Lawyer? Attorney? Counselor? What’s the Difference?

     This page is continued from Getting Started >>>> Representing Yourself “Pro Se” and Assisting Others as a Non-Lawyer:


    Many terms such as attorney, lawyer, and counselor mean different things.  Below, several of these terms, including several you may not have heard, are organized below.  Additional terms will be added on a later date.

counselor – a lawyer or barrister, a term usually used to reference one who is acting as a courtroom advocate.

attorney – an attorney at law or attorney in fact; unless otherwise indicated, generally means attorney at law.

solicitor – an attorney at law acting as head of the law department of a municipal corporation or other division of government; in England, similar to a paralegal.

lawyer – someone licensed to practice law, and thus qualified to advise about legal matters, prepare contracts and other legal instruments, and represent others in court.

Various Types of Attorneys:

attorney in fact – one who is authorized, via a power of attorney, to act as legal agent in order to transact business, on behalf of his principal. — aka private attorney.

attorney at law – an officer of the court who is licensed to practice law; a lawyer (qualified to advise about legal matters, prepare legal instruments, and represent others in court). — aka public attorney.

  • lawyer – someone licensed to practice law, and thus qualified to advise about legal matters, prepare contracts and other legal instruments, and represent others in court.
    • practice of law – the professional work of a lawyer (i.e. conducting cases in court, preparing papers necessary to bring about various transactions from conveying land to effecting corporate mergers, preparing legal opinions on points of law, drafting wills and other estate-planning documents, and advising clients on legal questions).
    • barrister – in England or Northern Ireland, a lawyer who is admitted to plead at the bar and who may argue cases in superior courts; has a similar function as an American trial lawyer.
  • district attorney – an appointed, or, usually elected public officer who conducts actions, generally criminal prosecutions, on behalf of his state in his district, usually a county.. — Abbr. D.A. — aka public prosecutor; state’s attorney; prosecuting attorney.
  • attorney general – chief law officer of a state or of the United States; advises the government on legal matters and represents it in litigation. — Abbr. AG.  Pl. attorneys general.

Related Terms, Doctrines, etc.:

attorney’s fee – the charge for services (i.e. hourly fee, flat fee, or contingent fee).

last-link doctrine the rule that an attorney need not divulge nonprivileged information if doing so would reveal information protected by the attorney-client privilege, especially if the information could lead to indictment or conviction.


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]:  Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.



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