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

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.


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