Attorneys and lawyers are often confused. The critical difference between the two is that professional attorneys go through the bar exams by receiving a license to practice law which courts of law give out. In contrast, lawyers don’t need to do such exams since they usually have already gone through this process when studying in law school.
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So, Who Is A Lawyer?
Well, a lawyer is anyone who has had their law degree approved by the state in which they live and can represent people in courts, give out legal advice, and more.
A lawyer doesn’t need to be employed by an attorney or company but can independently provide services to people or businesses and even work as a judge if qualified since they’ve already passed the bar exam.
Lawyers are also seen as more qualified than attorneys, so companies usually tend to go after someone with a law degree rather than those who have attended law school but haven’t taken the licensing exams (a big difference).
Who Qualifies as an Attorney?
An attorney is someone who has taken the bar exam and passed it along with being approved by a supreme court to practice law. From here, an attorney can work for other people or take on cases/clients themselves.
An attorney’s educational background is not only based on law but also includes courses specific to different areas of law, whereas lawyers are mostly self-taught types.
What Are the Similarities Between an Attorney and a Lawyer?
- Both go to law school and study the same concepts. As mentioned above, there is a bit of difference between where the studies take place (as lawyers typically learn in universities while attorneys learn at bar associations), but this doesn’t mean one is more superior to the other.
- They both can represent individuals or companies in courts and give out legal advice to those who need it.
- Potentially both work as judges (an attorney who has passed their bar exam usually cannot become a judge unless appointed by a supreme court.)
- Both have different licenses that allow them to practice law, whether state by state or internationally, depending on the location they’re working from/in.
- Both have to adhere to the codes of conduct set out by their governing body, which helps to ensure that those receiving legal advice are being dealt with fairly and ethically.
What Is the Critical Difference Between Attorneys and Lawyers?
- Bar exams – an attorney is someone who has passed their bar exam and been approved by a supreme court to practice law, whereas a lawyer is anyone with a law degree that hasn’t necessarily done the bar exams.
- Specialization – attorneys specialize in one or two areas of law, whereas lawyers know about various legal concepts and can advise on general legal advice.
- Education – attorneys must have undergraduate degrees as well as their law degree, whereas lawyers only need a law degree
- Their licensing – attorneys are approved by the Supreme Court to practice law, whereas lawyers can give legal advice or take on cases/clients for themselves.
- Appearance in courts – an attorney will appear before courts of law as they have already passed their bar exam and been given a license to do so (and have studied courses about specific areas of law like civil, criminal, etc.). In contrast, lawyers don’t need this extra step to appear before the court but can still work within them.
- Regulations – attorneys must comply with rules set out by their governing body, which helps to ensure they are providing quality legal services, whereas lawyers are not mandated to do this.
So, Do I Hire an Attorney or a Lawyer for Legal Advice?
It depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s a general case that needs explaining, then sometimes lawyers can be better since they have various knowledge about different areas of law. At the same time, some attorneys might not know how to deal with the situation since they only specialize in one area. Lawyers typically provide much-generalized advice, whereas an attorney will give a client more personalized and specialized types of advice specific to their case.
Why Is There a Difference in Taste When it Comes to Billing by Attorneys/Lawyers?
Again, this comes down to specialization. Lawyers are more generalized and might have a broader range of services they offer as part of their billing process.
On the other hand, an attorney is going to have a narrower field of services, but each one of those services would be more specialized and tailored to the individual or company they are representing in court.
The critical difference between the two is that an attorney has gone through their bar exam, passed it, and been licensed to practice law. Lawyers have law degrees but not necessarily bar exams. Attorneys specialize more so than lawyers, but both can provide general and specialized types of advice depending on what you need.