Lawyers vs Attorneys: They’re not the same, surprisingly.

What is a lawyer?

A lawyer can be defined as any person who practices or has studied law, including a solicitor, barrister or an attorney. Lawyers can further be defined as a person whose profession is to advise on legal matters, rights and obligations in matters to their clients. A lawyer’s duties consist of negotiating, strategising, writing, advocating and counselling. Read on to find out more regarding the difference between lawyers vs attorneys.

What is an attorney?

An attorney, also known as a solicitor in Australia, is a qualified legal professional who provides advice. Further, attorneys must have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, and have been admitted to practice law in a state of Australia. An attorney, or solicitor is a person who has a practising certificate and is not a barrister or judge. A solicitors’ main duties include advising clients, preparing their cases, writing legal documents, researching cases and communicating with other legal professionals. 

What is the difference between a lawyer vs attorney?

In Australia, a lawyer is anyone who has earned a law degree, either undergraduate or postgraduate, from a law school. This person is thus educated in the law, however, they are not licensed to practice law in court settings in any jurisdiction. An attorney (also known as a solicitor) is an individual who is both educated in the law and has been admitted to practice law in one or more states.

How do I become an attorney vs a lawyer?

In Australia, there are multiple steps which take many years to complete in order for an individual to become an attorney/solicitor. These include:

  • Completing an approved law degree, either LLB (undergraduate) or Juris Doctor (postgraduate). Completing only this step will make you a qualified lawyer. 
  • Completing Practical Legal Training under a practising lawyer (the length of time dependent on your state)
  • Apply for admission with your chosen state to be admitted as a solicitor

What jobs can I do as a lawyer?

Lawyers, compared to attorneys have an extremely versatile skill set when they graduate their degree, and because of this, there are many career options available. Lawyers may find themselves with the experience of many broad careers by the time they reach retirement, ranging from politics to journalism. Many lawyers specialise in the business sector, and undertake various roles in recruitment, accounting, Human resources and management. Occasionally, lawyers find themselves in the rare position of a judge’s associate, police prosecutor or an advocacy position. 

What is a power of attorney? Is it the same as an attorney?

A power of attorney and an attorney are very different concepts and are not to be confused. A power of attorney is someone whom a person appoints to manage their financial affairs in an emergency situation. This person is not required to have a law degree. Additionally, an Enduring Power of Attorney is where this appointment lasts until the person loses mental capacity. 

How much do attorneys get paid in Australia?

In Australia, the predicted average salary for solicitors for 2022 is $111 734 per year, equating to $57.30 per hour. An entry level position’s annual salary equates to $94 943, with more experienced attorneys making roughly $141 352 per year.

How much do lawyers get paid in Australia?

In Australia, the predicted average salary for lawyers for 2022 is $116 489 per year, equating to $59.74 per hour. As the term lawyer can mean any job within the broad legal profession, an entry-level position’s annual salary equates to $99 801 per annum, with more experienced lawyers earning just under $150 000 per year. 

How much do attorneys and lawyers charge?

In Australia, attorneys and lawyers charge similar rates, ranging anywhere from $300 to $650 per hour. Additionally, this rate may be interchangeable with a fixed price agreement. A 2015 ‘uniform law’ now governs around 70% of Australian lawyers and the amount they can charge. 

What is an Attorney-General? Is it the same as an Attorney?

The Attorney-General’s department is not the same as being an attorney, and it is not a place where attorneys visit or monitor. Although both an attorney and an Attorney-General are legal professionals, the Attorney-General is the minister responsible for legal affairs, national and public security; extremely different from a solicitor. Further, the Attorney-General’s Department, run by the Australian Federal Government aims to ‘maintain and improve Australia’s law and justice framework, and facilitate job growth through policies that promote fair, productive, flexible and safe workplaces’. See for more information. 

What is a trademark attorney in Australia?

A trademark attorney, (also referred to as a patent attorney), represents and advises clients on intellectual property law. These matters include trademark registration, searches, filing and preparation. Additionally, trademark attorneys ensure enforcement both domestically and internationally, as they lodge trademarks through international applications in target markets via the Madrid protocol. Interestingly, trade mark attorneys are not required to have a law degree, instead requiring a Level 5 Australian Qualification Framework qualification (Diploma level) or higher, or the international equivalent that Professional Standards Board of Trade Mark and Patent Attorneys recognise.  

How are barristers different from attorneys?

A barrister is similar to a solicitor/attorney, however, barristers are not always required in court cases, and are normally in a wig and dress during trial proceedings. For more information see our blog post on barristers for their role in the court system. 

If you have any queries, or unsure if you require an attorney to assist you in a court case, you should seek legal advice. Our sister company Legal Kitz can direct you with your next step in determining whether you have adequate representation for any legal issues that may arise. Additionally, if you require further information on barristers see our article here, or the difference between lawyers and barristers here. You can book a free 30-minute consultation via our website now. 

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