The Department of Justice has been developed from the English office of Attorney-General, with important features added in the course of American experience. As early as the reign of Edward I, almost contemporaneous with the appearance of a special legal profession in England, we find Crown Attorneys (Attornati Regis) employed for guarding the royal privileges in the courts. By the time of Edward IV the official title of Attorney-General appears for the first time. A little later, as the distinction between barristers and solicitors became established, the Crown lawyers are distinguished as the King's Attorney and the King's Solicitor. These law officers acted as the legal advisers of the King and his ministers, and also conducted public prosecutions in important criminal cases. But there was not developed, and has not yet developed in England any system of local public prosecutors. Nor has the English Attorney-General become one of the leading political officials with a seat in the cabinet, since political and administrative functions, which have become attached to- the office in this country, are there performed by the Lord Chancellor and other officials.
John A. Fairlie,
United States Department of Justice,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol3/iss5/2