Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney

The terms “lawyer” and “attorney” are often used interchangeably. Although both lawyer and attorney refer to someone educated in the field of law, there are historical differences between lawyers and attorneys. 

A lawyer was a person who was educated and trained in the practice of law. Lawyers graduated from a law school but did not necessarily use their law degree to practice in court. An attorney was a person who was educated in the law and was also licensed to practice law in a courtroom. 

Lawyers chose to use their education for other roles, such as legal consultants or advisors. Attorneys practiced law in courtrooms. Attorneys were required to pass their state bar exam before they practiced law in their chosen jurisdiction. Attorneys practiced in civil courts, criminal courts, or both. 

Law Terms Similar to Attorney and Lawyer

Other words may be used to refer to those in the legal profession who are similar to attorneys and lawyers. Solicitor, barrister, advocate, and counsel all have to do with the legal profession, but there are some key distinctions between the terms:

  • Solicitor: specifically refers to legal professionals in the United Kingdom. A solicitor practices law in an organizational setting. Solicitors often see clients day-to-day. Solicitors are sometimes required to appear before the court. 
  • Barrister: refers to a legal practitioner in the UK. Barristers primarily focus on representing their clients in a courtroom setting. 
  • Advocate: the word advocate is often used in combination with attorney or lawyer. The word bears no specific legal difference between the two.
  • Counsel: legal counsel is the term used to describe a person who provides clients with legal advice. The word counsel is used hand-in-hand with attorney or lawyer. Still, it generally refers to a person who is educated in law or who provides in-house representation for a group, corporation, or organization. 

Lawyers, counsels, and attorneys are similar in that they have all received legal education and are trained in the area of law. Attorneys have to pass their state’s bar exam and represent clients in a courtroom. Counsels give clients legal guidance. Many counselors work for a company or organization. 

What Does “J.D.” Mean?

The title “J.D.” refers to any person that has graduated from law school. The letters “J.D.” stand for Juris Doctor. A J.D. shows that a person has finished law school and obtained their Juris Doctor degree. 

What Are Some of the Most Common Fields of Specialization for West Chester Lawyers and Attorneys?

Both lawyers and attorneys in West Chester may choose to specialize in an area of law. Both lawyers and attorneys can provide legal guidance and support in their areas of specialization. 

Some of the most common fields include:

  • Real estate law
  • Family law
  • General law
  • Tax law
  • Criminal law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Corporate and business law
  • Bankruptcy law
  • Civil rights law
  • Environmental law
  • Immigration law
  • Labor and employment law
  • Personal injury law

Lawyers and attorneys typically go through additional training and education in their area of focus to gain more experience and knowledge. Attorneys typically consult with and provide services to clients whose legal needs pertain to their field of law. 

How Can I Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in West Chester?

Now that you know the difference between an attorney and a lawyer, you may wonder where to find a lawyer. The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania maintains an attorney directory. This directory allows you to check an attorney’s discipline history, license to practice law, and more. 
You can consult ratings and review sites like Google My Business, Avvo, or Martindale-Hubbell to check an attorney’s client reviews and peer ratings.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm in West Chester, PA

If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA criminal defense lawyers at DiCindioLaw, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.

DiCindio Law, LLC

29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 430-3535