Wednesday, September 01, 2004

LAWYER VS. ATTORNEY - Which do you use?

Today, on my favorite ListServ, there was banter about the usage of "lawyer" versus "attorney." The answer was as follows:

According to the Associated Press Stylebook (which journalists and PR professionals defer to when making copy decisions):

attorney, lawyer entry:
"In common usage the words are interchangeable. Technically, however, an attorney is someone (usually, but not necessarily, a lawyer) empowered to act for another. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney in fact. A lawyer is a person admitted to practice in a court system. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney at law."

lawyer entry:
"A generic term for all members of the bar. An attorney is someone legally appointed or empowered to act for another, usually, but not always, a lawyer. An attorney at law is a lawyer. A barrister is an English lawyer who is specially trained and appears exclusively as a trial lawyer in higher courts. He is retained by a solicitor, not directly by the client. There is no equivalent term in the United States. Counselor, when used in a legal sense, means a person who conducts a case in court, usually, but not always, a lawyer. A counselor at law is a lawyer. Counsel frequently is used collectively for a group of counselors. A solicitor in England is a lawyer who performs legal services for the public. A solicitor appears in lower courts but does not have the right to appear in higher courts, which are reserved to barristers. A solicitor in the United States is a lawyer employed by a governmental body. Solicitor is generally a job description, but in some agencies it is a formal title. Solicitor general is the formal title for a chief law officer (where there is no attorney general) or for the chief assistant to the law officer (when there is an attorney general). Capitalize when used before a name. Do not use lawyer as a formal title."

Just some good food for thought!


Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be willing to post the name of the listerv, would you?

Anonymous said...

These are great definitions and explanations of each term. A lot of people are confused about the difference between a lawyer and an attorney and this clarifies it. Great job!