In the United States, the terms "lawyer" and "attorney" are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation. However, there is a subtle legal distinction between the two:
A lawyer is a broad term that refers to anyone who has a law degree and is trained in the law. This includes individuals who have completed law school and earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree but may not be actively practicing law. Lawyers can work in various roles, including legal consultants, legal writers, or in non-legal professions.
An attorney, on the other hand, is a subset of lawyers who have not only completed law school but have also passed the bar exam, which is a state-specific examination that licenses them to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. Attorneys are authorized to represent clients in legal matters, provide legal advice, and advocate on their behalf in court.
In summary, all attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. The key difference is that attorneys have been admitted to the bar and are licensed to practice law in a specific jurisdiction, while lawyers may or may not be actively practicing law. The choice of terminology can vary by region and may have different connotations in other countries, but in the United States, the terms are often used interchangeably in casual conversation.