The difference between an attorney-in-fact and an attorney-at-law is that an attorney-in-fact can do things for the principal, as you point out, but cannot practice law, unless the attorney-in-fact is also an attorney-at-law. It is still necessary to earn a doctorate, sit the Bar exam, and get a license from the State in order to practice law.
An attorney-in-fact could hire an attorney-at-law to go to court on behalf of the principal, but it is not possible for a principal to grant another person who is not a lawyer a law license. The state gets all upset when people try to do that. Actually, it is a crime.
Lots of attorneys will do unbundled work - in other words, you can hire an attorney for a brief project and not have to spend thousands of dollars paying them $20.00 to pick up the phone for the rest of this lawsuit.
Using Avvo does not form an attorney client relationship.
Its really unclear in WA state whether you can as an attorney-in-fact, but you do have one definite alternative.
Since this is your wife. Under RCW 4.08.040 you can actually join the cause of action and act for your wife, not as an attorney-in-fact, but as a married couple for whom you are the spokesperson. She may still have to sign her name on any settlement agreements and appear in court, but as a joint party, you can still take the lead.
Back to whether an attorney-in-fact can act as pro-se for a principal; whether you could act as an attorney-in-fact is unclear in WA law. Other states do explicitly allow attorneys-in-fact to act on behalf of principals if a copy of the Power of Attorney is on record and the principal signs an affidavit agreeing to allow the Power of Attorney to stand for court proceedings.
However, Washington law (as far as I can tell) has not included anything in the RCWs or case law allowing, or restricting attorneys in fact to appear for the principal. So... its a gamble. You may end up being the guinea pig in Washington state, which is a risk. And if the award isn't big enough, probably not worth it. But since you can join the action, it may not matter.
Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC