Attorney vs. Lawyer

Clients Rate Lawyers on our Platform 4.9/5 Stars
based on 2,680 reviews

Jump to Section

Need help with a Business Contract?

Post Project Now

Attorney vs. Lawyer: What’s the Difference?

Here you will find out the difference between an attorney vs. lawyer. In the legal field, these are titles for legal professionals. Many people think that an attorney and a lawyer are one of the same. This is not exactly true. While both are legal professionals who have been educated in the field of law, there are some differences between the two. Regularly, the terms often are used interchangeably, despite the differences in meaning.

Attorney Definition

The term attorney is an abbreviated form of the formal title ‘ attorney at law’ . An attorney is a person who has graduated from law school, has passed the bar exam in the state in which they wish to practice law, and is a member of the State Bar Association in the state in which he or she is practicing. Simplified, an attorney is someone who acts as a practitioner in the court of law.

In the role of an attorney, a person can:

  • Act as legal representation for their clients in a court of law
  • Interpret federal and state laws to better meet the needs of their clients
  • Offer legal advice relating directly to their client’s situation
  • Act as a consultant for businesses or individuals.

As an attorney, you will engage in attorney-client privilege . This legal term refers to a legal privilege that works to keep confidential communications between an attorney and his or her client confidential. The privilege is asserted in the face of a legal demand for the communications, such as a discovery request or a demand that the attorney testify under oath.

When you hire an attorney, you will hear the term attorney fees at some point. Attorney fees is the amount billed to a client for legal services performed on his or her behalf. These fees could be hourly, flat, or on a contingency. Attorney fees can be set by a legal services agreement or in certain types of cases, by statute or a court.

Here is an article on the difference between attorneys and lawyers.

What is a Lawyer?

A lawyer is a person who has completed law school, obtained a JD degree and someone who has not yet passed the Bar exam. If a person has not yet passed the bar exam in the state in which he or she wishes to practice, he or she will not be able to represent clients in a court of law. To practice law, provide legal advice , and represent a client in a court of law, you are required to pass the bar exam.

If a person has not yet passed the law exam, while he or she can provide legal information, he or she cannot interpret the federal and state laws to clients in reference to their legal matters.

There are several types of lawyers, one type is a transactional lawyer . A transactional lawyer counsels individuals and organizations on the legal issues generate by their business dealings. As this type of legal work is less adversarial than litigation, many lawyers are drawn to this type of work.

Another type of lawyer is a lawyer for a start-up . A lawyer for a start-up business can help you structure the business, make contracts , and agreements, review all licensing and regulatory guidelines, and make sure that you are in compliance. A start-up lawyer can also help protect your ideas and intellectual property with patents, trademarks , and copyrights.

Lawyers can work in a law firm under a licensed attorney or as part as an externship for learning experience. Practicing law and providing legal advice without having passed the bar exam illegal and could result in criminal charges and legal actions against the individual. This is something to keep in mind.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Anand A.

10 projects on CC
View Profile

Bruce B.

19 projects on CC
View Profile

Scott S.

12 projects on CC
View Profile

Daehoon P.

73 projects on CC
View Profile

Attorney vs. Lawyer: Roles and Responsibilities

The key role for an attorney is practicing law in court. However, there are many more roles and responsibilities that an attorney takes on. Following are general roles and responsibilities for an attorney.

  • Attend ALL pretrial hearings and hearings to represent clients in a court of law
  • Collect retainers from clients and execute contracts
  • Provide legal support and guidance
  • Advise clients on the best behavior while charges are pending, including confiding in family and friends and social media use
  • Meet with clients at the remand or an office to critically discuss the pending charges and strategize on how best to defend
  • Finding ethical solutions to legal matters
  • Communicate with clients to understand their legal concerns and needs to hep provide them with essential pieces of advice
  • Strategize on how to resolve the clients’ cases in a favorable and cost-effective manner
  • Enlighten clients about legal options and make sure the client knows the possible outcomes or threats
  • Develop ideal arguments and represent clients in civil and criminal legal proceedings
  • Staying up to date on current legislation
  • Build trustworthy relationships with clients
  • Prepare legal documents such as dispositions, pleadings, and contracts in a timely and accurate manner
  • Assist clients with the execution of agreements such as plea bargains
  • Perform research to gather pertinent information for each client case

While all the roles and responsibilities listed are important, some of the roles and responsibilities carry more weight than others, such as attending ALL pretrial hearings and hearings to represent clients. If an attorney is unable to appear, he or she can either, request a postponement or have another attorney appear on his or her behalf, if allowed, and with the consent of the client of course.

