Have you ever wondered what the difference between an attorney and a lawyer is?
When you have a legal issue and you are searching for a legal expert to help you, it can be challenging to determine whom you should contact. If you Google “personal injury lawyer,” you will see thousands of search results appear.
Some legal professionals may refer to themselves as lawyers, while others refer to themselves as attorneys. So, what’s the difference?
Generally speaking, the words “attorney” and “lawyer” are used interchangeably. However, at least based on some definitions, they aren’t quite the same thing.
The purpose of this article is to clear up the mystery of the attorney and lawyer difference and help you choose the right professional to represent you. If you have spent any time at all trying to determine whether you need an attorney vs. a lawyer to help with your problem, you’re in the right place.
What Is a Lawyer?
To put it simply, a lawyer is someone who has graduated from law school and has earned a Juris Doctor (JD). While in law school, they received a comprehensive legal education that allows them to analyze legal issues, provide legal advice, and much more.
They may specialize in a particular area of law, such as personal injury law, family law, criminal law, estate planning, intellectual property, or another area. Lawyers may utilize their law degrees in various fields, but they aren’t necessarily authorized to practice law and take cases to court.
What Is an Attorney?
An attorney is a lawyer who is authorized to represent clients in court. They graduated from law school, pass their state bar exam, and are admitted to practice law.
Attorneys have chosen to use their legal education and license to handle litigation, dispute resolution, and other courtroom-related matters.
This career path is perfect for someone who is outgoing, competitive, and interested in spending more of their time in court or preparing for court.
To represent their client in state court, an attorney must be admitted in the specific state that they practice in.
What’s the Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney?
If you’re still not sure what the difference between a lawyer and an attorney is, it comes down to the way that they use their law degree and whether they have passed the bar exam. While all attorneys are lawyers, not necessarily all lawyers are attorneys.
Let’s say you were involved in a car accident and are considering hiring legal representation. A lawyer could help you to some extent, at least as far as using their legal education to provide you with insight and advice. However, a lawyer could not take you on as a client and represent you in court as an attorney could.
As many people use “lawyer” and “attorney” interchangeably, it’s also important to keep in mind that many attorneys might refer to themselves as lawyers. The key consideration is whether they have passed the bar and are authorized to actually practice law in the applicable jurisdiction.