In the world that is constantly pondering over new rules and laws, questioning the grounds of ethics that guide the system of lawmaking and justice, it doesn’t bother to look up at the obvious.
‘Attorney’ and ‘Lawyers’ are two terms that most of the public understands as synonyms of each other. However, is that really the case? We are in an era where being ignorant is not an appreciable thing even if it is the smallest of the things.
Attorney vs Lawyer
The main difference between Attorney and Lawyer is that an ‘attorney’ is an individual who is a part of the legal profession. He/she is responsible for representing a client in court. While a ‘lawyer’ is used for a person who trained in the field of law, they give legal advice and aid. It is a much-used general term. Terms and their definitions are the minute details in the world of law.
For example, interchanging words like ‘shall’ and ‘must’ will change the entire implication of a statement.
Comparison Table Between Attorney and Lawyer (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of comparison||Attorney||Lawyer|
|Definition||One who is legally appointed to transact business on another’s behalf.||Someone whose job is to give advice to people about the law and speak for them in court.|
|Appointment||They are appointed by a legal body.||They are hired professionally.|
|Income||Since they are legally appointed, their pay is handled by the same body. Most of the time, their pay is fixed. They can be considered salary persons.||Being hired plays a crucial role in their income. It differs from case to case. They can demand or negotiate with their clients.|
|Rank||Attorneys can be promoted within the legal system.||Lawyers outside the legal system, cannot be promoted. In law firms, they can be considered senior lawyers or can get a management position.|
Who is an Attorney?
The titles and roles of attorneys are different depending upon the legal system or the justice system of different countries.
For example, in the USA and India, attorneys are divided into barristers, solicitors, and counsel.
The official word of attorney is ‘attorney-at-law.’ They can also practice as lawyers. To become an attorney, one must complete law school and clear a bar exam. In a lot of countries, attorneys need licenses to practice in different states.
With time, they can work as specialists. For example, one can practice as a patent law specialist or copyright specialist.
Since attorneys are a part of the governing system, they can be considered as seniors to the lawyers. As for the appointment or hiring an attorney, that is done in two ways.
One, they can be appointed by the legal system. Two, you can hire or request (in a court) a specific attorney. In India, such attorneys are called ‘advocates.’ Either way, they are bound to represent you.
Who is a Lawyer?
In a general sense, a person with legal knowledge and training and certificate can be considered a lawyer. They are also required to finish law school and clear bar exams. However, their title doesn’t depend upon their practice period. Whether they are acting as a lawyer or not, they are still called lawyers.
Any person with a law degree can work in fields other than practicing law itself. For example, you can become the legal adviser of a company, or you can work in HR departments where you can handle the management according to the labor laws.
One can handle the legal documentation of a company. This includes tasks like filing any document that needs to be cleared by a governing body. It is like being an editor of legal documents. This way, the company can be assured of not getting a rejection.
Main Differences Between Attorney and Lawyer
- The term ‘attorney’ has a French origin where it meant a person acting for another as an agent or deputy. On the other hand, ‘lawyer’ has Middle English roots.
- In some countries, a person with a law degree or lawyer does not necessarily need to take a bar exam. It is a matter of personal choice. On the other hand, it is compulsory for one to clear the bar exam if they wish to become an attorney.
- A lawyer may or may not need to present a client in the court. They can work behind the scenes. An attorney, on the other hand, needs to comply with this procedure.
- An attorney can be referred to as a lawyer. However, it does not go both ways. Hence, a lawyer cannot be referred to as an attorney.
- It can be said that an attorney has more authority than a lawyer.
- One of the differences could be taken in the actions of lawyers and attorneys. A lawyer act on the interpretation of the law majorly. While an attorney, in addition to the interpretation, also used its implications. It can be during an investigation or drafting of a plea.
- A fact can be taken up as one of the differences. In civilian cases, a person irrespective of holding a degree in law or not can represent themselves in the court. Hence, acting as a lawyer. Whereas, it is not the same for attorneys. As this practice is only limited to civil cases.
In countries like the USA, the line of difference between a lawyer and an attorney have become significantly blurred. Lawyers have more professional freedom. Their careers are more flexible.
Whereas, the careers of attorneys are more rigid. Their roles and titles change as they are promoted. However, these individuals are always a part of the legal body.
The associations that guide the society of lawyers and attorneys are different. That is, separate associations look over the two groups. However, both are controlled by higher legal authorities. They can work together or as partners or exchange information.