ATTORNEY-vs-LAWYER United States

“Attorney” vs. “Lawyer”: What’s The Difference?

Lawyer is a general term for a person who gives legal advice and aid and who conducts suits in court.

The terms attorney and lawyer are often used interchangeably in the United States. There is very little distinction made between the two. This difficulty to differentiate is a result of the fact that in the United States, unlike in other countries, this distinction is not made. However, a slight one does exist.

What Qualifies Someone as a Lawyer?

A lawyer is someone who is learned and trained in law. Yet, they may not actually practice law. They often give legal advice. By attending law school in the United States, one can be considered a lawyer. A student of law must pass the bar exam in their particular jurisdiction in order to practice law by providing legal representation. Otherwise, the opportunities to use their law education are limited. There are many different types of lawyers with many different specializations within the industry.

What’s the difference between lawyer and attorney?

An attorney or, more correctly, an attorney-at-law, is a member of the legal profession who represents a client in court when pleading or defending a case. In the US, attorney applies to any lawyer. The word attorney comes from French meaning ‘one appointed or constituted’ and the word’s original meaning is of a person acting for another as an agent or deputy.

Barristers vs. solicitors

In the UK, those who practice law are divided into barristers, who represent clients in open court and may appear at the bar, and solicitors, who are permitted to conduct litigation in court but not to plead cases in open court. The barrister does not deal directly with clients but does so through a solicitor.

What’s a counsel?

A solicitor would be the UK equivalent of the US attorney-at-law. Counsel usually refers to a body of legal advisers but also pertains to a single legal adviser and is a synonym for advocate, barrister, counselor, and counselor-at-law.

As to the abbreviation ‘Esq.’ for ‘Esquire’ used by some lawyers, it has no precise significance in the United States except as sometimes applied to certain public officials, such as justices of the peace. For some reason, lawyers often add it to their surname in written address. However, it is a title that is specifically male with no female equivalent, so its use by lawyers should fade away.

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What is the Difference Between a Lawyer and Attorney in Pennsylvania?

If you search for a personal injury attorney online, you may see results for attorneys and lawyers. That is because most people use the terms lawyer and attorney interchangeably. However, there is a difference in the definition of lawyer and attorney.

A lawyer is an individual who has earned a law degree or Juris Doctor (JD) from a law school. The person is educated in the law, but is not licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania or another state.

An attorney is an individual who has a law degree and has been admitted to practice law in one or more states. The person has passed the bar examination or been admitted through a non-bar exam application. An attorney can give legal advice and represent clients in court.

Attorneys are advocates for their clients. The attorney’s duty is to protect the client’s best interest. In some cases, that might include telling a client something the client is not happy to hear, but needs to hear to protect the client’s best interest.

Licensing Requirements for Attorneys in Pennsylvania

Most attorneys are admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania by completing the bar examination. Pennsylvania also has a character and fitness requirement. Attorneys who display a deficiency in diligence, honesty, reliability, or trustworthiness may not be admitted to the bar.

Lawyers who want to take the bar examination must have a degree from an accredited law school. The Bar Admission Rules define “accredited law school” as a school approved by the American Bar Association.

Most bar examinations include a Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) that covers various topics such as civil procedure, constitutional law, evidence, criminal procedure, contracts, torts, and real property. The Pennsylvania Bar Examination has an essay portion that covers all of the MBE topics. The essay portion also covers wills, trusts, estates, family law, employment discrimination, and other topics.

Some lawyers may be admitted to practice in Pennsylvania without taking the bar examination. For example, an attorney licensed to practice law in a state that has a reciprocity agreement with Pennsylvania may be admitted to the bar without taking the bar examination. The attorney must meet certain requirements, such as providing a certificate of good standing from the state the attorney is admitted to practice and has obtained a degree from an accredited law school.

Lawyers may also be admitted to practice under special circumstances by filing a motion with the court or through other non-bar exam applications. Lawyers who are admitted to practice in another state, who are working with an attorney admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, or who are working as in-house counsel may want to research options for admission without taking the bar exam.

What If You Practice Law Without a License?

Individuals who practice law without a license are subject to criminal charges. A charge for the unauthorized practice of law in Pennsylvania is a misdemeanor of the third degree. Second and subsequent offenses constitute a misdemeanor of the first degree.

How to Choose the Right Attorney for Your Case

When you search for an attorney to represent you regarding an injury claim, you want an attorney who has experience handling cases like your case. Just because an attorney is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania doesn’t mean they can successfully represent you in any type of injury case.

For instance, if you were injured at work, you want to hire an attorney who handles workers’ compensation claims. However, if your injury is from a commercial truck accident, you want to search for an experienced truck accident lawyer.

