ATTORNEY (attornatus in Latin), a person appointed to do something for and in the stead and name of another. A public at torney or attorney at law is a person quail fled to appear for another before a court of law to prosecute or defend any action on behalf of his client. The term was formerly applied especially to those practising before the su preme courts of common law at Westminster, and corresponded to the term solicitor used in regard to the courts of chancery. As an attorney was almost invariably a solicitor, the two terms came to be generally regarded as synonymous. By the Judicature Act of 1873 all persons prac tising before the supreme courts at Westmin ster are now called solicitors. Attorneys or solicitors do not plead or argue in court on be half of their clients, this being the part of the barristers or counsel: their special functions may be defined to be, to institute actions on be half of their clients and take necessary steps for defending them, to furnish counsel with necessary materials to enable them to get up their pleadings, to practise conveyancing, to prepare legal deeds and instruments of all kinds, and generally to advise with and act for their clients in all matters connected with law.
An attorney, whether private or public, may have general powers to act for another; or his power may be special and limited to a particu lar act or acts. In Scotland there is no class of practitioners of the law who take the name of attorneys. A special attorney is appointed by a deed called a power or letter of attor ney, and the deed of which he is appointed specifies the acts he is authorized to perform. It is a commission, to the extent of which only he can bind his principal. As far as the acts of the attorney, in the name of the principal, are authorized by his power, his acts are those of his principal. But if he goes beyond his au thority, his acts will bind himself only' and he must indemnify any one to whom, without au thority, he represents himself as an attorney of another, and who contracts with him, or other wise puts confidence in him, as being such at torney. Consult Weeks, 'Treatises on Attor neys and Counselors at Law) (San Francisco 1892). See AGENT.