Are Lawyers and Attorneys the Same Thing?


The terms lawyer and attorney are often used interchangeably in conversation throughout the United States. You may be under the notion that lawyers and attorneys are precisely the same professions with the same roles. Lawyers and attorneys do share a lot of similarities, and both can be extremely useful when in need of legal advice or representation. 

However, there are essential distinctions between attorneys and lawyers that are important to understand when seeking legal help. So, are lawyers and attorneys the same thing, and what makes them different? Our legal team will define lawyer vs attorney and share what you need to know about each.

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Is an Attorney a Lawyer?

There is one key factor in understanding the difference between lawyers and attorneys. Both attorneys and lawyers have graduated and formally trained in law school to earn a law degree. The main difference between the two professions is the implementation of the law degree and associated experience in the field. Now, are attorneys and lawyers the same thing, and what makes an attorney different than a lawyer?

While both an attorney and a lawyer hold a degree, have passed the bar exam and can provide legal advice or counsel, only an attorney may practice law in court and represent a client in a courtroom.

Are There Different Education Requirements for Attorneys and Lawyers?


Essentially, there are no different education requirements for attorneys and lawyers. Both have completed and graduated law school with a Juris Doctorate (JD degree) or advanced degree.

However, attorneys have additionally passed the bar exam, which enables a law professional to:

  • Engage in legal court proceedings
  • Represent clients
  • Practice law in a courtroom

Attorneys must pass the bar exam to practice law in a courtroom and represent individuals. In contrast, lawyers who have not passed the bar exam cannot represent anyone in the court or engage in legal proceedings in a courtroom. Lawyers tend to take the role of interpreting legal text and providing legal consultation or advice.

When it comes to attorneys vs lawyers, both are formally trained and experienced in law, and will usually have a specialization in a particular area of law, such as:

  • Personal injury
  • Real estate
  • Entertainment or music industry law
  • Environmental law
  • Family law

These are areas in which they can specifically and intentionally interpret and practice law within those fields. Lawyers and attorneys rarely practice outside of the specialization of their law degrees and experience. 

What Are the Differences in Roles and Duties of Lawyers and Attorneys?

The confusing aspect of attorneys vs lawyers and their roles is that the duties of both can overlap each other. The key difference between attorneys and lawyers is that attorneys can practice law in a courtroom and represent an organization or individual.

While attorneys will practice law in court, lawyers will apply their degree and knowledge in other applicable law settings. Lawyers may act as consultants, advocates, or advisors in navigating and interpreting the law.

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What Are Other Related Terms for Legal Professionals?

In almost any situation where you seek legal skills or advice, a lawyer or an attorney will be the specialists you need. However, there is a myriad of roles and professions that one can perform once they have a law degree, and some of them have different names.

  • Counsel: The term counsel is generally held for a person that interprets and gives legal advice. The term can be interchangeable with lawyer and attorney. However, a counsel generally works specifically within an organization or firm.
  • Solicitor: A solicitor is a term primarily reserved for practicing attorneys and lawyers in the United Kingdom and other countries. Generally, solicitors work in an administrative or client-centric environment.
  • Barrister: Another term for someone practicing law within the United Kingdom and other countries, a barrister most often represents clients directly in court, especially in long and complex cases. Barristers generally require more formal education and training than a solicitor.
  • Esquire: Often abbreviated to Esq., an Esquire is an honorary title given to a lawyer or attorney who has passed the bar examination and is certified by the state’s bar association.
  • Advocate: Advocate can refer to different roles depending on the country in which the term is used. Within the United States, many use the term the same way as “attorney” or “lawyer” without differentiation. Although, a legal advocate may not necessarily be a professional lawyer or attorney.

Should You Hire a Lawyer or Attorney After an Accident?


If you have been involved in an accident, seeking legal representation can help ensure you are fairly compensated. Whether you are seeking legal advice or needing representation in court, a lawyer or attorney will ensure you are taken care of in the best possible way.

Let the highly specialized and skilled attorneys at Robert P. Schuster, Attorneys at Law, fight for your rights after being seriously injured in an accident. Schedule a consultation with a caring and capable attorney today to see if you qualify to bring a legal claim for compensation.