You may not realize that lawyer and attorney are not just interchangeable words that mean the same thing. But, there are some slight differences. Both attorneys and lawyers are qualified to practice law, but there are some differences.
What are Lawyers?
After completing a law degree and passing the state bar exam in their area, an individual is considered a lawyer. Lawyers have received an education and have been trained in the law to offer legal advice and courtroom representation to their clients. Lawyers specialize in various areas of the legal profession, such as:
- Corporate law
- Criminal law
- Family law
- Workers Compensation
- Personal injury law
- Environmental law
- Civil rights law
- Patent law
- Employment law
- Housing law
- Medical malpractice law
This is in no way an exhaustive list. The above list only demonstrates a handful of areas that a lawyer may specialize in.
What are Attorneys?
An attorney has also finished law school and passed the bar exam. They are licensed to practice law in their area. Attorneys are allowed to act on behalf of their clients when legal matters are at hand. An attorney is a lawyer who may legally act as a representative or an agent of another individual or entity.
The Main Difference Between Attorneys and Lawyers
The difference between lawyers and attorneys is similar to the difference between carpenters and contractors. The carpenter understands how to build and repair structures. Contractors also possess this knowledge but have received special training and licensing so that they can oversee projects. So, while similar, there are differences.
Lawyers and attorneys are both legal professionals. They have undergone similar steps, received legal education, and passed their state’s bar exam. But, the attorney has specialized in a way that allows them an additional level of authority to act in their client’s stead in legal matters.
Different Roles in the Legal System
When trying to understand the differences between lawyers and attorneys, pay attention to what each one does in the legal system. Lawyers are typically responsible for the following:
- Advising clients on legal matters
- Drafting of legal documents
- Representing clients before the court
Attorneys share these traits, but they have other responsibilities as well. Some of their additional privileges are listed below.
- Advocating for their clients
- Representing them when they face legal proceedings
- Negotiating settlements
- Arguing in court
Which One Do I Hire When I Am in Need of Legal Counsel?
This will depend on your unique situation and the details of your legal matter. For advice or to have a document drafted, a lawyer will probably be all you need. But, if you need representation in court or someone who will manage negotiations on your behalf, it is in your best interest to have an attorney by your side.
While the words “lawyer” and “attorney” are very often considered the same, there are slight but important differences between their roles in the legal system. A lawyer has a law degree and is licensed to practice law. Attorney has a specialization that allows them to act with legal authority when advocating on behalf of their clients in legal affairs.
When seeking representation, contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices. We will ensure you are put in touch with the right legal professional to assist you with your legal matter.