Definition Definition

Lawyer vs. Attorney: Is There a Difference? With Comparison Table

Lawyer vs. Attorney

Lawyers and attorneys are established professionals in the legal field. Even though lawyers and attorneys have a similar backgrounds, there are numerous differences between these two professions. The titles "Attorney" and "Lawyer" both refer to those who have graduated from law school. 

Any law school graduate is a lawyer, whereas an attorney is someone who practices it professionally. A lawyer can only practice law if they have a client or can advise someone in exchange for a fee. Attorneys represent their clients as “Advocates” before the court of law. It is the attorney's obligation to represent the best interests of the client.

Check out the Comparison Table

Who is Lawyer?

The term "Lawyer" originated from Middle English and refers to an individual who has obtained legal training and skills. "One who conveys legal guidance and focuses on people with legal issues" is what a lawyer identifies as. If a law student does not consider taking the bar exam or ends up taking it but fails, it does not presume that they will never be able to apply what they’ve learned in their degree program at work. 

Many people with law degrees, on the other hand, work in fields other than law, such as government and business. In most states, lawyers must have earned a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from a law school and expect to pass the bar or licensing exam.

Criminal charges can be filed against those who practice law without a license. Improper usage  of law is classified as a third-degree misdemeanor and two consecutive offenses  are considered as first-degree misdemeanors.

Lawyers can excel in different areas inside the field of law, as well as in other fields like medicine, business etc. Legal practitioners, for example, concentrate on matters such as marriage contracts, divorces and child custody etc. A criminal lawyer, on the other hand, specializes in criminal matters involving people charged with criminal offenses such as physical abuse, murder etc.

Who is Attorney?

The word "Attorney" comes from French atorné, which means "an individual who acts as a representative or delegate for another.". On the engagement of service users, an attorney-at-law is characterized as a professional in a courtroom who is eligible to prosecute and defend a client in court. 'Attorney-at-law' is the full-length formal term for an attorney. In the United States, the term "Attorney" is used to refer to a lawyer. The word "Attorney-at-law" first appeared in print back in 1768. To defend a case before a judge and jury, they must be skilled and certified.

As a member of the government court, an attorney is bound by the state guidelines of professional behavior. These ethical regulations outline how they should operate inside respective regions including branding, maintaining public and financial matters  separately, attorney-client confidentiality, and appropriate interactions with their clients.

What Attorneys Can Do That Lawyers Cannot?

Legal education is important even if an individual does not attend or pass the bar examination and obtain a professional license in their country. For example, a lawyer may use their legal skills and qualifications to produce policy papers. Lawyers can also be recruited as advisors and counselors, due to their legal training, can offer valuable suggestions.

An attorney, on the other hand, has significantly greater power. For example, an attorney may sign documents and defend road accident victims before a jury in a courtroom, among other things. That's their primary role and that is what the majority of people imagine to be taking up as their profession when they enroll in graduate school. Moreover, an attorney can perform all of the functions of a lawyer, they might be referred to as a lawyer as well as an Attorney.

Key Differences Between Lawyers and Attorneys

Although every attorney is a lawyer, not all lawyers are attorneys. In some circumstances, this may entail informing a client about unpleasant details regarding the case. They must always keep the client’s best interests in mind. A lawyer is an individual who has obtained a degree from a law school and received legal training. However, they are not authorized or licensed to represent clients in court. Let’s take a look at the comparison table below so that the details and differences can be pinpointed precisely-

Comparison Table

Parameter of comparison




Characterized as a professional in a courtroom who is eligible to prosecute and defend actions in that court.

Someone whose job is to advise people about the law.


Appointed by a legal body.

Hired professionally.


Their pay is handled by the legal body. Most of the time, their pay is fixed. 

It differs from person to person. A Lawyer can demand or negotiate it.


Attorneys can be promoted within the legal system.

Cannot be promoted since they haven’t entered the legal system. 


Attorneys can be referred to as  lawyers.

A lawyer cannot be referred to as an attorney.


Have to have taken and passed the bar exam.

Not necessary to take the bar exam.

Let’s elaborate on some of the major differences between these professions -


The term "Attorney" originated from the French word and “Lawyer,” on the other hand, has Middle English origins. 

Education and Licensure

The way these two professionals make use of  their degrees is the most significant difference between them. An attorney has managed to pass the bar exam, whereas a lawyer has not passed it. The licensing board of the government organizes the bar exam, which contains questions that assess understanding of federal regulations as well as basic general rules. In law school, students study law and legislation, as well as numerous cases including how to implement reasoning and assessment to cater to specific client needs.

Client Acquisition

A lawyer may or may not be required to appear in court on behalf of a client but they do not have the license to defend them. They have the option to perform behind the scene tasks. On the other hand, an attorney represents a client in a court of law.


Despite the fact that law school teaches a holistic view of all parts of the constitution, lawyers and attorneys seek external training and skills in their fields of specialization to get further competency. Attorneys often only meet with and give services to the community whose issues fall within their practice area as most Lawyers continue their training aspiring to be Attorneys

Job Titles

Legal advisors and appropriate regulatory experts are two professional options for lawyers. Lawyers can work for businesses, law enforcement agencies, or non-profit groups. Some people may want to work in academia as well teaching their learned craft. The expertise, place, amount of practice, and  growth of attorneys determine their career pathways in the fiercely competitive field as they aspire to be every client’s first choice in their field of expertise.


An attorney, in comparison to a lawyer, possesses more power and authority as a superior in the field of law.


One of the distinctions can be seen in the practices of attorneys and lawyers. A lawyer's main function is to follow the constitution. While an attorney considers the impacts of the argument in response to the interpretations. It could happen during an inquiry or the preparation of a plea agreement.


In civil proceedings, anyone can advocate themselves in a trial, regardless of whether or not they have a law degree. Attorneys, on the other hand, are treated differently because of their learned and practiced expertise in solving civil disputes. Lawyers can help with legal matters as consultants.

Practical Example

Jain is a passionate law student and finished her degree recently. But to enter her professional career and represent clients she has to acquire a license certifying proper qualifications. On the other hand, there is David who is practicing law and successfully handling clients after finishing law school. Now you must be wondering if both of them are lawyers or attorneys. 

Here, Jain is considered a lawyer because she finished her degree from a law school successfully but doesn't have the license and professional experience to practice law. She may or may not be required to appear in court on behalf of a client. But David has a law degree as well as has the professional license, experience, and skills to successfully enter his profession and represent clients in the courtroom.

Share it: