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The Main Differences: Criminal Defense Attorney vs Lawyer

Going to court is scary. You’re not sure what the outcome will be, what the jury will think, and if you’ll walk out a free person. Fortunately, there are professionals with keen knowledge of the law who will represent you.

Whether or not you’re at fault, everyone should be supported by a legal professional. These professionals are lawyers, but people often mistake them for an ‘attorney.’ Before you go to court, you should understand the difference.

Before you contact a lawyer or an attorney, understand how each will represent you. Continue reading to understand the difference between an attorney vs lawyer.

Lawyer

A lawyer is someone who practices the law. Think of the term ‘lawyer’ and take out the ‘law’ portion. Lawyers are the ones you see in movies — standing up in court, supporting either the plaintiff or the defendant.

But lawyers do more than fight for you in court. They offer transparency when discussing your case and they can give you legal advice.

The Duties of a Lawyer

Lawyers hold more lawful obligation. They’re thoroughly trained in law and how to give legal advice. Because of this, they have a strict code of ethics.

Lawyers can decide to specialize in a certain field or hold a specific position. Lawyers can also choose to hold various roles.

In court, a lawyer can act as a superior or as support. In these roles, the lawyer defends the client by providing evidence to benefit the client in their case.

Depending on the case, the lawyer will debate and fight for their client’s freedom. These lawyers are also called a barrister.

Throughout the case, the lawyer can act as an adviser. This is when the lawyer guides, counsels and instructs their client on the legal issues surrounding their case.

These lawyers, also called solicitors, cannot help you in court unless your case goes to a lower court.

Lawyers can also take on additional roles, such as trial works. These lawyers conduct research, interview clients, interview witnesses, and gather additional details to use in court.

Different Fields

In the modern day, lawyers have private practices and open up their services to a myriad of different cases. These cases generally surround criminals or those who charge others with a crime.

But there are still lawyers who specialize in certain fields and roles. These include:

  • Environmental Lawyer –a lawyer who specializes in cases such as clean technology, water law, climate change law, and public land.
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer — a lawyer who protects inventions, trade secrets, and product names.
  • Civil Law Lawyer — a lawyer who helps their clients with wills, trusts, and contracts.
  • Nonprofit Lawyer — a lawyer who supports and advocates nonprofit organizations.
  • Criminal Defense Lawyer — a lawyer who defends clients who are accused of a crime, such as Criminal Solicitors.

When to Hire a Lawyer

While not required in court, hiring a lawyer is highly recommended. You’ll want to hire a lawyer when:

  • You’re in a position where legal representation is necessary
  • You could go to jail
  • You could lose money
  • Your opponent has a lawyer
  • Your case involves injury
  • You’re going through a difficult divorce
  • You’re administering the estate of a deceased person
  • You’re conducting estate planning
  • You’re adopting a child
  • You have to negotiate a difficult contract
  • Any complex business matter

These are all broad reasons, and in some of these cases, self-representation can work. If you find a lawyer who offers a free consultation, it’s worth seeking their advice.

Attorney

An attorney is someone who conducts business for someone else. In some cases, an attorney is almost similar to a lawyer in an attorney vs lawyer argument. That’s because an attorney can represent you in court.

This is why you hear terms such as ‘attorneys-at-law’ (an attorney who can represent their clients in court) and ‘power of attorney’ (a document stating the power the attorney has over a business).

But there’s a difference between a lawyer and an attorney. An attorney regularly conducts business with an individual or an establishment. This is why attorneys are also referred as an ‘agent.’

An attorney can’t provide court services unless they’re an ‘attorney at law.’ To establish this title, an attorney needs to have the same qualifications as a lawyer.

The Duties of an Attorney

An attorney, especially an attorney-at-law, works similarly to a lawyer. This is why it’s hard to differentiate an attorney vs lawyer.

These include resolving cases, working to save clients’ money in court, act as advisors for clients, prepare pleadings and other legal documents, prepare contracts, and prosecute cases.

The main difference between an attorney and a lawyer is an attorney’s relationship with the client. This relationship is stated in the power of attorney document.

Because the attorney’s duties are limited to this document, an attorney can take on many roles. They can simply sign off on loan or can support their client when their client is sued in court.

The main difference between an attorney and a lawyer is an attorney’s duties aren’t subjected to court.

A business may hire an attorney to handle their legal documents or an individual may hire an attorney to supervise the purchase of an estate.

Different Fields

Like a lawyer, an attorney can choose to stay broad or specialize in different fields and positions. For specialized cases, it’s hard to decide between an attorney vs lawyer.

An attorney can share certain field similarities with lawyers, such as civil law. But since attorneys act as agents, they’re open to a variety of other positions. These include:

  • Corporate and Securities Attorney
  • Education Attorney
  • Employment or Labor Attorney
  • Family and Juvenile Attorney
  • Health Attorney
  • Immigration Attorney
  • International Attorney
  • Real Estate Attorney
  • Sports and Entertainment Attorney
  • Tax Attorney

These specialties can be given to a lawyer, but an attorney acts as an agent for these fields and organizations.

Now You Know the Different Between an Attorney Vs Lawyer

Attorneys and lawyers are extremely similar law professionals, so it’s common to mix up these titles.

But there are slight differences between the two. A lawyer practices the law, assisting clients in court. An attorney is an agent of the law, assisting their clients with various legal processes in and out of court.

Are you a lawyer or attorney? Look at our services and post a directory listing.

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