Skip to main content

Is there a difference between a lawyer and an attorney?

San Francisco, CA |

Are they similar, but different at the same time (if so, how), or are they just terms that are used interchangeably to describe the same profession?

Oh, okay. Is one more formal than the other? For instance, is attorney to police officer as lawyer is to cop (I'm referring to terms not actual people)?

Attorney Answers 8


  1. Best answer

    No difference, not even in usage. Neither one is considered more formal than the other, at least as far as I know.
    In the United Kingdom and other countries - Canada for one - there are different names for attorneys. In the U.K. attorneys are either solicitors or barristers. I am not entirely sure on the difference, but solicitors would be similar to what most people in the U.S. think of as an attorney, and a barrister is generally hired by a solicitor to appear in court cases.


  2. From a practical standpoint, no, there is no difference. They are interchangeable terms.

    Legal disclaimer: Please be advised that the advice provided does not create any attorney/client relationship; that due to the various state laws that the information provided is a general overview of the law, which might not be applicable to you, based upon the laws of your state. We will not file anything on your behalf nor protect any statute of limitations which might arise and recommend that you IMMEDIATELY consult legal counsel for adviceThis response does not constitute or make an attorney-client relationship as it is made for general purposes; answering attorney does not possess enough information to inform recipient of the applicable statute of limitations. You may also contact Mr. Hiden at (619) 296-5884 or by email at "dhiden@hrollp.com"


  3. There is no difference - two terms for the same occupation.


  4. NO DIFFERENCE.

    BEST ANSWER I got.... and I HOPE I WAS HELPFUL!! Steve Hamer answers questions on Avvo for general information and not as legal advice. Those answers do not establish an attorney/client relationship. If you would like my help, contact Mr. Hamer at (214) 843-1529 for a FREE CONSULTATION.


  5. They are often used interchangeably and sometimes in one sentence.

    Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The response herein is general legal and business analysis.. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather it is analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


  6. Technically no as per my colleagues -- however, I think the two terms get used differently when being attached to certain choice expletives in describing our profession at times! LOL.

    My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a licensed attorney in your State should be obtained.


  7. Same-same.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.


  8. There actually is a slight difference between the terms "lawyer" and "attorney," although such distinctions are small and not commonly understood by the public, by lawyers or by attorneys. Generally speaking, a "lawyer" is any person with a juris doctor degree (a "law degree"), whether or not that person is actively engaged in the practice of law. For example, a person who graduated from law school, never passed the bar exam, and has become a full-time high school teacher is a lawyer, but is not an attorney.
    An attorney is a lawyer who is licensed to practice law and who actually handles legal matters on behalf of clients. Therefore, not all lawyers are attorneys.
    Furthermore, a "litigator" is an attorney who actually handles legal proceedings on behalf of clients in a court of law, as compared to transactional legal services (like drafting contracts) that do not require an appearance in the courrhouse. Not all attorneys are litigators.
    But these are highly technical distinctions, so all the previous answers are also correct in saying there is no substantial difference between "lawyer" and "attorney" and that those words are almost always used to mean the same thing.