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We usually refer to a person who completed law school and practices law as either an attorney or lawyer, as per our convenience. But is it right to do so?

I mean, it must be, right? We have been using these terms interchangeably for a long time now. So, both terms must be the same, right?

Well, no.

Lawyers are a bit different from attorneys. There is a slight technical difference that makes them both different from each other. In short, all attorneys are lawyers, but all lawyers are not attorneys.

Confused? Good.

Let’s get into more detail on how attorneys are different from lawyers.

What is an Attorney?

An attorney is a person who graduated from law school and passed the state board exam that allows them to practice law. An attorney can represent their clients in court. An attorney will be perfect in the following situations:

     Cases that go to court. It can be criminal or civil cases.

     You need representation in court to prove the negligence of the defendant in a personal injury case.

     You need to contest a criminal case as an immigrant.

     You want to negotiate with the insurance company and obtain fair compensation.

     You need to fight against a doctor who was involved in a medical malpractice case.

These are just some instances in which you can turn to an attorney. All in all, you can hire an attorney whenever you need representation in the court.

What is a Lawyer?

Lawyers are individuals who have graduated from law school but do not represent clients in court. A lawyer usually advises on the legal action a person needs to take. In addition, a lawyer will also help people with legal documentation and paperwork. Following are some instances a lawyer can help with:

     When you need assistance in drawing up a will, a lawyer can help with the documentation.

     You need legal advice regarding tax filing.

     When you are an immigrant and want to apply for a green card or citizenship.

     You need advice on filing a legal document.

When you don’t want court representation but need legal advice, you can speak to a lawyer instead of an attorney.

Attorney vs Lawyer

As you have read till here, let me ask you now, what is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney?

Still confused? I hope not.

In simple words, an attorney represents clients in court, a lawyer doesn’t.

That’s it. That’s the difference between a lawyer and an attorney.

Both can be helpful in different instances. You need to fight for the right person and speak with them according to your needs.

Final Thoughts

An attorney is different from a lawyer. Till now, you might not have known this information, so you could have used the terms interchangeably. But now you know the difference between a lawyer and an attorney. So use the appropriate term at the appropriate time.

If you don’t know whether you need a lawyer or an attorney for your situation, you better schedule a meeting with both of them and clear it with them. If you learned this information today, share it as TIL on your social media so that your friends can learn too.


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