'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

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bdm261
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'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby bdm261 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:26 pm

Really dumb question but are the terms "lawyer" and "attorney" interchangeable? Does one word mean one thing and the other mean something else? I know they have "barristers" and "solicitors" in England as the term and do those describe two different capacities if I'm correct? Is it the same here?

Lastly, what is an Esquire? Why do some attorneys choose to sign their name as Joe Lawyer, Esq. and others use Joe Lawyer, J.D., or Joe Lawyer, P.A. (which I assume means "practicing attorney")?

09042014
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby 09042014 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:42 pm

Lawyer and attorney are synonyms.

exitoptions
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby exitoptions » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:47 pm

Lawyer refers to your training whereas attorney refers to your ability to practice before a particular jurisdiction. Esquire is a meaningless title that I believe was formerly given by the English monarchy but it now given to anyone willing to subject themselves to law school. PA is not the title of a person, but rather the entity-the firm.

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quiver
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby quiver » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:36 pm

exitoptions wrote:Lawyer refers to your training whereas attorney refers to your ability to practice before a particular jurisdiction.
That doesn't sound right but I don't know enough to dispute it.

Swimp
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Swimp » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:05 am

exitoptions wrote:Lawyer refers to your training whereas attorney refers to your ability to practice before a particular jurisdiction. Esquire is a meaningless title that I believe was formerly given by the English monarchy but it now given to anyone willing to subject themselves to law school. PA is not the title of a person, but rather the entity-the firm.


This is similar to what I've read. If you refer to someone as an "attorney," it implies that they have some explicit power of attorney. The etymology descends from Latin through old French for "one appointed." And the implication is that we're talking about someone appointed to represent someone else's interests. So that's the subtext. A "lawyer," by contrast, is just someone who "laws." Just generally.

indo
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby indo » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:15 am

bdm261 wrote:Really dumb question but are the terms "lawyer" and "attorney" interchangeable? Does one word mean one thing and the other mean something else? I know they have "barristers" and "solicitors" in England as the term and do those describe two different capacities if I'm correct? Is it the same here?

Lastly, what is an Esquire? Why do some attorneys choose to sign their name as Joe Lawyer, Esq. and others use Joe Lawyer, J.D., or Joe Lawyer, P.A. (which I assume means "practicing attorney")?

check this website for the different between attorney and lawyer.

http://www.thelawinsider.com/insider-ti ... -a-lawyer/

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Bildungsroman
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Bildungsroman » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:07 am

No, attorney and lawyer are synonyms.

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vanwinkle
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:59 am

Swimp wrote:This is similar to what I've read. If you refer to someone as an "attorney," it implies that they have some explicit power of attorney. The etymology descends from Latin through old French for "one appointed." And the implication is that we're talking about someone appointed to represent someone else's interests.

I think there's something true about this. "Attorney" does have a specific usage that isn't really synonymous with "lawyer", referring to representation of a specific client or entity. You see this in specific terms of art like "power of attorney", "district attorney" and "attorney general". It's used in that context for saying the person is a legal representative of a particular somebody.

However, in the United States there's no formal legal distinction between the two terms, and since nearly all practicing lawyers represent somebody, the words have become synonyms in their everyday usage. You wouldn't say "power of lawyer", but you can interchangeably say "he's our lawyer" and "he's our attorney".

Also:

Swimp wrote:So that's the subtext. A "lawyer," by contrast, is just someone who "laws." Just generally.

Lol wtf. Really, "someone who laws", from somebody who cites etymology?

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Bronte
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Bronte » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:15 pm

Garner's Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage says: "In the US, attorney, attorney at law, and lawyer are generally viewed as synonyms. . . . From the fact that an attorney is really an agent, [one authority] deduces that 'a lawyer is an attorney only when he has a client. . . .' Yet this distinction between lawyer and attorney is rarely, if ever, observed in practice."

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breadbucket
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby breadbucket » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:57 pm

Bildungsroman wrote:No, attorney and lawyer are synonyms.


