It’s easy to get confused when trying to understand the difference between a lawyer and an attorney. They are both trained in law and have attended law school, making it a bit confusing. Additionally, most people incorrectly use these terms interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference between the two that many don’t realize. 

What Is a Lawyer? 

A lawyer is someone with a J.D., or Juris Doctor degree, which is earned after 3 years of law school. Obtaining a J.D. does not make you eligible to practice law as an attorney, but it does allow you to work in fields such as public policy or education. A lawyer can say that they have a law degree and have been formally educated in the field of law, but they cannot provide legal advice.  

The practice of law is strictly regulated by the state bar association or governing body in which the attorney practices. To be able to provide legal advice or represent someone legally in court, a person must pass the bar exam and be admitted as an attorney-at-law in their respective state.

You also cannot hold yourself out to be an attorney or as having the ability to engage in the practice of law. If you’re telling people that you are an attorney and don’t specify that you haven’t passed the bar and that you can’t actually practice law, you could find yourself in big trouble.

What Is an Attorney? 

An attorney, also known as an attorney-at-law, is someone who has earned their J.D., passed the bar exam, and has been admitted by the state bar association to practice law within that state. An attorney may represent clients in court proceedings, file legal documents on behalf of their clients, advise their clients on various legal matters, draft contracts and other documents for their clients, negotiate settlements with opposing parties on behalf of their clients, and more.

Additionally, attorneys must complete continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on changes in the law and to maintain their license. 

If you need legal help, the most important step is finding an attorney who can best represent your interests. But with so many attorneys out there, how do you know which one to choose? It’s a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips on how to find the right one:

Research Attorneys

The first step in finding the right attorney is researching different attorneys and law firms that specialize in the type of legal help you need. You can search for attorneys online or ask friends and family for referrals. 

Make sure to look into each professional’s credentials, such as education, experience, and track record. Keep in mind that the most expensive or the least expensive attorney isn’t necessarily the best choice; instead, focus on their reputation and results.

Interview Potential Candidates

Once you’ve gathered a list of potential candidates, it’s time to interview them over the phone or in-person if possible. This will give you an opportunity to get a better feel for their experience and expertise as well as their understanding of your case. 

Ask questions about their background and experience handling cases similar to yours. You should also inquire about their fees upfront so that there are no surprises down the line.

Don’t forget to ask questions regarding services that may not be included in the fee agreement. For example, do you have to pay for expert witness fees and filing fees? Ask these questions before signing anything—this way there won’t be any surprises later on down the line.

Check Their References

It’s always a good idea to check references when selecting an attorney; this provides another layer of assurance that they are qualified to handle your case and will work hard on your behalf. 

Ask previous clients what kind of results they achieved with this particular attorney, whether they felt comfortable working with them throughout their case, and if they would recommend them again in the future.

Finding the right attorney can make all the difference when it comes to achieving positive outcomes from your legal matter. If you need help, contact us to schedule a free consultation. 

Contact Our Chicago Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Chicago, Illinois, and need legal help, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers at Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Cook County and its surrounding areas:

Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers
134 N La Salle St #2160
Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: (312) 929-2884