In the United States, people often use the terms “lawyer” and “attorney” interchangeably, without giving much thought to what they actually mean. In fact, lawyers and attorneys are often referenced in jokes. If you’re thinking of earning a Juris Doctor degree, you should know the difference between a lawyer and an attorney. You can use this knowledge to help guide your career path.
An attorney is a person who has studied law and passed the bar exam for their state in order to practice law. An attorney is legally appointed to represent someone in court and may prosecute or defend actions. The word “attorney” has French origins, and the word attorney literally means “to act for someone.”
The legal profession requires several credentials to practice law. In the USA, the requirements to practice law vary by state. However, they always include passing the state bar exam. While lawyers and attorneys often act as advocates, barristers are often present in higher courts. Barristers typically have extensive knowledge of court proceedings and may also look at the theoretical side of law. Therefore, it’s important to understand what a lawyer and an attorney are in the US.
Although lawyers and attorneys are similar in some respects, there are differences between their roles. While they both must complete a law school and be admitted to the bar, some are not licensed in their state. They may work as government advisors or consultants, or they may be involved in business activities. While they both serve clients with legal advice, they are different and should be referred to separately.