Hiding Behind the BAR: Why Attorneys are not lawyers, Disambiguated


As with the word “bar” each commonly used word describing the various court officers is derived directly from root words: From the word “solicit” is derived the name and occupation of a “solicitor” one who solicits or petitions an action in a court.

SOLICIT, v.t. [Latin solicito] 1. To ask with some degree of earnestness; to make petition to; to apply to for obtaining something. This word implies earnestness in seeking … 2. To ask for with some degree of earnestness; to seek by petition; as, to solicit an office; to solicit a favor.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.


From the word “attorn” is derived the name and occupation of an “attorney” one who transfers or assigns property, rights, title and allegiance to the owner of the land.

ATTORN / v. Me. [Origin French. atorner, aturner assign, appoint, f. a-torner turn v.] 1. v.t.Turn; change, transform; deck out. 2. v.t Turn over (goods, service, allegiance, etc.) to another; transfer, assign. 3. v.i. Transfer one’s tenancy, or (arch.) homage or allegiance, to another; formally acknowledge such transfer. attorn tenant (to) Law formally transfer one’s tenancy (to), make legal acknowledgement of tenancy (to a new landlord). 1999. ATTORN, v.i. [Latin ad and torno.]

Oxford English Dictionary

In the feudal law, to turn, or transfer homage and service from one lord to another. This is the act of feudatories, vassels or tenants, upon the alienation of the estate.

  • ATTORNMENT, n. The act of a feudatory, vassal or tenant, by which he consents, upon the alienation of an estate, to receive a new lord or superior, and transfers to him his homage and service. – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.
  • ATTORNMENT n. the transference of bailor status, tenancy, or (arch.) allegiance, service, etc., to another; formal acknowledgement of such transfer. – Oxford English Dictionary 1999.5).


From the word advocate comes the meaning of the occupation by the same name; one who pleads or defends by argument in a court.

ADVOCATE, v.t. [Latin advocatus, from advoco, to call for, to plead for; of ad and voco, to call.See Vocal.] To plead in favor of; to defend by argument, before a tribunal; to support or vindicate.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.


From the word “counsel” is derived the name and occupation of a “counselor” or “lawyer” one who is learned in the law to give advice in a court of law; COUNSEL, v.t. [Latin. to consult; to ask, to assail.] 1. To give advice or deliberate opinion to another for the government of his conduct; to advise. – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.

A counselor; one learned in the law.

A Law Dictionary by John Bouvier (Revised Sixth Edition, 1856).

Although modern usage tends to group all these descriptive occupational words as the same, the fact is that they have different and distinctive meanings when used within the context of court activities:

  • Solicitor – one who petitions (initiates) for another in a court
  • Counselor – one who advises another concerning a court matter
  • Lawyer – [see counselor] learned in the law to advise in a court
  • Barrister – one who is privileged to plead at the bar
  • Advocate – one who pleads within the bar for a defendant
  • Attorney – one who transfers or assigns, within the bar, another’s rights & propertyacting on behalf of the ruling crown (government)

An attorney is not a lawyer. The lawyer is a learned counselor who advises. The ruling government appoints an attorney as one who transfers a tenant’s rights, allegiance, and title to the land owner (government).

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