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What is Counsel?

Updated on January 17, 2010

Counsel, in its general sense, means advice given regarding a proposed course of action. In legal practice, it also means an attorney who assists his client with legal aspects of judicial controversies: their management, preparation, and presentation before courts of law. An attorney who is retained during the conduct of a case, often to render specific advice on points of law, preparing the brief, or presenting arguments to the court, is said to be "of counsel." The word "counselor" is often used interchangeably with "counsel," while both terms refer to an advocate or barrister in English legal practice. In a few states of the United States "counselor" denotes a higher grade, or degree, which a lawyer can attain only after practicing as an attorney for a specified number of years and then passing a second examination.

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