Similarities Between a Lawyer and an Attorney

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The phrases lawyer and attorney are frequently used synonymously in the United States. Due to this, both legal professionals and non-professionals frequently inquire as to whether an attorney and a lawyer are the same things.

The criteria needed to be regarded as a lawyer vs. an attorney are only sometimes taken into account in casual conversation. 

Although these names typically refer to the same individual in ordinary conversation, there are differences between the two terms. However, a lawyer and an attorney also share certain similarities.

Continue reading to know more about what a lawyer and an attorney are and the similarities between them.

What Is a Lawyer?

The term “lawyer” refers to someone who has received legal education and training.

  • A JD (Juris Doctor) graduate who has completed law school is referred to as a lawyer.
  • Because there are many job opportunities for those with a law degree without passing the bar exam, a lawyer is not required to do so.
  • However, passing the bar exam is necessary to practice law, give legal counsel, and assist in court. 
  • Legal advice from an unlicensed attorney is prohibited, leading to criminal prosecution and other legal repercussions.
  • With it, law graduates can only offer legal material if they assess how it might apply to a specific issue.

A transactional lawyer is one of the many different sorts of lawyers. A transactional lawyer advises people and businesses on the legal concerns brought on by their business activities. Many lawyers are drawn to this job because it is less combative than litigation.

A lawyer for a startup is another category of attorney. A lawyer may assist you in structuring your startup company, creating contracts and agreements, reviewing all licensing and regulatory requirements, and ensuring that you comply. 

A startup lawyer can also assist with securing patents, trademarks, and copyrights to safeguard your ideas and intellectual property.

A licensed attorney may supervise a lawyer’s work in a law firm, or a lawyer may participate in an externship to gain experience. Most graduates follow this route before passing the bar exam. However, the exam is quite difficult, necessitates extensive study, and typically lasts two to three days.

What is an attorney?

Attorney is a word with French linguistic roots. Originally, it referred to someone who served as another person’s agent or deputy. Today, the word’s meaning has slightly (though not significantly) changed from that.

An attorney, sometimes known as an “attorney-at-law,” is a qualified lawyer who has passed the state bar exam and is authorized to represent clients in court, represent them in other legal procedures, and provide legal advice specifically relevant to their case. 

  • Like conventional lawyers, they can also serve as advisors for businesses and people.
  • To practice law in the courtroom for both civil and criminal cases, attorneys must abide by the standards of professional behavior and a code of ethics as its members. 
  • In the context of legal processes, the word “bar” itself is a product of Middle English.
  • It alludes to the actual partition separating a courtroom where attorneys would communicate.
  • A court professional authorized by the state to represent a client in court or bring criminal charges against those accused of breaching the law is also known as an attorney-at-law.


Although they are not synonyms, the words attorney and lawyer are frequently used interchangeably in the US due to their similarities. Below are a few of these similarities.

Studied Law

Even though their licenses vary significantly between a lawyer and an attorney, both lawyers and attorneys will have studied the law and earned a law degree, typically a Juris Doctor (JD) or an LLB.

Although legal practitioners may have a specialty sector of law they are most experienced in, there are no significant variations in the amount of fundamental education for lawyers and attorneys.

Both lawyers and attorneys receive extra training specific to their chosen fields of specialization, and they seldom change their specialties.

Roles and Responsibilities

All lawyers are attorneys, but not all attorneys are lawyers. This indicates that while some tasks are reserved for lawyers, they are not necessarily part of their job description. However, this also implies that lawyers and attorneys share some roles.

Although not all lawyers are qualified to do this, attorneys often represent their clients and participate in legal procedures within a court of law. A lawyer can only legally carry out this duty in their state if they have obtained membership in their state bar organization or passed the bar test in the US.

However, attorneys and lawyers might assume roles as consultants or legal advisors in a certain field. By doing this, lawyers can offer legal counsel without standing in for the client in court.

It’s typical for lawyers to give their legal services in-house, whether for contract management or maintaining compliance within the business (although lawyers can also do so).

Salary Range

Who gets paid more is an important factor to consider when determining whether to be an attorney or stay a lawyer. 

Although attorneys technically possess greater qualifications than lawyers because of their bar membership, attorneys do not always earn more money. Both professions’ income ranges might occasionally be quite comparable.

This is because several positions are available for lawyers and attorneys, each of which differs greatly depending on the individual’s location of practice, area of specialization, years of experience, and level of professional advancement.

However, both attorneys and lawyers can assume roles as consultants or legal advisors within a certain field. By doing so, lawyers can offer legal counsel without having to stand in for the client in court.

Legal services in-house, whether for contract administration or ensuring compliance within the business, is usual for lawyers (although lawyers can also do it).


Is an attorney the same as lawyer?

No, an attorney is not the same as a lawyer. Although there exist some similarities between the two, they are quite distinct.

What is another word for attorney?

Attorney-at-law is another word for attorney.

Why is it called Attorney at Law?

This phrase first appeared in England, where attorneys-at-law was used to describe attorneys admitted to practice in common law courts.

Can lawyers be called Dr?

Yes, lawyers with a JD degree can be called doctors, although this is not commonly done as it sometimes can be misleading. 

What does an attorney do?

In civil or criminal disputes, attorneys provide clients with advice and representation. They offer expert counsel, draught paperwork, and show up in court to represent their clients.

Can you sue a lawyer?

You can pursue legal action against your attorney for professional negligence if their carelessness resulted in harm to you or a less favorable verdict or settlement in your case.

Can you call yourself a lawyer without passing the bar?

Yes, you can call yourself a lawyer without passing the bar. Passing the bar is a requirement for becoming an attorney, not for a lawyer.

Author: Syed Hasan

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