That's right, just kick open the saloon door, waltz right on in here, ignore all the posts around you and just order a tall of smart ass over at the bar.

Swimp
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Swimp » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:23 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
Swimp wrote:So that's the subtext. A "lawyer," by contrast, is just someone who "laws." Just generally.

Lol wtf. Really, "someone who laws", from somebody who cites etymology?


Haha, I was being flip, but come on, it's not so ridiculous. A sawyer saws, a bowyer makes bows, a clothier makes clothes. -yer and -ier suffixes all come from old French and indicate profession. It's like saying "That guy's job has to do with X."

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vanwinkle
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:26 pm

Swimp wrote:Haha, I was being flip, but come on, it's not so ridiculous. A sawyer saws, a bowyer makes bows, a clothier makes clothes. -yer and -ier suffixes all come from old French and indicate profession. It's like saying "That guy's job has to do with X."

You wouldn't say a bowyer is "someone who bows".

Swimp
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Swimp » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:27 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
Swimp wrote:Haha, I was being flip, but come on, it's not so ridiculous. A sawyer saws, a bowyer makes bows, a clothier makes clothes. -yer and -ier suffixes all come from old French and indicate profession. It's like saying "That guy's job has to do with X."

You wouldn't say a bowyer is "someone who bows".


But that's essentially what's communicated by the morpheme.

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MarcusAurelius
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby MarcusAurelius » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:31 pm

The attorney lawyer distinction is explained here in this 30 second clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFb1VT0nPqo

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dingbat
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby dingbat » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:39 pm

bdm261 wrote:Lastly, what is an Esquire? Why do some attorneys choose to sign their name as Joe Lawyer, Esq. and others use Joe Lawyer, J.D., or Joe Lawyer, P.A. (which I assume means "practicing attorney")?

In England, Esquire is a (minor) title of nobility, just below that of knight, generally one that you received by birth (being the younger son of certain nobles, the eldest son of a knight, or the eldest son of an esquire)
It was also bestowed on a justice of the peace.

IMO using the styling Esquire (or Esq) without being born an esquire (or having been given the title) you're a douche

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MachineLemon
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby MachineLemon » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:01 pm

Bildungsroman wrote:No, attorney and lawyer are synonyms.


WVO Quine, call your office.

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vanwinkle
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:02 pm

Swimp wrote:But that's essentially what's communicated by the morpheme.

I feel stupid having to explain this to someone who can use the word "morpheme", but the word "bow" is not a verb that means "to make bows", and the word "law" is not a verb that means "to make laws". The phrases "someone who bows" and "someone who laws" are gibberish because they combine words in a way that does not match their known meanings, and as such, saying they are what something which has an articulatable meaning communicates is ridiculous.

Swimp
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Swimp » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:20 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
Swimp wrote:But that's essentially what's communicated by the morpheme.

I feel stupid having to explain this to someone who can use the word "morpheme", but the word "bow" is not a verb that means "to make bows", and the word "law" is not a verb that means "to make laws". The phrases "someone who bows" and "someone who laws" are gibberish because they combine words in a way that does not match their known meanings, and as such, saying they are what something which has an articulatable meaning communicates is ridiculous.


Well, look, if you don't like my analogy, that's fine, but I think you're selling yourself short when you say that what I wrote was total incomprehensible gibberish. The reason I even chimed in was because understanding the structure of the words in question helps me remember their differences. So, to flesh out the shorthand I used above:

Attorney = someone appointed to represent the interests of some other entity
Lawyer = somebody whose tool is law

Broad strokes.

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Bronte
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Bronte » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:34 pm

Swimp wrote:So, to flesh out the shorthand I used above:

Attorney = someone appointed to represent the interests of some other entity
Lawyer = somebody whose tool is law

Broad strokes.


That distinction is archaic.

Swimp
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Swimp » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:43 pm

Bronte wrote:
Swimp wrote:So, to flesh out the shorthand I used above:

Attorney = someone appointed to represent the interests of some other entity
Lawyer = somebody whose tool is law

Broad strokes.


