What’s the Difference Between: A Lawyer, Solicitor, Advocate, Barrister, Counselor, and an Attorney?

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What’s the Difference Between: A Lawyer, Solicitor, Advocate, Barrister, Counselor, and an Attorney?

 by: Amit Laufer

Have you ever wondered where all these somewhat confusing terms came from? Well the answer is they are all types of Lawyers originated from various legal systems. Some of the terms are from the English legal system, some are from Scotland and some from the American legal system.

An Attorney is somebody legally empowered to represent another person, or act on their behalf.

A Lawyer is somebody who can give legal advice and has been trained in the law.

Are Attorney and Lawyer are synonyms? Basically yes, but they are not necessarily Interchangeable terms, you cannot for instance say I give you the Power of a Lawyer, but you definitely might say I give you the power of Attorney…

Look again at the above definitions, does it now make any sense? Off course it does.

An attorney in fact is an agent who conducts business under authority that is controlled and limited by a written document called a letter, or power, of attorney granted by the principal. An attorney at law is an officer of a court of law authorized to represent the person employing him (the client) in legal proceedings.

A Solicitor- One that solicits, especially one that seeks trade or contributions. The chief law officer of a city, town, or government department but does not act as an advocate in court, as opposed to the Attorney who pleads in court. (English Law).

A Barrister(Called Advocate in Scotland) presents the case in court. Most senior and distinguished barristers are designated King’s (Queen’s) counsel.

A Counselor at law- In the past at least in some U.S states there was a distinction between the term A Counselor at Law who argued the case in court and an attorney who prepared the case but didn’t argue it.

Nowadays an attorney at law is authorized to exercise all the functions of a practicing lawyer. All of them must, however, like the ordinary attorney, be admitted to the bar. The term attorney is also used for county, state, and federal prosecuting officers, as county attorney, district attorney, and attorney general.

Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients concerning their legal rights and obligations and suggest particular courses of action in business and personal matters. Although all lawyers are licensed to represent parties in court, some appear in court more frequently than others. Trial lawyers, who specialize in trial work, must be able to think quickly and speak with ease and authority. In addition, familiarity with courtroom rules and strategy is particularly important in trial work. Still, trial lawyers spend the majority of their time outside the courtroom, conducting research, interviewing clients and witnesses, and handling other details in preparation for trial.

Lawyers types:

The legal system affects nearly every aspect of our society, from buying a home to crossing the street. Lawyers hold positions of great responsibility and are obligated to adhere to a strict code of ethics.

The more detailed aspects of a lawyer’s job depend upon his or her field of specialization and position. Although all lawyers are licensed to represent parties in court, some appear in court more frequently than others.

Lawyers may specialize in a number of different areas, such as bankruptcy, probate, international, or elder law. Those specializing in environmental law, for example, may represent public-interest groups, waste disposal companies, or construction firms in their dealings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other Federal and State agencies. These lawyers help clients prepare and file for licenses and applications for approval before certain activities may occur. In addition, they represent clients’ interests in administrative adjudications.

Some lawyers concentrate in the growing field of intellectual property, helping to protect clients’ claims to copyrights, artwork under contract, product designs, and computer programs. Still other lawyers advise insurance companies about the legality of insurance transactions, writing insurance policies to conform with the law and to protect companies from unwarranted claims.

Most lawyers are found in private practice, where they concentrate on criminal or civil law. In criminal law, lawyers represent individuals who have been charged with crimes and argue their cases in courts of law. Attorneys dealing with civil law assist clients with litigation, wills, trusts, contracts, mortgages, titles, and leases. Other lawyers handle only public-interest cases–civil or criminal–which may have an impact extending well beyond the individual client.

These issues might involve patents, government regulations, and contracts with other companies, property interests, or collective-bargaining agreements with unions.

Other lawyers work for legal-aid societies–private, nonprofit organizations established to serve disadvantaged people. These lawyers generally handle civil, rather than criminal, cases. A relatively small number of trained attorneys work in law schools.

The real life situations have created “specialties” according to business profitability. This is how terms like Vioxx Lawyer, DUI Lawyer, Lemon Law Lawyer , Structured Settlements Lawyer and others came about.

Additional Information:


About The Author

Amit Laufer

MBA – International Trade & Finance – Heriot-Watt University. Bsc. Computers and Information Systems – Long Island University – C.W Post Campus. Hobby: Photography. Married with two Children.

Owner Editor of: http://www.Lawyers-Best-Infoweb.com

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This article was posted on January 11, 2006


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