The Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney

Are you looking for some legal advice after a personal injury? Maybe you’re considering a divorce and are unsure what your next steps should be? Either way, the first thing people do when they need legal aid is turn to Google. So you probably found yourself googling Dallas attorney or Dallas lawyer and thought to yourself — which one of these legal professionals can actually help me? This is quite a common question. The legal profession is vast and full of terms that lay-people might not understand. When you’re looking for an attorney who can help you escape domestic violence, for example, you don’t have the time to deal with semantics. That’s why today, we’re explaining the difference between a lawyer and an attorney. 

A Matter of Semantics or Something More?

Most people are pretty familiar with the terms lawyer and attorney. However, not many know if there’s a difference between the two and if there is, what it is. 

In simple terms, a lawyer is a person who finished law school in the United States. They’ve learned about the law and are trained to practice it, offer legal advice, and deal with legal documents.

On the other hand, an attorney is someone who, just like a lawyer, has a law degree. However, they are also licensed to practice the law in their state and can represent a client in court. That means they passed the bar exam in their state or even multiple states. Attorney at law advocates for their clients, and they are bound by law to represent their best interests, while defending their case in court. Of course, the same goes for cases that are mitigated outside of the court. The word “attorney” actually means “to act on behalf of others,” which is a pretty exact definition of their profession.

Practical Differences 

A lawyer may or may not have passed the bar exam. However, they all graduated from law school. You don’t have to practice law in court to be a lawyer. Lawyers offer legal advice and act as consultants, and many of them often specialize in one or more fields. Attorneys can also specialize in various fields, but they practice the law in court.


If you’ve researched lawyers vs. attorneys, you probably saw that some of them have JD before their names, while others have Esq. These abbreviations stand for Juris Doctor and Esquire. Juris Doctor means a person has a law degree (or a J.D. degree). Esquire means they also passed the bar exam. Therefore, lawyers have JD before their names, while attorneys have Esq.

Contact Davis, Ermis & Roberts Today

Regardless of whether you need a lawyer or an attorney, we have both! Our team is made up of a variety of skilled legal experts that can help you with any legal matter. Don’t hesitate to contact Davis, Ermis & Roberts today. We are more than happy to provide help, assistance, defense, or advice.