Joshua Julien Brouard
03 July 2023 • 4 min read
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For most of us, there isn't a difference between a lawyer and an attorney. After all, we all use these words interchangeably. So, what is the difference between lawyers and attorneys anyways? In this article, I'll explore precisely this (and briefly go over some international terms).
Let's get started on the issue of attorney vs. lawyer!
Lawyers like attorneys have gone to law school and obtained a JD degree. This requires extensive studies and typically includes a standard four-year undergraduate degree and three years of law school.
However, unlike attorneys, they may or may not have passed the bar exam. This means that they may not yet be considered a licensed professional. Passing the bar exam is necessary to be able to:
Lawyers who have passed the bar exam may work with clients or corporations but don't represent clients in court.
Lawyers perform different roles in society. Here are some common careers that people pursue after they've completed law school:
An attorney is a legal professional with a law degree. Attorneys have passed the bar exam and represent clients in court. Attorney is an abbreviated form of the official title "attorney at law."
The role of an attorney is very similar to that of a lawyer, except for the type of work generally done.
An attorney is a licensed professional that will act as representatives for individuals, groups, and organizations. They may act as defense or offense in legal proceedings in front of the judiciary. Attorneys may have the following roles:
As you may already know, lawyer and attorney are not the only terms used to describe legal professionals. In the UK, mainly, words such as solicitor and barrister are employed to describe lawyers. A solicitor is a licensed professional who practices law with a primary client focus and client representation in the lower courts of the judiciary.
Conversely, barristers refer to licensed professionals primarily representing clients in courts and often complex cases.
You may have also heard of the word advocate. This is used interchangeably with lawyer and attorney and doesn't indicate any unique role. Nearly the same could be said of the term legal counsel. However, this is more specifically focused on those who work in-house for a company.
I hope I've helped you settle this debate once and for all. While attorneys and lawyers perform very similar roles and both practice law, the critical difference is that a lawyer doesn't represent or cannot represent clients in court. In contrast, a vital aspect of an attorney's job is client representations in the judiciary.
An attorney isn't more "powerful" than a lawyer. Like lawyers they practice law. The difference is that they have greater expertise in representing clients in court.
It's not uncommon to see lawyers as inherently "powerful" due to their portrayal in books and movies. To answer the question, however, the most powerful lawyers will typically be the partners and the chief advocate of a law firm.
You can be honest with your lawyer. Remember that due to attorney-client privilege, anything you say to your attorney will stay between the two of you. Your lawyer may also be able to approach the case from different angles if you provide all the information instead of withholding it.
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Joshua Julien Brouard
Joshua J. Brouard brings a rich and varied background to his writing endeavors. With a bachelor of commerce degree and a major in law, he possesses an affinity for tackling business-related challenges. His first writing position at a startup proved instrumental in cultivating his robust business acumen, given his integral role in steering the company's expansion. Complementing this is his extensive track record of producing content across diverse domains for various digital marketing agencies.
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