ATTORNEY. One who acts for another by virtue of an appointment by the
latter. Attorneys are of various kinds.
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2. Attorney in fact. A person to whom the authority of another, who is
called the constituent, is by him lawfully delegated. This term is employed
to designate persons who act under a special agency, or a special letter of
attorney, so that they are appointed in factum, for the deed, or special act
to be performed; but in a more extended sense it includes all other agents
employed in any business, or to do any act or acts in pais for another. Bac.
Ab. Attorney; Story, Ag. Sec. 25.
3. All persons who are capable of acting for themselves, and even those
who are disqualified from acting in their own capacity, if they have
sufficient understanding, as infants of a proper age and femes coverts, may
act as attorneys of others. Co. Litt. 52, a; 1 Esp. Cas. 142; 2 Esp. Cas.
511 2 Stark. Cas. N. P. 204.
4. The form of his appointment is by letter of attorney. (q.v.)
5. The object of his appointment is the transaction of some business of
the constituent by the attorney.
6. The attorney is bound to act with due diligence after having
accepted the employment, and in the end, to 'render an account to his
principal of the acts which be has performed for him. Vide Agency; Agent;
Authority; and Principal.
7. Attorney at law. An officer in a court of justice, who is employed
by a party in a cause to manage the same for him. Appearance by an attorney
has been allowed in England, from the time of the earliest records of the
courts of that country. They are mentioned in Glanville, Bracton, Fleta, and
Britton; and a case turning upon the party's right to appear by attorney, is
reported, B. 17 Edw. III., p. 8, case 23. In France such appearances were
first allowed by letters patent of Philip le Bel, A. D. 1290. 1 Fournel,
Hist. des Avocats, 42; 43, 92, 93 2 Loisel Coutumes, 14, 15. It results from
the nature of their functions, and of their duties, as well to the court as
to the client, that no one can, even by consent, be the attorney of both the
litigating parties, in the same controversy. Farresly, 47.
8. In some courts, as in the supreme court of the United States,
advocates are divided into counsellors at law, (q.v.) and attorneys. The
business of attorneys is to carry on the practical and formal parts of the
suit. 1 Kent, Com. 307. See as to their powers, 2 Supp. to Ves. Jr. 241,
254; 3 Chit. Bl. 23, 338; Bac. Ab. h.t.; 3 Penna. R. 74; 3 Wils. 374; 16
S. & R. 368; 14 S. & R. 307; 7 Cranch, 452; 1 Penna. R. 264. In general, the
agreement of an attorney at law, within the scope of his employment, binds
his client; 1 Salk. 86 as to amend the record, 1 Binn. 75; to refer a cause
1 Dall. Rep. 164; 6 Binn. 101; 7 Cranch, 436; 3 Taunt. 486; not to sue out a
writ of error; 1 H. Bl. 21, 23 2 Saund. 71, a, b; 1 Term Rep. 388 to strike
off a non pros; 1 Bin. 469-70 to waive a judgment by default; 1 Arcb. Pr.
26; and this is but just and reasonable. 2 Bin. 161. But the act must be
within the scope of their authority. They cannot, for example, without
special authority, purchase lands for the client at sheriff's sale. 2 S. &
R. 21 11 Johns. 464.
9. The name of attorney is given to those officers who practice in
courts of common law; solicitors, in courts. of equity and proctors, in
courts of admiralty, and in the English ecclesiastical courts.
10. The principal duties of an attorney are, 1. To be true to the court
and to his client; 2. To manage the business of his client with care, skill
and integrity. 4 Burr. 2061 1 B. & A. 202; 2 Wils. 325; 1 Bing. R. 347; 3.
To keep his client informed as to the state of his business; 4. To keep his
secrets confided to him as such. See Client Confidential Communication.
11. For a violation of his duties, an action will in general lie; 2
Greenl. Ev. Sec. 145, 146; and, in some cases, he may be punished by an
attachment. His rights are, to be justly compensated for his services. Vide
1 Keen's R. 668; Client; Counsellor at law.
12. Attorney-general of the United States, is an officer appointed by
the president. He should be learned in the law, and be sworn or affirmed to
a faithful execution of his office.
13. His duties are to prosecute and conduct all suits in the supreme
court, in which the United States shall be concerned; and give his advice
upon questions of law, when required by the president, or when requested by
the heads of any of the departments, touching matters that may Concern their
departments. Act of 24th Sept. 1789.
14. His salary is three thousand five hundred dollars per annum, and he
is allowed one clerk, whose compensation shall not exceed one thousand
dollars per annum. Act 20th Feb. 1819, 3 Story's Laws, 1720, and Act 20th
April, 1818, s. 6, 3 Story's Laws, 1693. By the act of May 9, 1830, 4
Sharsw. cont. of Story, L. U. S. 2208, Sec. 10, his salary is increased five
hundred dollars per annum.
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