Attorney Vs. Lawyer…
Believe it or not, there is a difference between an attorney and a lawyer. An attorney is a lawyer but a lawyer is not necessarily an attorney. Confused? Let me clear that up for you.
A lawyer is simply a person trained in the law and may or may not provide legal guidance to a client. So anyone who has attended law school in the U.S. can consider himself or herself a lawyer. That’s not who you want defending your case especially if you’re facing off with the federal government!
Until a lawyer passes the bar exam in the jurisdiction in which they intend to practice, their methods are limited. For example, a policy advisor or consultant to the government, who attended law school, is technically a lawyer and may off their skills but must not cross the fine line into providing legal representation.
An attorney is also a lawyer, has attended law school, passed a bar examination and has been admitted to practice law. The relationship an attorney has with a client goes beyond merely providing factual law but they have the skill to delve into defense strategy. This skill can determine if you’re going to jail for years or having your sentence shaved down to a few months. This is who you want defending you!
An attorney can also appear in court and other settings on behalf of a client. An attorney is also a lawyer, but a lawyer may not necessarily be an attorney.
How to choose the best attorney
Consider a Specialist
Attorneys specialize in certain areas. So-called “general practitioners” may not know that much about the particular area of your concern. For example, of the almost one million lawyers in America today, probably fewer than 50,000 possess sufficient training and experience in small business law to be of any real help to an entrepreneur. That should be of great concern to a person facing federal or state charges.
I’ve heard of cases where the client paid out the nose for services to an attorney who simply was in over their heads. The client got the full penalty and the attorney felt terrible about it. We do have feelings even if that’s hard to believe. Smart attorneys never take on cases that are out of their depths.
It can pay to work with an attorney who already knows the field such as:
immigration, drug violations, white-collar crimes (internet, fraud), money laundering, or felony DUI. That way you can take advantage of the fact that the attorney is already far up the learning curve. Sometimes specialists charge a little more, but if their specialized strategy and relationships to court officials and prosecutors is truly valuable, it can be money well spent. It can mean the difference in spending years in jail or only a few months.