law agent, noun phrase

Origin:
EnglishShow more Special sense of general English law-agent a legal practitioner.
historical, Law
One who, having no legal qualification but being an adult of good character, could, on payment of a fee, be enrolled in a magistrate’s court to defend those who could not afford the more expensive services of an attorney. Also attributive.
[1856 Act 20 in Stat. of Cape of G.H. (1906) 613It shall and may be lawful for every Court of Resident Magistrate to admit and enrol, as agents in the said Court, so many persons of full age, and of good fame and character, as shall be desirous to be so enrolled, and shall pay for such enrolment..the sum of twenty pounds.]
1903 D. Blackburn Burgher Quixote 12Although I am what is called a lawyer, I never was a proper one, being only a law-agent, which is not so high as an attorney, and requires only that one pay fees but pass no examination.
1925 W.H.S. Bell S. Afr. Legal Dict. 316Law agent,..In Cape Colony a law agent might not be admitted in a district where not less than two attorneys were in practice. None could be admitted in Natal since the passing of Act 22 of 1896. In the Transvaal only law agents who were entitled to practice in the courts of the landdrost of the late South African Republic, or who had passed the examinations which under the laws of the Republic would have entitled them to admission, could be admitted...In the Orange River Colony Ordinance 7 of 1902 authorised the enrolment of persons of full age and of good fame and character to practise in the courts of the resident magistrate in districts where less than three attorneys were carrying on practice as such independently of one another...Law agents are not authorised to practise in the superior courts.
1934 C.P. Swart Supplement to Pettman. 103Law Agent, Law agents..were enrolled in a court of a magistrate to practise therein on payment of a small fee, their status being lower than that of a solicitor.
1960 Hahlo & Kahn Union of S. Afr. 226To Natal’s credit she ended future admissions of law agents fairly early — in 1896. From 1876 as elsewhere in South Africa these quite unqualified individuals had been admitted by the magistrates’ courts.
1960 Hahlo & Kahn Union of S. Afr. 230Law agents, the lowest species, unable to appear before the High Court, were admitted by the President on the passing of an elementary legal examination, so easy that ‘anyone able to speak and write Dutch was sure to have a profession.’
1982 H.F. Mellet et al. Our Legal HeritageThe lowest category of practitioner was the so-called ‘law agent’ who could appear in the lower courts without any legal training whatsoever.
1990 Weekly Mail 21 Sept. 7Motivating the ‘law agent’ concept the ALS said it would enable a large number of practitioners to qualify who would charge less than attorneys and could represent those accused presently undefended.
One who, having no legal qualification but being an adult of good character, could, on payment of a fee, be enrolled in a magistrate’s court to defend those who could not afford the more expensive services of an attorney. Also attributive.

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18561990