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Attorney vs Lawyer: What is The Difference?

Contrary to popular belief, attorney and lawyer are not the same and interchangeable words in terms of their definitions and duties.


Contrary to popular belief, attorney and lawyer are not the same and interchangeable words in terms of their definitions and duties. Most people don’t even really pay attention because we automatically have an understanding that they are the same and that’s not necessarily true so understanding this little subtle difference can help many people.  So Attorney vs Lawyer: What is The Difference?

Attorney defination, in French origin, is someone who is legally appointed to transact business on behalf of someone else. Lawyer defination is different from the definition of attorney and is expressed as a person who is trained in the field of law and provides aid and advice on legal matters. If we actually do a little bit of more of investigation, we have can have better clarity and understanding the differences between the two.

What is the Difference of Attorney and Lawyer?

After their definition, let’s examine in detail what is the difference of attorney and lawyer.

Attorney is someone who’s passed the bar exam and therefore they can represent you in court while a lawyer is someone that can give you legal advice on matters but since they have not passed the bar exam they therefore cannot represent you in court. So, at this point, we can say that there is a difference between lawyers and attorneys in terms of practicing law.

Anyone who graduates from law school can be called a lawyer, but not an attorney. As it is understood from here, every attorney is a lawyer, but not every lawyer is an attorney.

An attorney also has the additional duties of interpreting federal and state laws, keeping careful records outlining their interactions with clients and other legal professionals, and applying legal knowledge to meet their clients’ needs, which a lawyer does not have.

A lawyer can also help strengthen cases handled by another attorney without the need to argue the case in court.

If you are planning to enter into a prenuptial agreement, if you need important tax advice, if you want guidance on establishing and maintaining a company properly, if you want your intellectual property to be protected by copyright, trademark or patent, you need a lawyer, not an attorney. If you want to contest or defend an immigration matter, if you are suing or being sued for medical malpractice, if you need representation against the IRS, if you are involved in a criminal or civil action pending in court, you may want to hire an attorney.

The term “attorney” is preferred by most lawyers because it has a more professional and respectable connotation than the term “lawyer”.

Attorney has sub-titles such as attorney at law and attorney in fact, which have different duties and definitions, unlike lawyers.

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Attorney at Law

As we try to explain the diffrence Attorney vs Lawyer, some lawyers use the term “attorney at law,” you may have the question of whether there is an attorney in another field. Historically, attorneys served in the two branches of the court system, the courts of law and the courts of equality. Attorneys who acted in equity courts were called “attorney at equity”, while those who served party’s attorney in the courts of law, were called “attorneys at law”.

Attorney-at-law is the official name of a lawyer. The first known use of this word, often abbreviated to attorney, was in 1768. The origin of the word comes from the verb to delegate, which means to transfer one’s rights and obligations to another.

Attorneys at law are legally qualified to defend and prosecute cases before a court and this term is used as the opposite of “attorney-in-fact”.

What is Attorney in Fact?

In some situations, an attorney may be an “attorney-in-fact. This person has the authority to act on behalf of another person, and this authority is a temporary assignment protected under a Power of Attorney or Special Power of Attorney. They are not attorney-at-law, so they are not obligated to enforce the law.

In order to become someone’s attorney in fact, the signature of the person who wants to give a power of attorney is needed. Thus, attorney can fulfill the responsibilities and use the powers specifically specified in the power of attorney for the person. The person who gives power of attorney is called the “principal”, not the client. The power of attorney, which allows the attorney to carry out all business and sign documents on behalf of the person, is the general power of attorney. The second type of power of attorney is the special power of attorney, which allows it to do business and sign documents on behalf of another person only in certain circumstances. An attorney in fact can only act while the principal is alive, and when the principal dies, all power is gone.

We gave you infos about Attorney vs Lawyer.

Also You Can Read

  • What Are The Types of Lawyers?” click here to read

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