Here is an article on the duties of an attorney.

Other types of Legal Professionals

Besides, attorneys and lawyers, there are other terms that refer to legal professionals who are similar to lawyers and attorneys. The other legal terms are solicitor, barrister, advocate, esquire, and counsel.

  • Solicitor . Solicitor is a term specific to professionals practicing law in the United Kingdom and other countries. This term refers to someone who practices law in a primarily administrative and client-facing setting. However, solicitors sometimes appear in court, especially lower courts.
  • Barrister . This is another term referring to a legal professional in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. Unlike solicitors, the primary duty of a barrister includes representing clients in court, especially in complex cases. Barristers must fulfill a specific set of educational and training requirements, including some traditional formalities.
  • Esquire . Esquire, often abbreviated to Esq., is an honorary title generally given to someone who has taken and passed the bar exam and is licensed by their state’s bar association. The term Esq. or Esquire will often appear on the business cards, resumes, or signatures, following the name of the person who has met the necessary requirements.
  • Advocate . In the United States, the word advocate is often used interchangeably with terms like attorney and lawyer and bears no special legal significance.
  • Counsel . The term legal counsel is a general term for someone who gives legal advice. This term often specifically refers to an individual who is trained in law, who works in-house for an organization of corporation.

How much do lawyers charge?

The hourly charge of a lawyer differs depending upon the type of lawyer that you need, the number of years of experience the lawyer has, and how complex the legal matter is. There are other factors that could come into play as well. To get an ideal of the average hourly rate of a lawyer, based on years of experience, you can refer to Laffey-Matrix.

Learn more about the average cost of a lawyer .

Being able to represent a client in a court of law is the most significant difference between an attorney and lawyer. If you have been formally educated in the field of law, but has not yet passed the bar exam, you are a lawyer. If you have graduated from law school, passed the bar exam, and is a member of State Bar Association in the state in where you are licensed to practice law, you are an attorney. Keep in mind that while all attorneys are lawyers, not all lawyers are attorneys.

Get Help with your Legal Project

Do you need to find a lawyer to help with a legal project? Post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to get flat fee bids from lawyers to review and compare. All lawyers in our network are vetted by our team and peer reviewed by our clients for you to explore before hiring.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Lawyers

View Keidi
Member Since:
August 25, 2021

Keidi C.

Principal Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Boston, MA
24 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MA, NY
New England Law | Boston

Keidi S. Carrington brings a wealth of legal knowledge and business experience in the financial services area with a particular focus on investment management. She is a former securities examiner at the United States Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Associate Counsel at State Street Bank & Trust and has consulted for various investment houses and private investment entities. Her work has included developing a mutual fund that invested in equity securities of listed real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other listed real estate companies; establishing private equity and hedge funds that help clients raise capital by preparing offering materials, negotiating with prospective investors, preparing partnership and LLC agreements and advising on and documenting management arrangements; advising on the establishment of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs/Token Offerings) and counseling SEC registered and state investment advisers regarding organizational structure and compliance. Ms. Carrington is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in International Relations. She earned her Juris Doctorate from New England Law | Boston and her LL.M. in Banking and Financial Law from Boston University School of Law. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New York. Currently, her practice focuses on assisting start ups, small and mid size businesses with their legal needs in the areas of corporate and securities law.

View Jim
Member Since:
August 13, 2021

Jim S.

Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
36 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Notre Dame

Jim Slattery most recently served as General Counsel at Regional News Network, a large owner of broadcast television stations. Jim is an experienced attorney with broad-based expertise. He is a seasoned negotiator who has been involved in negotiations as complex as the Olympic Games. Jim spent 18 years as Vice President for Business and Legal Affairs at NBCUniversal. Previously, Jim worked in the media industry in various roles at All American Television. Jim’s success can be attributed to his ability to properly analyze data, manage projects, lead teams, develop creative solutions for complex problems, focus on strategically optimizing assets, manage/allocate risk and collaborate with divergent constituent groups to achieve objectives. Jim received a J.D. and a B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

View Namrita
Member Since:
August 18, 2021

Namrita N.

Attorney at Law
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Plano, TX
2 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MN, TX
Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Retired Dentist transitioned to Law, with a special interest in Commercial Real Estate, Startup businesses, Asset Purchase Agreements, and Employment Contracts. I love to help dentists and physicians with legal issues pertaining to licensing, credentialing, employment, and general business-legal questions.

View Jonathan
Member Since:
September 18, 2021

Jonathan H.

Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
New York
10 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Pace Law School

I’m an attorney focusing my practice on concierge corporate and intellectual property law for startups and high-growth companies. I also serve as outside General Counsel to several businesses in various sectors. Since founding my practice I've worked with hundreds of clients across a variety of industries. My experience as a former General Counsel of a premier edtech company gives me unique insight into the challenges my clients face and how to resolve them efficiently and cost-effectively.

View George
Member Since:
August 18, 2021

George F.

Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Astoria, NY
21 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Fordham University School of Law

The Law Office of George K. Fuiaxis, from the very beginning in 2002, has built a reputation with its clients as an unmatched, diligent, hands on law practice that is always on duty to find the best course of action for its clients. With a supreme pledge of exceptional service to its clients in the areas of Real Estate (Commercial & Residential), Loan Modifications, Intellectual Property, Corporate Law & Business Transactions, Wills, Trusts & Estates, the Law Office of George K. Fuiaxis creates solutions for the many faceted problems faced by its clients. The office represents several various clients, including well known lending institutions, foreign and domestic corporations, sellers and buyers of residential and commercial real estate, residential and commercial landlords and tenants, well known restaurant and business owners, automobile dealerships, airline companies, well known fashion, sports and entertainment industry individuals and corporations, information technology (IT) startups and well known IT companies.

View Chris
Member Since:
August 22, 2021

Chris J.

Outside Counsel
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Irvine, CA
27 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

I'm a business law generalist with over 24 years of experience, including as in-house General Counsel, as outside counsel through my own firm and as an attorney in an Am Law 100 law firm. My employers and clients uniformly appreciate my ability to (i) negotiate and close transactions quickly and effectively, and (ii) to make the complex simple. Among other things, I can efficiently assist you on entity formation, governance, and structure; HR issues; mergers and acquisitions; and the negotiation and drafting of all types of commercial contracts. I'm the proud recipient of multiple Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Awards given only to the top 5% of attorneys for quality of service.

View Gregory
Member Since:
August 23, 2021

Gregory W.

Business Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Los Angeles
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
University of West Los Angeles

Strategic thinking business minded Outside General Counsel here to help you with your company. I have been able to help guide business owners from startup through series A, B, & C funding and ultimately IPO's. Regardless of your plans I am here to help you succeed as you grow your business.

View Michael
Member Since:
February 14, 2022

Michael O.

Managing Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Los Angeles
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA, NY
University of Southern California

A corporate and commercial attorney with experience in transactional legal services including corporate and finance transactions, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, commercial contracts, bankruptcy, restructuring, international business transactions and general counsel services. Additional background skills and experience include investment banking, financial analysis, and commercial litigation. Sectors covered include technology, media, franchises, and business services providers, from start-ups to medium and large enterprises.

View Daliah
Member Since:
September 1, 2021

Daliah S.

Principal Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Chicago, IL
18 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
University of Illinois College of Law

Daliah Saper operates a cutting-edge internet and social media law practice that regularly leads local and national media outlets to solicit her commentary on emerging internet law issues involving cyberbullying, sexting, catfishing, revenge porn, anonymous online defamation, domain name and user-name squatting, privacy, and the latest business decisions made by social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. As a litigator Daliah represents companies bringing or defending business and intellectual property disputes. (She has argued cases in a number of jurisdictions including taking a case all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.) As a transactional lawyer she helps clients choose the right business entity, drafts contracts and licensing agreements, advises on sweepstakes and contest rules, and ensures website terms of use and privacy policies are compliant, and provides comprehensive trademark and copyright counseling. Since founding Saper Law Offices in 2005, Daliah has been named a 40 Under 40 by Law Bulletin Publishing Co., a top Media & Advertising attorney by Super Lawyers Magazine 14 years in a row, and has been repeatedly recognized as a leading media and entertainment lawyer by Chambers and Partners. For the past eleven years, she also has taught entertainment and social media law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

View Alex
Member Since:
August 26, 2021

Alex M.

Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Los Angeles, California
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
Southwestern Law School

Mr. Mehdipour attended the University of California San Diego where he received his degree in political science. After graduating from UCSD, Mr. Mehdipour attended Southwestern University School of Law where he received his JD. Upon passing the bar, Mr. Mehdipour gained invaluable experience both in a law firm and business setting. Mr. Mehdipour uses his prior business and legal experiences to negotiate the most advantageous results for his clients.

View Alen
Member Since:
August 26, 2021

Alen A.

Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Los Angeles, CA
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
University of West Los Angeles

Alen Aydinian is a versatile attorney with over a decade of experience working with business owners and real estate professionals. Client engagement is central to a successful attorney/client relationship. Alen personally manages all client relationships so that his clients can see how their interests are being served at every stage of the process.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call