In the United States, the terms lawyer and attorney are seemingly interchangeable though they do not hold the same meaning in a court of law. The qualification differences between a lawyer and an attorney are what make each title unique. Let us now delve further into these differences and the importance of using a licensed attorney.
A lawyer is an individual who has a bachelor’s degree, has attended and completed law school with a Juris Doctor degree, and is allowed to offer legal information. A JD law graduate can take on many professions with this degree, but lawyers are not sanctioned to practice law or provide legal advice until they obtain the license to practice.
A JD lawyer can exercise the following professions: politics, judge’s associate, accounting, management consulting, and journalism.
Furthermore, Lawyers who have passed the bar exam often take roles as advisors or consultants, choosing to specialize in a certain field such as tax law, estate law, or immigration law, giving legal advice to clients.
In addition to receiving a JD law degree from an accredited American Bar Association school, all attorneys are lawyers and must also pass the state bar exam in the jurisdiction of where they plan to practice law.
The bar exam is a rigorous examination of logistical competence, moral character, and a test of the lawyer’s deep understanding of the law, approximately 18 hours, which can take a few days to complete. In the first part of the Bar Exam, students usually get tested over 200 questions in six law areas: the Multistate Bar Examination. The last part of the exam involves essays and presents applicants with the Multistate Performance Test and the Multistate Essay Examination.
This exam, among other specific state directives, is required for a lawyer to become a licensed attorney. Attorneys practice law in court.
Choosing to hire a licensed attorney in Pasadena, California has many advantages.
They can offer you legal advice directly concerning your situation, whereas a lawyer can only provide you with legal information without guidance on how to use it.
They provide specific and personalized care because a personal injury attorney specializes in medical malpractice, accidents, or claims against pharmaceutical companies, which a lawyer is not proficient in and has no jurisdiction over.
They can represent and aid you in a courtroom. The advocate must be licensed by ABA to represent a client in the courtroom, argue motions, select jurors, or meet judges. Therefore, lawyers that do not actively practice law cannot serve as courtroom aid.
They can do “leg work” for you by interviewing witnesses, taking depositions, and reviewing files, while if lawyers did the same, it would be classified as a UPL (unauthorized practice of law), which constitutes a criminal act.
They can interpret how certain information would apply to a particular problem, including statutes, regulations, or court opinions. An attorney is authorized to identify and find applicable laws to the facts of your case.
Some unauthorized practices of law by JD or someone else in California (UPL):
- Immigration consultants or legal document preparers provide legal advice or tell you how to use the forms they printed out for you to complete and translate.
- Attorneys practicing law or giving legal advice while their license is suspended.
- A law student graduate studying in California agrees to help a friend who is starting a company to help draft legal company documents in exchange for free boarding.
- A legal document assistant in California contains a caveat, which means they cannot practice law yet.
Some useful and important law terms commonly used:
- Advocate: in the United States, an advocate is frequently used as a synonym for an attorney or a lawyer.
- Attorney: a licensed court practitioner who prosecutes or defends individuals.
- Counsel: a general term for someone who renders legal advice and often works for a corporation or organization.
- Esquire: a term used to refer to someone who has completed law school and passed the bar exam.
- Juris Doctor (J.D.): a person who has completed law school but has not yet passed the bar exam.
The personal injury attorneys at our Pasadena law firm are here to provide you with legal guidance, counsel, and representation if necessary. At Grigoryan Blum & Grigoryan, we are driven to get you the compensation you deserve and see that justice is served.
Click here for our complete guide to hiring a personal injury lawyer.