Are Lawyer And Attorney the Same: Let’s Find Out

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By Molly

Lawyer and attorney are frequently used in the same context in the United States. This is why the question “are lawyer and attorney the same?” is frequently posed by both legal professionals and non-professionals. The precise criteria that must be met to be referred to as an attorney vs a lawyer are not usually taken into account in everyday conversation. 

You can better grasp the difference between an attorney and a lawyer by understanding the roots of both terms. Although both titles refer to a person who has received legal education, knowing the technical meanings highlights the distinctions between a lawyer and an attorney

Attorneys vs lawyers


The word “attorney” has French roots and comes from a verb that means to represent someone else. An attorney is a shortened version of the official title “attorney at law.” An attorney is, in essence, a person who represents a client in a court of law. In court, you practice law as an attorney. An attorney can only practice law in a particular jurisdiction after passing the bar test, a requirement for admission. Attorneys, like lawyers, are bound by an ethical code and are permitted to represent clients in civil and criminal courts.


The term “lawyer” is derived from Middle English and designates a person who has received legal education and training. Law graduates who have taken and passed the bar test are known as lawyers.

It is optional to practice law in court to be regarded as a lawyer, even if one must have graduated from law school and passed the bar test. As consultants or advisors, lawyers are sometimes employed. Many people decide to work in a specific area of law, such as estate planning, immigration, or taxation, where they can offer customers, legal counsel.

What is the Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney? - Houston, TX -  Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers


Difference between a lawyer and an attorney

It is useful to remember that while all attorneys are lawyers, not all are attorneys. The main distinction is that lawyers cannot represent clients in court or other legal processes, while attorneys can. The other major differences between both are discussed below.


The way these two professionals use their education sets them apart from one another. A lawyer may or may not have passed the bar test, whereas an attorney has taken and passed it. The state’s bar association administers the bar exam, which contains questions that gauge candidates’ understanding of fundamental legal principles and state-specific legislation. It takes a lot of time to study for the exam, which normally lasts two or three days.

Jobs for lawyers 

lawyer for legal advice

  • National average yearly salary: $128,630 

Primary obligations: A legal counsel lawyer’s main responsibilities include advising and guiding a business or organization. They assist the organization’s members with all legal requirements and act as the internal legal compliance resource.

Legal counsel lawyer

  • National average yearly salary: $80,923

Primary obligations: A legal officer manages internal and external issues and concerns while keeping an eye on all legal matters within an organization. Among the major responsibilities are offering legal counsel, conducting research, processing and creating legal papers, and spotting potential hazards to the firm.


  • National average yearly salary: $70.294

Primary obligations: Lawyers’ main responsibilities include giving legal counsel to other people, including citizens, companies, and governmental organizations. They might also draft legal papers and interpret rules, statutes, and regulations.

Jobs for attorneys 

Patent attorney

  • National average yearly salary: $139,559

Primary obligations: A patent attorney’s main responsibilities include assisting inventors in negotiating for and acquiring the legal rights to their innovations. They educate their clients about the intellectual property protected by their contracts, and they frequently create patent applications. In cases of patent infringement, they might also represent their clients.

litigation attorney

  • National average yearly salary: $101,920 

Primary obligations: In court lawsuits, mediations, administrative law hearings, and arbitrations, litigation attorneys represent their clients. In addition to studying prior cases, creating paperwork, scheduling meetings with prospective clients, and attending to complex legal requirements, they spend their time preparing to present cases in court.

Staff Attorney

  • National average yearly salary: $69,675

Primary obligations: A staff attorney is an employee of a particular corporation and oversees the legal services the organization requires. Other responsibilities include:

  • Administering contracts and employment agreements.
  • Doing legal analysis and research.
  • Offering training for professional development.
  • Defending the legal rights of an organization.

Lawyer/Attorney in Turkey


Most people believe that lawyers and attorneys are interchangeable and comprise the entirety of the legal profession. However, there are also significant distinctions between those two in terms of prerequisites and career prospects, just as there are many other careers you can have with a legal degree. Law students must know these differences to get a Juris Doctor or JD degree.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do I use the word lawyer or attorney?

Even though all attorneys are also lawyers, not all lawyers are attorneys. Keep this in mind. An attorney has to pass the state bar exam and is qualified to practice law in their state, known as an attorney. Each state has its standards for attorneys, and an attorney must retake the bar test to practice in another state. For lawyers who have already passed the bar, several jurisdictions have reciprocity agreements or require fewer hours for the bar exam. In other words, use the word “lawyer” if in doubt.

Is there a distinction between an attorney and a lawyer?

When comparing an attorney and a lawyer, their capacity to practice law in a courtroom is the primary distinction. If a lawyer has an ABA license, representing clients qualifies them as an attorney. As a result, an attorney has more work options than a lawyer who is not a member of a bar organization because many jobs only accept applicants who have passed the state bar test. The legal criteria for working as a personal injury lawyer, government adviser, legal officer, or legal professional are the same as those for someone who takes part in legal proceedings in court.

Are attorneys known as attorneys?

Yes, after they pass the state bar test and begin appearing in court to practice law.