That distinction is archaic.


Well if someone asks "Hey, why do we have two words, 'attorney' and 'lawyer,' that seem to mean exactly the same thing?" And you're satisfied with the answer "I dunno," then we're just interested in different things, I guess.

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Bronte
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Bronte » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:13 pm

Swimp wrote:
Bronte wrote:That distinction is archaic.


Well if someone asks "Hey, why do we have two words, 'attorney' and 'lawyer,' that seem to mean exactly the same thing?" And you're satisfied with the answer "I dunno," then we're just interested in different things, I guess.


The question is not "why do we have two words, 'attorney' and 'lawyer'?" The question is "are the terms 'lawyer' and 'attorney' interchangeable?" The answer is, yes, in modern American English and legal usage, the terms are synonyms. If you need to make a distinction between attorney as agent and attorney as legal practitioner, these words aren't going to do it for you. And, yeah, that's pretty much where my interest ends.

exitoptions
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby exitoptions » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:49 pm

Bronte wrote:
Swimp wrote:
Bronte wrote:That distinction is archaic.


Well if someone asks "Hey, why do we have two words, 'attorney' and 'lawyer,' that seem to mean exactly the same thing?" And you're satisfied with the answer "I dunno," then we're just interested in different things, I guess.


The question is not "why do we have two words, 'attorney' and 'lawyer'?" The question is "are the terms 'lawyer' and 'attorney' interchangeable?" The answer is, yes, in modern American English and legal usage, the terms are synonyms. If you need to make a distinction between attorney as agent and attorney as legal practitioner, these words aren't going to do it for you. And, yeah, that's pretty much where my interest ends.


They are used interchangibly by people who do not know better. Just like "home loan" and "mortgage" are used by lay people. I'll be a lawyer until I die; I hope I'm not an attorney that long...

09042014
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby 09042014 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:57 pm

exitoptions wrote:
Bronte wrote:
Swimp wrote:
Bronte wrote:That distinction is archaic.


Well if someone asks "Hey, why do we have two words, 'attorney' and 'lawyer,' that seem to mean exactly the same thing?" And you're satisfied with the answer "I dunno," then we're just interested in different things, I guess.


The question is not "why do we have two words, 'attorney' and 'lawyer'?" The question is "are the terms 'lawyer' and 'attorney' interchangeable?" The answer is, yes, in modern American English and legal usage, the terms are synonyms. If you need to make a distinction between attorney as agent and attorney as legal practitioner, these words aren't going to do it for you. And, yeah, that's pretty much where my interest ends.


They are used interchangibly by people who do not know better. Just like "home loan" and "mortgage" are used by lay people. I'll be a lawyer until I die; I hope I'm not an attorney that long...


Steven Lubet, the Williams Professor of Law at Northwestern Law School wrote:For what it’s worth, the lawyer/attorney distinction is folklore. The terms are synonymous in American English and you may not hold yourself out as either unless you are admitted to practice somewhere.
http://abovethelaw.com/2009/07/lawyer-vs-attorney-a-distinction-without-a-difference/

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Bronte
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby Bronte » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:09 pm

exitoptions wrote:They are used interchangibly by people who do not know better. Just like "home loan" and "mortgage" are used by lay people. I'll be a lawyer until I die; I hope I'm not an attorney that long...


On the contrary, very knowledgeable people use them interchangeably, including the foremost authority on legal usage, Bryan Garner, who is the editor of Black's Law Dictionary, the author of Garner's Modern American Usage and Garner's Dictionary on Legal Usage, and a contributor to the Chicago Manual of Style. He is aware of the purported distinction between the terms and rejects it.

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warandpeace
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Re: 'Attorney' vs. 'Lawyer'

Postby warandpeace » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:32 pm

MarcusAurelius wrote:The attorney lawyer distinction is explained here in this 30 second clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFb1VT0nPqo


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