Attorney vs. Lawyer

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

Forest H.

51 projects on CC
View Profile

Kristen R.

1 project on CC
View Profile

Lawrence S.

6 projects on CC
View Profile

Bryan B.

40 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

ContractsCounsel verified
Healthcare Law and Employment Expert
12 years practicing
Free Consultation

Pura Rodriguez, JD, MBA is the President and Managing Partner of A Physician’s Firm, based in Miami. She represents healthcare providers from different specialties in a broad range of issues, including contract review, business planning and transactions, mergers and acquisitions, vendor and contract disputes, risk management, fraud and abuse compliance (Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark), HIPAA compliance, medical staff credentialing, employment law, and federal and state regulations. She also assists providers in planning their estates, protecting their assets, and work visa requirements.

ContractsCounsel verified
12 years practicing
Free Consultation

Jaclyn is an experienced intellectual property and transactional attorney residing and working in NYC, and serving clients throughout the United States and internationally. She brings a targeted breadth of knowledge in intellectual property law, having years of experience working within the media, theater, PR and communications industries, and having represented clients in the music, entertainment, fashion, event production, digital media, tech, food/beverage, consumer goods, and beauty industries. She is an expert in trademark, copyright, and complex media and entertainment law matters. Jaclyn also taught as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo School of Law, having developed and instructed the school’s first Trademark Practicum course for international students. In her spare time, Jaclyn’s passion for theater and love for NYC keeps her exploring the boundless creativity in the world’s greatest city!

ContractsCounsel verified
3 years practicing
Free Consultation

A bilingual attorney graduated from J.D. with a C.P.A. license, an M.B.A. degree, and nearly ten years of experience in the cross-border tax field.

ContractsCounsel verified
14 years practicing
Free Consultation

Experienced and business-oriented attorney with a great depth of contract experience including vendor contracts, service contracts, employment, licenses, operating agreements and other corporate compliance documents.

ContractsCounsel verified
24 years practicing
Free Consultation

With over 21 years of practice, Chet uses his vast experiences to assist his clients in the most efficient manner possible. Chet is a magna cum laude graduate of University of Miami School of Law with an extensive background in Business Law, Commercial Real Estate, Corporate Law, Leasing Law and Telecommunications Law. Chet's prior experience includes 5 years at two of the top law firms in Georgia and 16 years of operating his own private practice.

ContractsCounsel verified
Managing Partner
41 years practicing
Free Consultation

Steve Clark has been practicing law in DFW since 1980. He is licensed in both Texas and Louisiana state and federal courts. He concentrates his practice on business clients and their needs. He has been a SuperLawyer in Texas since 2011, and is Lead Counsel rated in Business Law. He is also a Bet the Company litigator in Texas.

ContractsCounsel verified
13 years practicing
Free Consultation

I am a top-performing bi-lingual legal services professional with a proven record of success. Reputation of assessing and evaluating client’s needs and providing individualized solutions in line with those needs while efficiently handling multiple tasks simultaneously. Able to create a collaborative work environment ensuring business objectives are consistently met. Seeking an attorney role within a legal setting to apply skills in critical thinking, executive communications, and client advocacy.

ContractsCounsel verified
Managing Partner
12 years practicing
Free Consultation

I run a small law firm in Pasadena, CA. I have been practicing for almost 10 years and the other attorneys at my firm each have 12+ years of experience. We focus on business and employment law, protecting and defending business owners. While my clients are all sizes, I particularly enjoy helping smaller companies and individuals manage their legal needs without the high price tag.

ContractsCounsel verified
41 years practicing
Free Consultation

I have over 25 years' experience representing individual and company clients, large and small, in transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, private offerings of securities, commercial loans and commercial endeavors (supply contracts, manufacturing agreements, joint ventures, intellectual property licenses, etc.). My particular specialty is in complex and novel drafting.

ContractsCounsel verified
Litigation Attorney
6 years practicing
Free Consultation

I assist individuals and businesses across the state of Florida with contract drafting, contract interpretation, and issues that may arise because of contract terms, including demands (cease-and-desist letters) and litigation. I have experience with general service contracts, non-compete agreements, settlement agreements, and many other contracts. Please reach out if I can help you with a contract-related project!

ContractsCounsel verified
6 years practicing
Free Consultation

Brianna is a well-respected New York attorney with a Juris Doctorate degree in law from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law School and bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Dowling College. Since becoming an attorney, she has practiced in various areas including business law, residential real estate, commercial real estate, criminal law, traffic law, employment law, landlord tenant law, estate planning, and has represented intermediaries in procurement and the personal protective equipment industry. Brianna has broad and extensive business experience; She is an entrepreneur and co-owner of a microtechnology manufacturing company that was built by her and her partner, where she also served as the Chief Legal Officer and Human Resource Manager for the company. While building the manufacturing business, she created a brokerage firm for business transactions and has managed several other businesses which she has ownership interest in. Brianna’s involvement in these various businesses over the past 15 years provides a unique skillset to her clients; Not only does she understand contractual principals and obligations from a legal perspective while drafting and negotiating agreements, but she also has the foresight, experience, and ability to ensure the agreement reflects the practical aspects of the business. Based on the client’s needs and desired outcome, she has the forethought to cover different angles that would be overlooked from a legal standpoint, and as a result she is able to help prevent unforeseen business ramifications. She conducts extensive risk assessments on behalf of her clients and minimizes exposure to potential liability without “over lawyering” agreements. Additionally, she specializes in drafting and negotiating agreements. Negotiation is a passion of hers which was applied in law school while she was a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, notably winning Touro Law School’s intraschool negotiation competition. In her more recent years, Brianna has removed herself from her various business interests to focus on her law practice. Brianna has a strong moral compass and believes in quality over quantity. She treats every client as a top priority; thus, she will not take on many cases at a time because she wants to give each client the focus and attention they deserve. She has sharp attention to detail and is a forceful advocate for every client.

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