Lawyer vs. Attorney – Is There a Difference?

The words lawyer and attorney are used interchangeably on a regular basis. Have you ever paused to wonder why the two separate words exist? Is there a difference? If so, when seeking legal help should you consult a lawyer or attorney?

These are all good questions that we are going to address here. 

Is There a Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

Both words are used to describe someone who is licensed to practice law and provide legal advice to their clients, but technically, yes, there is a difference between the two. 

To the average person, the difference is slim and you can use the two interchangeably without offending anyone, but let’s take a look at the distinctions.

What is a Lawyer?

A lawyer is trained in the law and has obtained the required education to practice law, but does not necessarily represent clients in court. The term itself has Middle English origins. Lawyers provide legal advice to clients and can assist them with the preparation of legal documents. The education required for an individual to become a lawyer includes an undergraduate degree along with the completion of law school and passage of the state’s written bar exam in each state where the professional wishes to practice law.

What is an Attorney?

The term attorney is short for attorney-at-law, which has French origins stemming from a word that means to act on behalf of others. Like lawyers, attorneys must attend law school, obtain a law degree, and pass the written bar exam to practice. However, unlike lawyers, attorneys often represent their clients in court.

With that said, all attorneys in the US are lawyers but not all lawyers are attorneys. 

When Does This Matter?

There are times when you would want to be sure you are meeting with an attorney who is able and willing to handle every aspect of your claim, including any litigation. If your claim is likely to go to court, you will need an attorney to represent you. 

Rhys Richards is an Attorney in Hamilton, Ohio meaning he has the qualifications and experience of representing clients in court and is prepared to handle all your personal injury needs. 

The Richards Firm is your local bicycle accident, motor vehicle accident, motorcycle accident, and truck accident attorney. We also handle wrongful deaths, premises, product liability cases, dog bites and attacks, and nursing home negligence matters.

We can be reached at 513-868-2731, ext. 219 or visit us at  

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