What's the difference between a lawyer and an attorney

Attorney and Lawyer – Definitions and Differences

I often get asked the questions what’s the difference between a lawyer and an attorney.  This is a good question because a lot of people get the two terms confused or don’t quite know that there is a difference between the two terms. These words often get used interchangeably so it’s no wonder that this is confusing to a lot of people. At first it may seem like no big deal when using the two words interchangeably but sometimes it can make a huge difference like the case of a Texas paralegal who was arrested for representing a client when he was in fact not licensed to do so!

The simple answer to this question is that a lawyer is someone who is trained in law. So in essence even a paralegal can be considered a lawyer. The difference is that an attorney is licensed to practice law and represent clients. An attorney has to pass the state bar exam in order to legally practice law. So in essence all attorneys are lawyers but all lawyers are not attorneys.

Another important term to note is the word Esquire. Esquire or ESQ is a title bestowed upon attorneys. It’s like having a PhD in law. The problem is that in the UK ESQ doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an attorney. ESQ is a title used to show a higher level of education. Let’s not even get started with the fact that in the UK attorneys are called solicitors!

To sum it all up it really doesn’t matter to much if you know the difference between a lawyer and an attorney, but what you should always look into is if the person you’re hiring to represent you is a registered, currently active member of your state bar.