What is the difference between Attorney & Lawyer

Attorneys and lawyers are two positions that people often think of as interchangeable. Though they share several similar qualities and responsibilities, the two roles are distinct and help clients in different ways. Learning the difference between the roles can help you decide which you might pursue with your injury or accident needs. Let’s look at some key details about these two roles and examine the ways the two differ.

What is an Attorney?

Dictionary definition of Attorney
Attorney by houstondwiPhotos mp is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

An attorney is a law professional who has earned a degree in the field, holds a Juris Doctor degree, and has passed the bar exam. They often represent their clients in court, research information for cases, and interpret laws. Though they passed the bar exam for their state, attorneys can practice in several locations.

What’s a Lawyer?

A lawyer is a professional like an attorney who earned a degree from law school but has yet to pass the bar exam. Rather than representing their clients in court, lawyers provide legal counsel to people who need it, advising how they might handle their unique situations. Lawyers may specialize in specific legal matters or work in areas like government, where they can advise organizations on best legal practices.

5 Key Differences Between Attorneys and Lawyers

Though there are many similar qualities between these two roles, there are also several key differences. Here are some of the ways the two legal professions differ:


One of the main differences between the two roles is the licensing requirements to work in each. A lawyer only needs to have a degree from an accredited law school to start practicing with clients. An attorney also needs this degree but must pass the bar examination before advocating for clients. While attorneys most commonly have Juris Doctor degrees, lawyers might also earn a Master of Laws degree, depending on what work they hope to do.


The role of each of these careers can vary greatly as they perform different duties for their clients. Lawyers typically meet with their clients, advise on legal matters, write contracts, and perform other tasks to assist their clients through legal matters. While attorneys may do this too, they also advocate for their clients. This is most clearly seen in court settings when attorneys represent their clients to a judge.


Both attorneys and lawyers may specialize in a certain area of law, like international law, finance law, or family law. Lawyers might support the more general needs of their clients and work across several areas of specialization. Attorneys commonly only work in their one specialization.

Work environment

The work environment for both roles is similar, as they might spend most of their hours in an office setting. This involves meeting with their clients, handling paperwork, and researching laws and cases for their clients. Since attorneys represent clients in court, they could spend a day or several days a month in a court setting also.


There are several different times when you might choose a lawyer or an attorney. With lawyers, you might need legal guidance to help resolve issues with another person, institution, or other parties. They can help provide resources that can clarify your issue and provide options for how you might proceed. This might mean calling a lawyer might help if you might lose money or you have an injury.

You can pursue attorneys for similar reasons, but it might be best to select one if you need representation in court. This can be extremely important if you’re facing criminal charges or if the other party has legal representation, as they can bring the expertise and tools needed to help you resolve your issues.

Similar Legal Roles

Along with a lawyer and an attorney, there are several other key legal professionals who can help you with your various legal needs. These professionals often work in similar settings and support clients, lawyers, attorneys, and other legal workers to help resolve cases and uphold the law.

Legal Officer

Legal officers are professionals who oversee the legalities within an organization. They often provide legal guidance and research laws to ensure companies and other facilities comply with local and national laws. When identifying risks, they help companies create mitigation plans to stay in compliance.


Arbitrators are professionals who help resolve issues outside of court. They often meet with several parties in a dispute, hear each side, and determine terms that the parties can agree to. This often involves negotiations and creating contracts for parties to sign to ensure everyone agrees.


Paralegals are law professionals that often work in law offices and support lawyers and other professionals. They might interview clients, conduct research, and handle case paperwork for their clients. If working with contracts, they might also draft or edit materials for lawyers or clients to review and approve.

How To Find the Right Attorney

Finding the right attorney for your case can be crucial in getting the compensation or resolution you desire. It can help to research local attorneys and understand their specializations. For example, you might find several attorneys that specialize in finance, though you may want a more specific focus like estate planning or corporate finance. Learning more details about the cases they handle can help get you a more qualified attorney.

You can also meet with potential attorneys to better understand the cases they’ve handled to see if it’s a good fit. You can ask about their success rate, fees, and the resources they plan to use to help you resolve your issues.

Now that you know the difference between attorneys and lawyers, you can be prepared when searching for help to resolve your legal matters. If you need assistance with any cases related to personal injuries or property damage in accidents and similar cases, you can contact our legal professionals at De Castroverde to help. While you’re on the website, you can learn more about our personal injury attorneys to see if they’re right for your case.