Our Blog

What is the Difference Between Attorney & Lawyer?

Legal Law Firm Statue

It’s common for many people to use the terms “attorney” and “lawyer” interchangeably. However, that everyday usage isn’t necessarily correct, and it’s important to be aware of the differences. It’s particularly important if you’re thinking of pursuing a career as attorney or lawyer.

While they’re regarded as the same in common speech, there are some differences worth noting. Here are a few things that differentiate lawyers from attorneys, and vice versa:

Different Roles & Duties

By definition, a lawyer refers to someone that is educated and trained in law, often having gone to law school, but not necessarily licensed to practice law. An attorney is someone trained in law, is licensed to practice, and also practices it in court. It’s a small distinction that carries heavy differences in their roles. Many lawyers take on roles as consultants or advisors, and don’t necessarily practice law in court. Attorney

Both are formally trained and educated in the realm of law, and both are required to abide by a code of ethics, but attorneys are licensed and practicing. There are many different kinds of lawyers and attorneys, so it’s important to understand the assistance you might need before hiring one. For instance, if you’re looking for a Denver personal injury attorney, it’s important to find one that will represent you in court, should your case go that far. Finding the right area of expertise is important in any legal situation.

Passing the Bar Exam

Both lawyers and attorneys provide legal counsel, but one big distinction between the two is the license to practice. Attorneys have successfully passed the bar exam to practice law in their jurisdiction. This is what gives attorneys the legal qualification to represent clients in court. Lawyers may have a law degree, but haven’t necessarily passed the bar exam.

While most lawyers are in the process of becoming attorneys, they can work for a long time without passing the bar exam and are able to represent clients in court. Passing the bar exam allows you to formally practice law, be an advocate for interested clients, and argue cases in court on behalf of defendants.

Know the Difference

Understanding the difference between a lawyer and attorney can be an important distinction depending on your legal matter. Always ask for an individual’s credentials instead of relying on titles. An attorney is someone that can act as a practitioner in a court of law, and engages in attorney-client privilege – which is the legal privilege to keep communications confidential.

Lawyers generally work underneath a licensed attorney, generally as part of a learning experience. Because they cannot interpret federal and state laws to clients in regard to their legal matters, finding an attorney is crucial for most cases. Providing legal advice without having passed the bar exam is against the law, and may result in legal action.

In casual context, the terms are generally interchangeable. However, depending on the situation you’re in that calls for legal representation, it’s important to make sure that distinction is clear. For more information on the differences between attorneys and lawyers, contact the experts at Lampert & Walsh today.

Let Us Help You

Contact Us