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|An attorney at law (or attorney-at-law) in the United States is a practitioner in a court of law who is legally
qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. Alternative terms include
counselor (or counsellor-at-law) and lawyer. There are currently 760,000 people earning a living as lawyers in
the United States.
The United States legal system does not draw a distinction between lawyers who plead in court and those who
do not, unlike many other common law jurisdictions (such as Britain, which distinguishes between solicitors and
barrister, or, in Scotland, advocates), and civil law jurisdictions (such as Italy and France, which distinguish
between advocates and civil law notaries). An additional factor which differentiates the American legal system
from other countries is that there is no delegation of routine work to notaries public
Once admitted to practice by the highest court of a state (the state supreme court), a function sometimes
administered by the state's bar association, an American attorney may file legal pleadings and argue cases in any
state court, provide legal advice to clients and draft important legal instruments such as wills, trusts, deeds and
Arguing cases in the federal courts requires separate admission.
In some states, real estate closings may be performed only by attorneys, even though the attorney's role in a
closing may involve primarily notarization of documents and disbursement of settlement funds through an
Actions that may be performed by lawyers are referred to as the practice of law. Practicing law includes
interviewing a client to identify the legal question, analyzing the question, researching relevant law, devising
legal solutions to problems and executing such solutions through specific tasks such as drafting a contract or
filing a motion with a court.
Most academic legal training is directed to identifying legal issues, researching facts and law as well as arguing
both the facts and law in favor of either side in any case.
For several years, law schools have sent through far more students than new job openings have become
available. This leads to attorneys (once they pass the bar) seeking work in other occupations, either by choice or
by the lack of employment opportunities. This has led to a market in legal temps or contract attorneys, where
attorneys spend a certain period of time working on tasks such as discovery for a case.
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3708 NW 82nd Street
Miami, Florida 33147