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Posted on May 6, 2020 in Arizona Law

Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney

Even though most people use the words lawyer and attorney interchangeably to describe someone who gives legal advice and represents a person in court, there is a slight distinction between the two words. Only one of these two is admitted to practice law and can represent you in court.

What Makes Someone a Lawyer?

A lawyer is a person who has been trained in the field of law. In most cases, the person attended and graduated from law school. Upon graduating from law school, the person received a Juris Doctor.

However, receiving a Juris Doctor does not authorize a person to practice law. There is one more step the person must take to practice law.

What is an Attorney?

An attorney is a lawyer who has taken and passed the bar exam in one or more states. Once a lawyer passes a bar examination, they can practice law as an attorney.

An attorney provides legal advice and can represent parties in a legal action and in court. If a lawyer gives legal advice or represents someone in a court action, he is practicing law without a license.

The unauthorized practice of law is defined in Arizona Supreme Court Rule 31(1)(2)(B). It includes, but may not be limited to practicing law without being admitted to practice in Arizona. It also prohibits the use of designations such as attorney at law, lawyer, law office, JD, Esq., and counselor at law without being admitted to practice.

How is a Lawyer Admitted to Practice in Arizona?

There are three ways to be admitted to practice law in Arizona. A lawyer can take and pass the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) or be admitted to practice by transferring an acceptable UBE score from another state. In some cases, a lawyer may be admitted to practice in Arizona by petitioning the court and meeting certain requirements for admission to the Arizona Bar.

It is important to remember that a lawyer must pass the bar in each state he or she wishes to practice law. For example, a lawyer may pass the bar in Arizona and become a practicing attorney in Arizona, but that does not mean he can call himself an attorney in Texas or represent clients in Texas without passing the Texas bar.

The laws for admitting an attorney to practice law vary slightly by state. Lawyers must check the rules in each state to ensure they do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

How to Choose a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Being charged with a crime is stressful. Your best option for protecting your legal rights and your best interests is to contact an Arizona criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

However, you want to search for a criminal defense lawyer who handles cases like your case. For example, if you are arrested for possession of drugs, you want to hire a drug crimes attorney. However, if your charge relates to indecent exposure, you want to hire a sex crimes lawyer.

Hiring an attorney who has experience handling your type of case means that the attorney understands that law relevant to your case. It also means that the attorney has practiced in the specific courts and before the specific judges who will hear your case. It can be an advantage to have an attorney who is familiar with the parties involved in your criminal case.

What to do After Being Charged With a Crime?

Contact an attorney as soon as possible. While you wait for an attorney, do not discuss the case with the police or any other party. You are not required to answer questions or provide a statement until you have spoken with your attorney.

If you are the subject of a criminal investigation, do not do anything that could hurt your case. Do not voluntarily agree to a search of your home, vehicle, or person. Do not answer questions other than confirming your name and contact information.

If the police have decided to arrest you, you cannot talk your way out of the arrest. Talking to the police could provide additional evidence that could be used against you in court. Instead, just stay quiet.

When you do choose a criminal defense lawyer, make sure that you are honest and open with your attorney. Anything you say to your attorney is held in confidence.

Your attorney needs to know everything to develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of a positive outcome in your case. Lying to your attorney or omitting details can have costly consequences. Choose an attorney that you trust and then tell the attorney everything you can remember about the case, even if you do not think it may be relevant or important.