What is the Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney?
Bill Allen | October 1, 2020 | Personal Injury
Most people searching for an attorney in Florida probably do not care about the difference between a lawyer and an attorney. They want to ensure that the person who represents them is an experienced legal advocate who can help them protect their legal rights and best interests. However, there is an important difference between a lawyer and an attorney that you need to know about before hiring someone to represent you in a legal matter.
Should You Choose a Lawyer or an Attorney?
The words lawyer and attorney are generally interchangeable in conversation. If you search for a medical malpractice lawyer, you will also find medical malpractice attorneys. Likewise, a search for car accident attorneys will provide you with the names of car accident lawyers.
However, is there a difference between a lawyer and an attorney?
Yes, there is one significant difference that you need to understand. Strictly speaking, lawyers are not permitted to represent clients in court.
Even though a lawyer has graduated from law school, a lawyer is not admitted to practice law. Only a lawyer admitted to practice in Florida can legally represent you in a Florida court.
Lawyers must take and pass the Florida bar exam to practice law in Florida. They must also meet the other qualifications to practice law. Once a lawyer satisfies these requirements, they become attorneys.
If a person appears in court without being licensed or admitted to practice, the person could be guilty of the unlawful practice of law.
Most attorneys use the word “Esquire” or the initials “J.D.” as part of their names. Juris Doctor is the title of the degree the attorney earned when graduating from law school. Esquire is a term used to indicate that a lawyer has been admitted to practice law.
If you want to be sure an attorney is licensed to practice, you can check with The Florida Bar. However, asking the attorney is generally sufficient to determine if a lawyer can legally practice law in Florida. It would be very rare to meet with an established attorney located in Florida that is not admitted to practice law in this state.
How Can an Attorney Help Me with a Personal Injury Case?
If another party caused your injury, you might be entitled to compensation under Florida’s personal injury laws. A personal injury lawyer can help you:
- Provide support, guidance, and legal advice regarding an injury or accident
- Seek compensation from the party who caused your injury in a slip and fall accident, boating accident, or other accident
- Investigate the cause of your injury to gather evidence to prove the other party caused your injury
- Work with your doctors to document your injuries and any permanent impairments
- Hire accident, medical, and financial experts to work on your case
- Recover compensation for a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one
- Handle all communication with insurance companies
- Create detailed demand settlement packages and negotiate settlements with the insurance companies
An attorney is the only person that can represent you in court. It can be beneficial to hire an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Your attorney can begin building a strong case for trial if a personal injury lawsuit is necessary.
Tips for Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney
When you meet with a lawyer, always ask if the lawyer is admitted to practice in Florida or check to ensure the attorney is in good standing before meeting with the lawyer.
Tips that can help choose the best attorney for your case include:
- Choose an attorney that has extensive experience handling cases similar to your case
- Meet with the attorney in person to judge how you and the attorney communicate
- Ask if the attorney has experience in court handling trials related to your case
- Meet with several attorneys before choosing an attorney
- Avoid making decisions regarding your case while you meet with an attorney. Take time to think about your options.
- Ask the attorney whether you can call with questions and concerns during your case
Always discuss the attorneys’ fees and costs before hiring the attorney. Most personal injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis, but you might be responsible for some costs even though you do not recover money for your claim. Make sure you know this information.
Lawyers and attorneys work to protect their clients’ best interests. Even though money cannot undo the pain and damages caused by a negligent party, it can help with expenses and losses. An attorney works to maximize the value of your claim so that you receive the maximum compensation available for your case.