Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a lawyer and an attorney?

When it comes to the legal profession, the terms “attorney” and “lawyer” are often used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand.

In this short article we’ll review the differences between the two terms so you have a better understanding of each and how they work within the legal system.


What is an attorney?

An attorney is someone who has been admitted to practice law in a particular jurisdiction, such as a state or federal court. They have typically completed a law degree and passed the bar exam in that jurisdiction. Attorneys are authorized to represent clients in court and to give legal advice on a variety of matters, including contracts, real estate, and estate planning.

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What is a lawyer?

A lawyer is a more general term that refers to anyone who has completed a law degree, regardless of whether or not they have been admitted to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. This means that a lawyer may or may not be an attorney, depending on whether or not they have passed the bar exam and been licensed to practice law.

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What's the difference between the two?

One way to think about the difference between an attorney and a lawyer is to compare it to the difference between a medical student and a doctor. Just as a medical student has completed the necessary education to become a doctor, but has not yet been licensed to practice medicine, a lawyer may have completed a law degree but not yet passed the bar exam and been licensed to practice law.

Another way to understand the difference is to consider the role of each in the legal system. Attorneys are the ones who actually represent clients in court and provide legal advice, while lawyers may work in a variety of other legal settings, such as government agencies, law firms, or corporations.

In conclusion, while the terms “attorney” and “lawyer” are often used interchangeably, there are important differences between the two. Attorneys are licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction and can represent clients in court, while lawyers may or may not be licensed to practice law. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right legal professional for your needs if you ever find yourself needing to speak to a lawyer or attorney.

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