We recently discussed the peculiar BrEism "fee earner", which seems to be restricted to the BrE legal profession and things associated therewith. Much evidence suggests that it simply is a term meaning "legal or paralegal professional or the like who bills clients fees for services rendered in the ordinary course of business". Under this definition, which seems to be used by UK courts in their efforts to enforce and encourage price-fixing and other anticompetitive practices within the BrE legal profession(s), a "fee earner" would be anyone from a partner in a firm of solicitors to a nonlawyer professional functioning similarly to an AmE paralegal.
Mike Lyle suggested a different, narrower definition, in which "fee earner" was in opposition, as it were, to "partner" (as of a firm of solicitors); a "fee earner" would be a qualified lawyer but one who was not entitled to share in the profits of the firm.
I now see some evidence of a third definition, possibly related to the LylE usage. See, for example, the website of a firm of solicitors in Wet Yorks:
http://www.chadwicklawrence.co.uk/kpmoreinfo.htm
It lists the various professionals at the firm, including "partners", "solicitors", "legal executives", and "fee earners". I note also that there's only one "legal executive" and she's listed pretty high up.
Clearly the various "fee earners" are at the low end of the totem pole because they're listed last and have only minimal contact information. This means we still don't quite know what a "legal executive" is, but that's okay. I don't understand whether "legal executives" are persons who are also "fee earners" and perform professional acts, or who simply manage the business of a law office (which is sort of what the title sounds like to the American ear).

If the former, then it would seem that a "legal executive" is more like a licensed version of a paralegal, and the various "fee earners" are then subordinate and unlicensed paralegals who nonetheless bill for their services and are thus different from, say, secretarial staff or the like. Perhaps they're labeled as "fee earners" because there's simply no other term available in BrE to describe them.
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We recently discussed the peculiar BrEism "fee earner", which seems to be restricted to the BrE legal profession and things ... the like. Perhaps they're labeled as "fee earners" because there's simply no other term available in BrE to describe them.

Does this help?
http://www.ilex.org.uk/about legal exec/default.asp

"Legal Executives are qualified lawyers specialising in a particular area of law."
" Legal Executives are fee earners - in private practice their work is charged directly to clients - making a direct contribution to the income of a law firm. This is an important difference between Legal Executives and other types of legal support staff who tend to handle work of a more routine nature."
Does this help? http://www.ilex.org.uk/about legal exec/default.asp "Legal Executives are qualified lawyers specialising in a particular area of law." " Legal ... between Legal Executives and other types of legal support staff who tend to handle work of a more routine nature."

No, this just makes things even more confusing. I thought that the whole idea of "legal executives" was dreamed up to recognize the professional status of people who assisted solicitors but who were not "lawyers". If a "legal executive" is a "lawyer" in BrE, I then have to ask: how is "lawyer" defined in BrE? I was always under the impression that (okay, outside of Scotland) the British legal profession was split into two parts, solicitors and barristers. ILEX would have us believe that there are three legal professions?
In AmE, "lawyer" is, I'd argue, a bit broader than "attorney" in that "attorney" seems to be restricted to legal practitioners, while "lawyer" is occasionally used to describe people who, strictly speaking, don't practice law but who have a law degree and are probably licensed to practice law somewhere.
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Does this help? http://www.ilex.org.uk/about legal exec/default.asp "Legal Executives are qualified ... who tend to handle work of a more routine nature."

No, this just makes things even more confusing. I thought that the whole idea of "legal executives" was dreamed up to recognize the professional status of people who assisted solicitors but who were not "lawyers".

I thought those were "paralegals". They have those in England too.

If a
"legal executive" is a "lawyer" in BrE, I then have to ask: how is "lawyer" defined in BrE?

I don't know that "lawyer" is defined very closely at all in England.

I was always under the impression that (okay,
outside of Scotland) the British legal profession was split into two parts, solicitors and barristers. ILEX would have us believe that there are three legal professions?

Well, why not? If a need for a third division of the profession has been found useful, why wouldn't a third branch of the profession develop?
In AmE, "lawyer" is, I'd argue, a bit broader than "attorney" in that "attorney" seems to be restricted to legal ... who, strictly speaking, don't practice law but who have a law degree and are probably licensed to practice law somewhere.

I think "lawyer" is just the general term that Americans use for, well, lawyers.
I have acquaintances who describe themselves as "attorneys", and who have passed the bar exams in various states, but who do not in fact, practise.
Fran
Does this help? http://www.ilex.org.uk/about legal exec/default.asp "Legal Executives are qualified ... who tend to handle work of a more routine nature."

No, this just makes things even more confusing. I thought that the whole idea of "legal executives" was dreamed up to recognize the professional status of people who assisted solicitors but who were not "lawyers".

Correct.
If a "legal executive" is a "lawyer" in BrE, I then have to ask: how is "lawyer" defined in BrE?

I think that there probably isn't a legal definition, which is why the "legal executives" reckon they can get away with using it.
I was always under the impression that (okay, outside of Scotland) the British legal profession was split into two parts, solicitors and barristers.

Me too.
ILEX would have us believe that there are three legal professions?

Bloody jumped-up solicitors' clerks, that's all they are.

Don Aitken
Mail to the From: address is not read.
To email me, substitute "clara.co.uk" for "freeuk.com"
No, this just makes things even more confusing. I thought ... of people who assisted solicitors but who were not "lawyers".

Correct.

Delving deeper into the ILEX website we find that a Legal Executive will have passed exams so as to be qualified to the same level as a solicitor in just one of the following areas:
Civil Litigation
Criminal Litigation
Family Practice
Company & Partnership
Conveyancing
Probate Practice
A solicitor will be qualified in all those areas.

Peter Duncanson
UK (posting from a.u.e)
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In AmE, "lawyer" is, I'd argue, a bit broader than "attorney" in that "attorney" seems to be restricted to legal ... who, strictly speaking, don't practice law but who have a law degree and are probably licensed to practice law somewhere.

I've been told that in California it's illegal to call yourself an attorney if you haven't passed the bar examination. I think "lawyer" can be used more loosely.

This came up in a trial for which I was serving as a juror. A witness said that he was an attorney. The judge asked him if he had passed the bar exam, to which the witness replied no. The judge chewed him out, telling him that he could get in serious trouble calling himself an attorney if he hadn't passed the bar exam.
By the way, it sounds to me like a British "Legal Executive" could be about the same thing as an American paralegal. Right? Wrong?

Bob Cunningham, Southern California, USofA
Down with Miss Thistlebottom:
Let's hear it for "like" as a conjunction!
By the way, it sounds to me like a British "Legal Executive" could be about the same thing as an American paralegal. Right? Wrong?

Unclear; that's one of the questions here. There's no licensing scheme or self-regulation of paralegals in the US (there might be a few states where there is), which would be at least one difference wrt "legal executives". And that still leaves the question of what these "fee earners" are.
In AmE, "lawyer" is, I'd argue, a bit broader than ... law degree and are probably licensed to practice law somewhere.

I think "lawyer" is just the general term that Americans use for, well, lawyers. I have acquaintances who describe themselves as "attorneys", and who have passed the bar exams in various states, but who do not in fact, practise.

That's backwards. They are lawyers who are not in practice. If they are part of legal proceedings, representing someone, then they are attorneys for that someone.
I must admit that the two terms are generally being used indiscriminately by those qualified to call themselves the one or the other.

Also, an attorney does not necessarily have to be a lawyer; an attorney-at-law does.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
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