solicitor – an attorney at law acting as head of the law department of a municipal corporation or other division of government; in England, similar to a paralegal

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1. Someone who seeks business or contributions from others; an advertiser or promoter.

2. Someone who conducts matters on another’s behalf; an agent or representative.

3. The chief law officer of a governmental body or a municipality.

4. In the United Kingdom, a lawyer who consults with clients and prepares legal documents but is not generally heard in High Court or (in Scotland) Court of Session unless specially licensed.  Cf. BARRISTER.

5. See special agent under INSURANCE AGENT.

6. A prosecutor (in some jurisdictions, such as South Carolina). [1]

1. An attorney at law acting as the head of the law department of a municipal corporation or other division of government.  In England, a person trained in the law who prepares briefs, drafts, pleadings and legal instruments, consults with and advises clients, but is not heard in court, at least not in the superior courts.

English attorneys-at-law have been called “solicitors” since the Judicature Act of 1873 took effect.  They are not members of the bar and are not heard in the superior courts; and the power of admitting them to practice, and striking them off the roll, has not been given to the inns of court. Re Ricker, 66 NH 207, 29 A 559.
This decision contains a most valuable account of the qualifications, functions, privileges, and duties of barristers, serjeants, solicitors and attorneys-at-law. [2]
1. The title that many cities, towns, and departments or agencies of government give to their chief law officer.  EXAMPLE: the Solicitor General of the United States.
2. In England, a person trained in the law who prepares briefs, drafts, pleadings and legal instruments, and advises clients, but is limited with respect to the courts in which she may appear. [3]

Various Types of Solicitors:

duty solicitor – A solicitor in private practice who can be called to a police station or to a magistrate’s court to represent pro bono a person suspected of or charged with a crime when the person cannot afford to hire a solicitor. — aka (in Canada) duty counsel. Cf. PUBLIC DEFENDER.

solicitor general (usu. cap.) (17c) The second-highest~ ranking legal officer in a government (after the attorney general); esp., the chief courtroom lawyer for the executive branch.  *  On the use of General as a title in reference to the solicitor general, see ATTORNEY GENERAL. — Abbr. SG. Pl. solicitors general. [1]

1. An officer learned in the law in the Department of Justice, assisting the Attorney General in the performance of the duties of the latter, appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. 5 USC §293.  In England, a barrister of high rank next in precedence after the attorney general, with whom he is associated in the performance of his duties, and permitted to sit within the bar of the respective courts with the king’s counsel. See 3 Bl Comm 28 and note. [2]

     Excerpt from Ronald D. Rotunda & John E. Nowak’s Treatises on Constitutional Law § 2.2, at 86-88 (2d ed. 1999):

     “By [federal] law, only the Solicitor General or his designee can conduct and argue before the Supreme Court cases ‘in which the United States is interested.’  Thus, if a trial court appoints a special, independent prosecutor in order to prosecute a criminal contempt of court, that court-appointed special prosecutor cannot represent the United States in seeking Supreme Court review of any lower court decision unless the Solicitor General authorizes the filing of such a petition. . . . Although the Solicitor General serves at the pleasure of the President, by tradition the Solicitor General also acts with independence.  Thus, if the Solicitor General does not believe in the legal validity of the arguments that the government wants presented, he will refuse to sign the brief. In close cases the Solicitor General will sign the brief but tag on a disclaimer that has become known as ‘tying a tin can.’ The disclaimer would state, for example, ‘The foregoing is presented as the position of the Internal Revenue Service.’  The justices would then know that the Solicitor General, although not withholding a legal argument, was not personally sponsoring or adopting the particular legal position. [4]

Solicitor General of the United States:

1. The Solicitor General is appointed by the president and has the authority to represent the United States in all actions in all state courts and federal courts, at both the trial court and appellate court level, including the Supreme Court.  The Solicitor General works in close coordination with the Attorney General of the United States , who is the head of the Department of Justice. [3]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6.

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Ronald D. Rotunda & John E. Nowak’s Treatises on Constitutional Law § 2.2, at 86-88 (2d ed. 1999)


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