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What’s the Difference Between: A Lawyer, Solicitor, Advocate, Barrister, Counselor, and an Attorney?

Have you ever wondered where all these somewhat confusing terms came from? Well the answer is they are all types of Lawyers originated from various legal systems. Some of the terms are from the English legal system, some are from Scotland and some from the American legal system.

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An Attorney is somebody legally empowered to represent another person, or act on their behalf.

A Lawyer is somebody who can give legal advice and has been trained in the law.

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Are Attorney and Lawyer are synonyms? Basically yes, but they are not necessarily Interchangeable terms, you cannot for instance say I give you the Power of a Lawyer, but you definitely might say I give you the power of Attorney…

Look again at the above definitions, does it now make any sense? Off course it does.

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An attorney in fact is an agent who conducts business under authority that is controlled and limited by a written document called a letter, or power, of attorney granted by the principal. An attorney at law is an officer of a court of law authorized to represent the person employing him (the client) in legal proceedings.

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A Solicitor– One that solicits, especially one that seeks trade or contributions. The chief law officer of a city, town, or government department but does not act as an advocate in court, as opposed to the Attorney who pleads in court. (English Law).

A Barrister(Called Advocate in Scotland) presents the case in court. Most senior and distinguished barristers are designated King’s (Queen’s) counsel.

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Most lawyers are found in private practice, where they concentrate on criminal or civil law. In criminal law, lawyers represent individuals who have been charged with crimes and argue their cases in courts of law. Attorneys dealing with civil law assist clients with litigation, wills, trusts, contracts, mortgages, titles, and leases. Other lawyers handle only public-interest cases–civil or criminal–which may have an impact extending well beyond the individual client.

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These issues might involve patents, government regulations, and contracts with other companies, property interests, or collective-bargaining agreements with unions.

Other lawyers work for legal-aid societies–private, nonprofit organizations established to serve disadvantaged people. These lawyers generally handle civil, rather than criminal, cases. A relatively small number of trained attorneys work in law schools.

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The real life situations have created “specialties” according to business profitability. This is how terms like Vioxx Lawyer, DUI Lawyer, Lemon Law Lawyer , Structured Settlements Lawyer and others came about.

What's the Difference Between: A Lawyer, Solicitor, Advocate, Barrister, Counselor, and an Attorney?

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The following are six main points that highlight the functions of a lawyer.

1) Representation of clients in court - especially when charges are leveled against the client by a third party such as the state or another person concerning crimes or criminal actions allegedly taken by the client. Otherwise, the lawyers draw up papers against an offender who is believed to have violated the rights of the client, and stands for the client in court.

2) Drafting of papers and doing legal research on behalf of the client - such as in the writing of briefs and research into relevant facts concerning a particular case. Most of the hard work is done by the lawyer, while the clients merely need to show their face.

5) Executing the last wishes of the deceased - such as a written will stating their precise desires in black and white, a trust, etc. The lawyer helps to see to it that these wishes are carried out to the letter.

6) Prosecution of criminal suspects in court - this is applicable if the lawyer is working for an arm of government, say the Police Department, the Department of Justice, or the District Attorney's Office.

The 4 Consumer Rights

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If you are finding it difficult to work with your lawyer or are not satisfied with his work for any reason, you need not worry as you have the absolute right to replace him/her with a more competent one in the middle of an ongoing case. In fact, you are even entitled to change him/her mid-case without any reason. Thus, not considering the reason for the replacement in the middle of the lawsuit, your attorney has to agree with your decision.

The Process Involved

- Soon after you discharge your legal representative or file a request for the same, he/she is required to follow local procedures and notify the local court about the discharge.

- Once the formalities are completed, the court will allow the change, after which you can hire a new legal representative who is competent enough to represent you well.

3) Take the decision as soon as you realize that your professional relationship with him/her cannot work out well. This is because if you try for the replacement just a few days before some important case hearing, you might regret your decision later.

4) Make sure you provide your new attorney with the contact details of the old one, who was previously handling the case.

However, as you are solely responsible for your own legal affairs, it is up to you to decide whether a change of lawyer mid-case is feasible for your case. Such changes can have both positive, as well as negative effects on the case. It is, therefore, in your own favor to analyze the potential consequences before taking any decision.

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