What is the Difference between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

What is the Difference between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

18-03-2020

In Britain, there are Barristers (not to be mistaken with Bareesta and all things coffee) and in other countries counsellors-at-law. In the United States, there are Lawyers and Attorneys.  Are you one of those who interchangeably use the terms Lawyers and Attorneys?

Many people think the words Lawyer and Attorney mean the same.  Although there is little difference between them, they are still two different things.

In a pro se (Latin term for “in one's own behalf.”) litigation, one can represent one’s self in court in a civil case. This has been done since 2013. However, most people still opt to hire a professional to ensure greater chances of winning their case.

If you are involved in a civil case, you may be wondering if you should hire a Lawyer or an Attorney to handle your case. In this regard, you need to know the difference between a Lawyer and an Attorney. Browse the Internet if you need to hire a Lawyer or Attorney.

They are easy to find as their ‘must have’ websites are so professional as to have high visibility.

Lawyers and Attorneys by Definition

By definition, a Lawyer is a Middle English word that refers to a person trained in the field of law. They provide aid and advice on legal matters.

An Attorney, by definition, is a French word "atorner" referring to an agent or principal a client chooses to act on his behalf. They are legal professionals that are licensed and qualified to plead, defend, and argue on behalf of their client in court.

Who are Lawyers?

In the United States, a Lawyer is one who has graduated from a law school even if they are not licensed to practice law.

A Lawyer understands the law and the judicial system. They can specialize in various areas of laws so they can provide legal advice.

Even if they have graduated from law school, a Lawyer is not allowed to do certain legal functions such as representing a client in court. They need to successfully pass the state board exam where they intend to practice law.

Not all Lawyers opt to take the bar exam because taking the bar exam is a matter of personal discretion. They are however obliged to strictly follow the code of ethics once they become licensed Lawyers.

Lawyers do not necessarily need to have clients or practice the law in court.  Even if they are not officers of the court, they are still Lawyers. Even if they opt to be a company consultant or work in government, they are still Lawyers. 

Although passing the bar exam is not a requirement to become a Lawyer, most people still prefer to get legal advice from bar passers.

You may hire a Lawyer for any of these circumstances:

• You need a Corporate Lawyer to help you properly set up and maintain your corporation.

• You need an Estate Lawyer to draw up a trust or will for your loved ones.

• You need an Immigration Lawyer to handle immigration issues such as green cards and visas.

• You need a Tax Lawyer when you need important advice on tax issues.

• You need an Employment Lawyer to understand employer or employee work contracts.

• You need a Family Lawyer to draft a prenuptial agreement.

• You need a General Practitioner Lawyer if you need legal advice or to learn the proper terms and procedures in a legal document

• You need an Intellectual Property Lawyer if you want your intellectual property or invention protected with a trademark, patent, or copyright.

A Lawyer may help strengthen the case handled by an Attorney. They however, may not necessarily have to argue in court. If you need to hire a Lawyer, browse the Internet where you will find a whole selection of Lawyers and details of their specialties and track record which will help in making the right choice.

Who Are Attorneys?

In the United States, Attorneys are also Lawyers. They are graduates of a law school and can also opt to practice law. An Attorney must have passed the state bar exam of the jurisdiction he wishes to practice law.

Other than doing the basic functions of a Lawyer, Attorneys can also act as legal representatives of their clients. An Attorney interprets and applies the law to provide legal remedies for their clients. Attorneys can act as Lawyers but not all Lawyers can function as Attorneys.

If you need to hire an Attorney, the Internet is a power source.

Similar to Lawyers, Attorneys or Attorneys-at-law are law school graduates. They have passed the bar exams and are licensed to practice law. They also comply with the code of ethics.

Not all Lawyers are Attorneys-at-law. Lawyers are called Attorneys-at-law if they have and represent their clients. Most legal professionals though prefer to be called an “Attorney” than a “Lawyer” because of the dignified and professional connotation.

A Power of Attorney gives legal professionals the legal, medical, and financial right to decide on behalf of their client. An Attorney can also be an "Attorney-in-Fact' where he is authorized to conduct transactions on behalf of his client. An Attorney-in-fact can also be a trusted individual or family member and not necessarily an Attorney.

You may hire an Attorney for any of these circumstances:

• You need a Litigation Attorney if you are involved in a civil or criminal case and need to be tried in court.

• You need an Estate Attorney to defend or contest a trust or will during a court proceeding or litigation.

• You need a Tax Attorney to represent you against the IRS.

• You need a Family Attorney if you need to be in child custody litigation or divorce proceedings.

• You need an Immigration Attorney if you want to defend or contest an immigration issue.

•  You need a Medical Malpractice Attorney if you are sued for medical malpractice.

• You need a Personal Injury Lawyer if you have to negotiate for compensation due to damages.

•   You need an Intellectual Property Lawyer if you want to defend or contest a patent, trademark, or copyright lawsuit.

Check the Internet if you need to hire an Attorney because, as in the case of Lawyers, Attorneys’ websites are comprehensive and so visible on the internet that the choice is so much easier to make.

Summary

The difference between a Lawyer and an Attorney are always used on an interchangeable basis. For over 160 years, “Lawyer” has been a more popular term when referring to legal professionals. The differences between both terms are rarely observed even by legal professionals who work with the law full-time and even with Law Firms.

Lawyers and Attorneys have graduated from law school and are qualified to give legal advice. Not all Lawyers, however, are qualified to dispense the functions of an Attorney.

Is it a Lawyer or Attorney? Both terms refer to an individual who practices law. The main distinctions in terms of function are:

  • Technically, a Lawyer is a type of Attorney.

  • An Attorney is an agent who does business for a client.

A Lawyer may not have regular clients and may not appear in court but you can consult him for legal advice. Again, we recommend that you check on the Internet for reputable Lawyers and Attorneys. They are extremely visible.

Many legal professionals prefer the term “Attorney” to “Lawyer.” In everyday speech, though, these terms are often used interchangeably.

In summary, in the United States, an Attorney or Attorney-at-law strictly refers to a legal professional who can defend and prosecute cases in court. In short, a legal professional can only be referred to as an Attorney if he has passed the bar exam, has the right to practice in a jurisdiction, thus appears in court to represent his client.

An Attorney is a Lawyer however, a Lawyer is automatically an Attorney – but with differences. Search for them on the Internet.

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What To Look For When Hiring A Lawyer?

What Does A Transactional Lawyer Do?

 

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