Most attorneys will offer a free initial consultation. You should take advantage of this free consultation to evaluate whether the attorney is a good fit for you and your needs.

Some of the questions you want to ask an attorney during your consultation include:

  • How much experience do you have handling cases like my case?
  • What is your success rate?
  • How often do you take cases to trial versus settling cases?
  • Who can I expect to work with during my case? Will you handle my case or will a paralegal handle my case?
  • Do you accept cases on a contingency fee basis? What costs am I expected to pay in addition to attorneys’ fees?
  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • What resources and tools do your law firm have to help me with my injury claim?

Searching for an attorney can be frustrating. You may need to meet with more than one attorney to find the one that is right for you. You want to feel comfortable with the attorney.

If you feel as if your questions are not answered fully or the attorney is rushing through the consultation, you may want to continue searching for a personal injury attorney. Since most attorneys offer free consultations, you can meet with several attorneys before deciding which law firm meets your needs and expectations.

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United States Attorney General

The United States attorney general is the head of the U.S. Department of Justice. The position requires a presidential nomination and subsequent confirmation by the United States Senate.

Current attorney general

The office of the attorney general is current vacant. It was last occupied by Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen resigned on January 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden (D) was inaugurated.[1]

List of U.S. attorneys general

Attorney General Years of service
Jeffrey Rosen 2020-2021
William Pelham Barr 2019-2020
Jeff Sessions 2017-2018
Loretta Lynch 2015-2017
Eric Holder 2009-2015
Michael B. Mukasey 2007-2009
Alberto R. Gonzales 2005-2007
John David Ashcroft 2001-2005
Janet Reno 1993-2001
William Pelham Barr 1991-1993
Richard Lewis Thornburgh 1988-1991
Edwin Meese, III 1985-1988
William French Smith 1981-1985
Benjamin Richard Civiletti 1979-1981
Griffin Boyette Bell 1977-1979
Edward Hirsch Levi 1975-1977
William Bart Saxbe 1974-1975
Elliot Lee Richardson 1973
Richard Gordon Kleindienst 1972-1973
John Newton Mitchell 1969-1972
William Ramsey Clark 1967-1969
Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach 1965-1966
Robert Francis Kennedy 1961-1964
William Pierce Rogers 1957-1961
Herbert Brownell, Jr. 1953-1957
James Patrick McGranery 1952-1953
James Howard McGrath 1949-1952
Thomas Campbell Clark 1945-1949
Francis Beverly Biddle 1941-1945
Robert Houghwout Jackson 1940-1941
Frank Murphy 1939-1940
Homer Stille Cummings 1933-1939
William Dewitt Mitchell 1929-1933
John Garibaldi Sargent 1925-1929
Harlan Fiske Stone 1924-1925
Harry Micajah Daugherty 1921-1924
Alexander Mitchell Palmer 1919-1921
Thomas Watt Gregory 1914-1919
James Clark McReyonds 1913-1914
George Woodward Wichersham 1909-1913
Charles Joseph Bonaparte 1906-1909
William Henry Moody 1904-1906
Philander Chase Knox 1901-1904
John William Griggs 1898-1901
Joseph McKenna 1897-1898
Judson Harmon 1895-1897
Richard Olney 1893-1895
William Henry Harrison Miller 1889-1893
Augustus Hill Garland 1885-1889
Benjamin Harris Brewster 1881-1885
Isaac Wayne MacVeagh 1881
Charles Devens 1877-1881
Alphonso Taft 1876-1877
Edwards Pierrepont 1875-1876
George Henry Williams 1871-1875
Amos Tappan Akerman 1870-1871
Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar 1869-1870
William Maxwell Evarts 1868-1869
Henry Stanbery 1866-1868
James Speed 1864-1866
Edward Bates 1861-1864
Edwin McMasters Stanton 1860-1861
Jeremiah Sullivan Black 1857-1860
Caleb Cushing 1853-1857
John Jordan Crittenden 1850-1853
Reverdy Johnson 1849-1850
Isaac Toucey 1848-1849
Nathan Clifford 1846-1848
John Young Mason 1845-1846
John Nelson 1843-1845
Hugh Swinton Legare 1841-1843
John Jordan Crittenden 1841
Henry Dilworth Gilpin 1840-1841
Felix Grundy 1838-1839
Benjamin Franklin Butler 1833-1838
Roger Brooke Taney 1831-1833
John Macpherson Berrien 1829-1831
William Wirt 1817-1829
Richard Rush 1814-1817
William Pinkney 1811-1814
Caesar Augustus Rodney 1807-1811
John Breckinridge 1805-1806
Levi Lincoln 1801-1805
Charles Lee 1795-1801
William Bradford 1794-1795
Edmund Jennings Randolph 1789-1794

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