Kibbey Wagner, PLLC | October 3, 2022 | Florida Law
Many people use the words “lawyer” and “attorney” interchangeably, but there are actually several crucial differences between the two.
What Is a Lawyer?
A lawyer is a legal professional that’s graduated from law school and holds a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree but may not have yet passed the bar exam. As such, lawyers cannot formally practice law or represent clients in court. The bar exam is the final step to being allowed to practice law and advocate for clients in a court of law.
As they haven’t passed the bar, lawyers are permitted to provide legal information but cannot interpret that information for their clients. This is why many lawyers often work for licensed attorneys at law firms. On that note, it’s important to remember that practicing the law without proper accreditation is a crime and could result in serious charges.
What Is an Attorney?
“Attorney” is an abbreviation of “attorney at law,” a designation reserved for someone who has graduated from law school, passed their state’s bar exam, and joined the State Bar Association in whatever state they’re practicing law in. In short, an attorney is fully licensed to practice in a court of law.
This license enables an attorney to provide legal representation for clients at trial. As such, they play a pivotal role in the way laws are interpreted and applied, making them an indispensable asset for individuals and business entities alike.
Types of Attorneys
There are several different types of attorneys. Each type is oriented toward a particular area of the law. Some examples include business attorneys, bankruptcy attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, and entertainment attorneys.
Business attorneys provide legal information to businesses to ensure they’re in compliance with existing laws. This includes providing advice on mergers, acquisitions, dissolutions, patents, and various disputes. Similarly, bankruptcy attorneys have a working knowledge of the United States’s Bankruptcy Codes and can help individuals and businesses with issues related to consumer and commercial bankruptcy.
Criminal defense attorneys provide advice to individuals who have been charged with crimes. Some criminal defense attorneys specialize only in state law, while others can also represent clients in federal courts of law.
Entertainment lawyers work with public figures, including artists, musicians, athletes, directors, and others. Much of their work relates to intellectual property, though they can also provide advice on contracts, fee negotiations, releases, and intermediary relations between talent and venues.
Much like criminal defense attorneys, those looking to specialize in entertainment law can take a customized curriculum offered by their state bar association.
You’ve probably heard the term “attorney-client privilege” before. It refers to the legally-protected confidentiality between an attorney and their client.
For example, if the court demands records of a client’s communications, their correspondence with their attorney is usually protected under attorney-client privilege and, therefore, wouldn’t be admissible in court.
When attorneys do legal work for clients, they bill them for attorney fees. These can be assessed in terms of an hourly fee, flat rate, or on contingency. They’re often set as an agreement between the attorney and their client but can also be determined by specific statutes.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help After an Accident
While a lawyer may be able to provide useful insight to help you after a personal injury accident such as a car accident, an attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and bring your case to court. A skilled attorney can help you obtain the compensation you need.