What is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney?
Most of the time when somebody needs an attorney, it’s in an emergency situation. They’ve been arrested or got in a fight, something unplanned and resulted in going to jail. Unless they have an attorney on a retainer, the search begins to find an attorney to handle their case, and of course everyone wants to find good attorneys. Nobody looks in the yellow pages under “find me a bad attorney”.
The common thought is an attorney is a lawyer and a lawyer is an attorney, but that is incorrect! A lawyer is a person that has earned their JD (Juris Doctor law degree) from a law school. They have a law education, but they are not licensed to practice law.
An attorney on the other hand, is a person that has earned a law degree and is licensed to practice law after they passed the bar examination. They can also be licensed to practice law with a non-bar exam application. An attorney can legally offer advice on matters of the law and represent a client in court.
So, should a family member or friend find themselves in a position of needing an attorney, and they tell you, “Find an attorney for me.”, make sure you are finding an ‘attorney’ and not a ‘lawyer’. While the lawyer can meet with them and advise them, they will need to refer them to an attorney should their case go to court.
How do I find an attorney?
You can begin your search on the internet with a search “find an attorney near me”, and because Google knows all, you’ll get pages of attorneys in your area. Or if a family member or friend has recommended an attorney by name but didn’t have any contact information, you can do an internet search for, “find an attorney by name”. Because there can be more than one attorney with the same name, you want to make sure it is the same one referred to you.
Your employer may offer legal aid services for their employees and families. This is something you can ask Human Resources about or check your Employee Manual. There are referral services that can help you find an attorney too, and of course advertisements can help too.
If you’re trying to find someone’s attorney or deputy on their behalf, you can use the same methods mentioned.
How do I find the best lawyer for my situation?
After you have located an attorney by using the tips we advised above, here are some pointers to help you find the attorney best for your case and needs:
- A starting qualification is to find an attorney that you and the defendant is comfortable with talking about the case. They need to know everything about the matter, so make sure you’re comfortable in that scenario.
- Clarify what the attorney’s area of expertise is law is currently and in the past. Some states have specialization programs where an attorney is certified for a certain type of law.
- What type of legal cases does the attorney normally handle? They may handle more than one type of legal cases, but you want to find an attorney that the majority of their caseload is similar to your case.
- You should consider where their office is located, do they make house calls, what are the fees, and as how long do they see your case taking before it is settled.
How do I check a lawyer’s reputation?
A legal battle can be won or lost based on the attorney or lawyer you hire just as much as the case facts and the law can determine a win or lose. Everyone says to find an attorney with a strong reputation, but how can you find out an attorney’s reputation?
- The state bar
- Word of mouth.
Every attorney that practices law in any state must be licensed by that state which is done by the state bar association. This association can confirm for if an attorney is licensed to practice in your state, and research any disciplinarian issues.
A state bar’s disciplinary organization monitor all registered attorneys and investigates every client complaint. If it is deemed by the organization that the attorney has violated the ethical rules set in place, they will apply appropriate disciplinarian action.
Word of Mouth
Every attorney that has a clean disciplinary record doesn’t mean they are a good attorney. A good attorney needs to stay out of trouble, but they also need to have a good record that secured their clients a good outcome. This is information you get by word of mouth from previous clients.
It isn’t uncommon for the average person getting arrested not to have any money to hire an attorney. So, how can I find a lawyer with no money? As per the Miranda rights, an attorney will be provided by the courts. Some other options to find an attorney would be:
- Contingency Cases: This gives a person legal counsel without any upfront payment. The attorney is paid if and when the case is settled in favor of the client. This is typically a case where a person is seeking recovery costs.
- Pro Bono: This is when an attorney is volunteering their skill and services to represent a client. This may be through Legal Aid or other charity organization, or the attorney may have a personal cause in wanting to represent a client Pro Bono.
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