Attorney vs Lawyer: What is the difference between them?

People having least or no legal knowledge appears to be confused with the terms attorney and lawyer. However, there’s no need to compare attorney vs lawyer in any case as they both are two words for the same profession.

Lawyers are also called with many other names other than attorneys including solicitors and barristers. All that matters is the region where the word is used or the profession is called. Additionally, they effectively work the same in terms of rule of law, either commercial law or corporate law. Attorneys and lawyers are supposed to perform the same work which is to help the general public adhering to Federal and state laws. In other parts of the world like South Africa, words like attorneys and lawyers can be applied to the person performing legal functions. As for the United States, ‘councilor’ can also be taken in the mix.

  • Attorney vs Lawyer: What is the difference between them?
  • What is the difference between an attorney at law and a lawyer?
  • Lawyer vs Attorney:  Let’s compare the difference between them
  • What are the average annual earnings of a lawyer?
  • Factors affecting the potential income of a lawyer
  • Highest paying law fields
    • Intellectual property lawyer
    • Medical Lawyers
    • Trial Attorneys
    • Corporate lawyers
  • Pursuing a Legal career for more than a paycheck

What is the difference between an attorney at law and a lawyer?

Attorney at law vs lawyer, there’s not much difference between them in the United States. It’s a united legal profession and no distinctions are there that divide them either the ones that take cases in court and the ones that do not.

As mentioned earlier in the discussion, the only regional difference makes the word complex and creates the comparison as lawyer vs attorney. However, in England, Canada, and Australia, the legal functions of both lawyers and attorneys are a bit different, as these jurisdictions function under common law. That means they have to perform additional legal tasks that a US lawyer or attorney doesn’t necessarily have to perform.

In Canada, a lawyer is a civil law notary that works in a bar or Quebec. In the common law of Canada, a lawyer is also a solicitor or barrister. In Canadian law, there are no limitations for practicing law fields.

In Australia, they call a lawyer who studied, trained, and employed in the profession. The term does not include trained individuals that are not pursuing the profession after studying it. Lawyers are eligible to practice in both corporate and private law. 

In England, many positions in the legal arena are referred to as lawyers. These positions include legal executives, licensed conveyance, barristers, court clerks, judges, and even individuals who draft laws. It requires a level of legal education that suits the title lawyer.

Lawyer vs Attorney:  Let’s compare the difference between them



By definition: A lawyer is someone who has passed the bar exams and is trained in the field of law.

An attorney who is formally called ‘ attorney at law’ is also required to pass the bar exam to have the right to practice law in a certain field.

Lawyers do not significantly have to practice law in their field but they can choose to.

Attorneys have to practice law in criminal land civil courts in their specific jurisdiction. They are required to adhere to a code of ethics.

After passing the bar exam lawyers can take roles like legal consultants and advisors.

After only practicing law in their fields attorneys are allowed to serve the general public.

Whatever you call a legal representative, they are there to help the judicial system to unroll the justice. Here’s a quick overview of how much lawyers earn annually and what factors affect their salaries.

What are the average annual earnings of a lawyer?

In the United States, attorney vs lawyer salary greatly depends on the location you are living in. The average lawyer’s annual salary is $144,230. But then again, it differs from the field of your practice and where you practice.

Certain disparities lie under the number of earnings that a lawyer makes. A lawyer may choose to specialize and continue to practice in the same areas of law, similar to the doctor’s profession that they chose to specialize in an area from the vast medical field. Every field and area of specialty represents the varying earning potential. But certain things always affect this potential of earning that need to be considered.

Factors affecting the potential income of a lawyer

Even with the potential experience and specialties, every lawyer makes different levels of income. Factors that affect the earning potential of the lawyers include:

Size of the law firm – Lawyers, most of the time never opt to join a law firm and opt for solo practice. However, it allows you to work in freedom, but leads you often towards making low annual earning levels. On the other hand, when lawyers associate themselves with a large law firm, they make good earnings and this experience opens the door to work with the firms globally.

Education – Not all law schools are equally created. Of course, the potential for becoming a highly earned lawyer often comes along after a prestigious school label.

Skill and experience – Likewise in any other profession and career, an attorney’s earnings greatly depend on the experience and the skillset he keeps. Regardless of the talent, a first-year associate cannot match the level of earnings to a partner at a large firm.

Geographic region – Lawyers practicing in major metropolitan areas can generate more income than lawyers practicing in rural or small-town communities.

The potential of your earnings also depends on the field you are working in. Sometimes living in a commercial area of your country and practicing in the field of agriculture may not return you the most as compared to property or criminal lawyers in that area would be earning.

Highest paying law fields

Your earning potential also varies according to the field you chose to practice, the hours you put in, and the choices of cases you make in your field. The highest-paying fields include:

Intellectual property lawyer

IP lawyers practice and specialize in the field of trademarks, patents, and copyrights. The explosive IP growth is the reason behind the highest earning potential of this field. Lawyers practicing in the field are required to be fast learners as the laws and procedures for intellectual property keep evolving. They often work for big pharma, huge tech companies, and giant firms at their frontline to protect IP from infringements.

Medical lawyers

The domain in which medical lawyers work differs according to the entity of the case. For instance, many lawyers work to represent medical corporations and hospitals and others see medical malpractice claims of physician andrologist and personal injury cases. Medical lawyers earn one of the highest median earnings in the field.

Trial attorneys

Excellent experience of judicial cases and the grasp of procedural law make the trial attorneys make the most from the field. To get success in the field, trial attorneys have to master the communication skills and the art of persuasive conversation can take them to the next level of earning potential.

A potential attorney needs to have an excellent memory to relate cases on their feet. Use of the statutory law and linking the precedents to put the information to their cases is important as well.

Corporate lawyers

The most sought-after lawyers that counsel businesses in making transactions, acquisitions, sale and purchase of the property, advice on running the firm, and mergers. Contract preparation, submission, and reviewing are some of the hallmarks of corporate lawyers. They make a significantly high income.

Other highly-paid fields of law include probate lawyers, bankruptcy lawyers, and personal injury lawyers, and Tax lawyers. But not everyone works for a high paycheck.

Pursuing a legal career for more than a paycheck

Every attorney that specializes in the law keeps a motivation for working in the law field as a career. Many lawyers pursue the law field because they genuinely want to help others or want to serve the judicial system.

The attorneys holding these perceptions can be found in almost every law field and usually work in criminal defense, public prosecution, public policies, and Family law. Passionate lawyers focus more on serving the community and often work for governmental entities.

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