Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney

When you search online for a personal injury lawyer, you may see results for both attorneys and lawyers. It is because lawyers and attorneys are often used interchangeably. The terms lawyer and attorney, however, differ from one another. Attorneys and lawyers both have law degrees, but they don’t practice the same type of law.

What is the Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

Getting a Juris Doctor degree – a graduate-entry professional degree in law – is one thing, but passing the bar exam and practicing law is another. It’s important to clarify the differences between attorneys and lawyers before we discuss what the most interesting types of attorneys and lawyers are. Although an attorney is a lawyer, a lawyer is not necessarily an attorney.what is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney

Attorney vs Lawyer: Comparing Definitions


The word attorney is derived from a French word meaning to act on behalf of other people. An attorney is an abbreviation of the formal title ‘attorney at law’. An attorney is someone who not only has law training but also practices it in court. The definition of an attorney is a person who practices law in a court of law.

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A lawyer refers to someone who is educated and trained in the law, and it derives from Middle English. People who have graduated from law school and taken and passed the bar exam are lawyers.

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Attorney vs Lawyer: Differences in Roles and Duties

It is important to distinguish between the roles and responsibilities of each profession in the same way that the definition of lawyer differs from the definition of attorney.


Although a lawyer is someone who has completed law school and passed the bar exam, you do not have to practice law in court to be considered a lawyer. Consultants and advisors may work in law firms. The majority of lawyers practice in a specialized field, such as estate law, immigration law, or tax law, where they may provide legal advice to clients.


You practice law in court as an attorney. A bar exam is a requirement for becoming an attorney, which will allow them to practice law in a particular state. Like lawyers, attorneys are required to abide by a code of ethics and may practice in both civil and criminal courts.

Attorney vs Lawyer: Difference in Education


To become an attorney, one needs a bachelor’s degree, three years of law school at an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited school, and to pass the bar exam. Therefore, attorneys possess the same education as lawyers, namely that they have received a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, which allows them to take the bar examination.

Attorneys who wish to practice in more than one state must usually pass the bar exam in each state where they intend to practice.


In order to become a lawyer, one must have a bachelor’s degree and complete three years of law school. A lawyer is a person who has studied law for years and has earned a law degree [such as an LLM or JD] from a law school. Lawyers are those who have been educated in law but are not licensed to practice law in any state.

Type of Lawyers vs Attorneywhat is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney


  • Estate Lawyers: These lawyers help clients create wills
  • Corporate Lawyers: These lawyers help clients create business entities, such as sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, and corporations.
  • Tax Lawyers: These lawyers advise clients on tax and accounting matters.
  • Immigration Lawyers: These lawyers handle matters such as citizenship, green cards, asylum, and visas.
  • Employment Lawyers: They assist clients with employment-related matters such as contracts


  • Power of Attorney: Attorneys use this form to determine what’s best for their clients in terms of financial, legal, and/or medical matters.
  • Attorney-in-Fact: In this case, the term refers to someone who is authorized to conduct business for another. A Power of Attorney delegates this temporary duty to the attorney-in-fact.
  • Trial Attorneys: In court, these types of attorneys represent clients in criminal or civil cases
  • Tax Attorneys: The Internal Revenue Service, for instance, is represented by these types of attorneys
  • Immigration Attorneys: Attorneys who represent clients in court on immigration matters

Job Settings for Lawyers

A lawyer may work in a wide range of settings. The list includes, but is not limited to, law firms, private practice, corporations, the government, public interest groups, academia, and the judiciary. If you work as a lawyer, you will not try cases in court, but you may be called upon to assist other lawyers with whom you work.

Job Settings for Attorneys

Lawyers work for large law firms, in private practice, in academic institutions, in the judicial system, for the government, and for public interest organizations. When you have a JD degree and a law license, the range of possible work settings is almost endless.

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Joseph Ferriolo

Director at Wise Business Plans®
Joseph Ferriolo is the Director of Wise Business Plans. He has overseen over 15,000 written business plans during his tenure, raising over $1BN in funding and providing 30K+ consulting hours for startup companies.

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