AP Style Attorney, Lawyer

What are the Differences Between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

In common usage, these words are used interchangeably, however, there is a technical difference.

An attorney is someone (usually, but not necessarily, a lawyer) empowered to act for another. Such an individual is occasionally called an attorney in fact.

A lawyer is a person admitted to practice in a court system. Someone who holds this distinction is usually called an attorney at law.

You should not abbreviate these two terms. You should also not capitalize these terms unless it is an officeholder’s title. For example,

  • defense attorney Remi Spencer.
  • attorney Remi Spencer.
  • District Attorney Ron Swanson.

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