Difference between Lawyer and Attorney


There are a lot in common between the term lawyer and attorney, but not all lawyers are attorneys.

Most of the people use the terms “attorney” and “lawyer” interchangeably,they actually mean different things. Borth carries different rights and responsibilities.

They both describe individuals who have received legal training and have received legal training and have earned a Juris Doctor (JD) drgree.

Every attorney is a lawyer , but not all lawyers are  attorneys.

Attorneys must pass the bar exam, a two or three days, state-specific test that measures a lawyer’s knowledge and competence to practice law.

Definition of Lawyer

The term lawyer comes from Middle English and it refers to someone who has been educated and trained in the field of law.

A lawyer is a person who holds qualifications related to the area of law. For example, a Diploma in law, a certificate course in law, a Bachelor of Laws.

A lawyer has knowledge of several legal issues and he/she can provide advice and legal aid but he/she can not necessarily act on behalf of someone else.

However, In USA a lawyer also conducts suits in court proceedings and represents clients in various legal instances.

A lawyer has completed a course of legal training at a law school, which usually involves three years of full time study.

If a law school graduate does not take the bar examination or  does not pass, this doesn’t mean they can never use the knowledge they gained in a law school in an employment context.

But a lawyer without membership in a state bar can’t represent clients in court or other legal proceedings. If a lawyer does this, he can be charged with the unlawful practice of law despite having a law degree.

Definition of Attorney

The word attorney comes from French meaning one appointed or constituted and the original meaning of the word is a person acting for another as an agent or deputy.

Attorneys are also recognised as lawyers. But the vary key element which may distinguish an attorney from other lawyers is the ability to act on behalf of another person.

An attorney has completed the educational requirements to take a state bar examination and has passed the examination and taken an oath as a member of a state bar.

Attorneys have a license and the right to practice law.They may be members of more than one state bar if they practice near a border between two states. Attorney specialities vary and may require membership in a separate bar.

An attorney must also comply with the state’s rules of professional conduct, because he/she is a state bar member.These ethics rules provide guidelines for how an attorney must conduct their practice.

such as attorney advertising, keeping client and personal funds separate, attorney-client privilege and maintaining reasonable communication with the client regarding the progress of a case.

Violation of these rules can lead to charges against the attorney by a state ethics board which may take various disciplinary actions against the attorney, including reprimand, suspension or disbarment . 

Most lawyers and attorneys do not even distinguish between the two terms themselves and use them interchangeably, so it is unlikely that you will offend a legal professional’s sensibilities if you mix them up.


My aim here was to inform you the difference between a lawyer and an attorney.I hope this will be useful for you.

In the USA the worlds lawyer and attorney are commonly used.

In the UK you may find peoples using the words like Barristers and Solicitors. In other countries you may find peoples using the words like lawyer and advocate.

The term lawyer and attorney may mean the same thing In the USA.

But n the UK barrister represent clients in open court and may appear at the bar while solicitors spend most of their time doing other law firm’s work.

An advocate  can act on behalf of the other person.

Attorney/Barrister/advocate is similar while solicitor/lawyer are similar too.

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