The terms Lawyer, Attorney, Barrister and Solicitor are terms that are often confused but one needs to be aware of the subtle differences that are there between them. However, Attorney and Lawyer are the most common terms. Below, we will try to give clarity to some of these terms and then subsequently give what we think are vital issues to look at when one is looking for a good attorney or lawyer.

Who is a Lawyer?


The term lawyer is generally used to refer to someone who represents the interest of another. In some countries, the term lawyer is used as an umbrella terms to refer to all those with a legal training. For example in Australia, it is used to refer to both barristers and solicitors. However it is important to point out that some countries only use the term to refer to only a certain group of people. In other words, they differentiate depending on their functions. In Canada the term lawyer is only used to refer to those who have been called to the Bar. In England, it is used to refer to a variety of legally-trained people including barristers, solicitors, legal executives, etc.

Who is an Attorney?

An Attorney

The term refers to someone who is a member of the legal profession and who has been “called to the Bar” of a particular jurisdiction. In other words, he/she is qualified and licensed to represent a client in a court within the jurisdiction to which he/she has been called. Such a person would have sat and passed the Bar examinations in that jurisdiction and would have met all other requirements. In the USA all lawyers are generally referred to as attorneys.

See a List of Lawyers

Who is a Solicitor?


This is usually used to refer to a person who is a member of the legal profession but who does not argue cases in court. Instead he/she meets with clients personally and handles out-of-court legal matters such as filing of papers/documents with the Companies Registry on behalf of his/her clients.

In some countries, when an individual completes the three or four years of legal training at the University, a Bachelor of Laws degree is awarded which can be used to work as a Solicitor only. Until that individual completes a further one year legal training, passes the Bar examination and is called to the Bar, he/she cannot practice as a Barrister (i.e., represent clients in court). This is the system that obtains in some common law system countries.

Other factors to consider when hiring a lawyer

Different Types of Lawyers