student asking question

How's "lawyer" different from "attorney"? I'm not sure which one to use in certain context!


Native speaker’s answer


Great question. "Lawyer" is a general term for a person who gives legal advice and aid. Technically, anyone who has graduated from law school can be regarded as a "lawyer". However, some "lawyers" may not practice the law in court or keep a long list of clients but they are still "lawyers". For example, after graduating from law school, a "lawyer" may become a government advisor or a company consultant. They would still be a "lawyer" even though they never go to court. The term "attorney" is actually short for attorney-at-law. It refers a member of the legal profession who represents a client in court when pleading or defending a case. A "lawyer" can be called an "attorney" if he takes on a client and then represents and acts on this person’s interest. Most legal practitioners prefer the term “attorney” since it has a more professional and dignified connotation than a “lawyer.” Ex: Every defendant deserves a good attorney. Ex: I work as a lawyer at an IT company.

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