What is an attorney?

Often confused with a solicitor or barrister, an attorney doesn’t actually exist under UK law as a person that can practice law. Any attorney search that you do online will invariably return details of attorneys in the USA. An attorney search in the US would give the same results as searching for a solicitor in the UK as they are broadly the same. An attorney search will also often show instances of the word ‘lawyer’. Generally speaking, attorney is the American name for a solicitor.

An attorney search will also illustrate the differences between the UK and US legal systems. In the US system there are no differences between legal representatives that can and cannot speak in court. In the UK there is a distinction between solicitors that have most of the contact with a client but don’t speak in court, and a barrister (advocates in Scotland) that can speak in court.

If you do an attorney search you will see that the UK does have an office called the Attorney General. The holder of this post is the legal advisor to the government. Most of the major governmental departments are the responsibility of the Attorney General’s office along with the Solicitor General.

Your attorney search may also include what is called ‘power of attorney’. The power of attorney is where one person gives another person the legal right to act on their behalf. If you are given power of attorney you can deal with a person’s bank accounts for instance.

Some forms of power of attorney also allow the person appointed other legal powers as well. Power of attorney can be one of three types: Ordinary, Lasting and Enduring. Your solicitor can help you decide which would be the right type for your particular circumstances.

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