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Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney - Definition, Roles and Responsibilities, Salary

Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney - Definition, Roles and Responsibilities, Salary

Edited By Marar Sumeet Sudarshan | Updated on Oct 19, 2023 05:56 PM IST

Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney: Anyone interested in law and its idiosyncrasies may have definitely pondered upon the difference between attorney and lawyer. While the term lawyer is very commonly used in India, the term attorney is somewhat rarely heard. This may cause some confusion in the matter of attorney and lawyer difference. To be sure, both are legal professionals possessing a 3-year LLB or 5-year LLB degree. However, the lawyer vs attorney debate arises because of the additional qualification required to represent clients in a court. The term attorney is more commonly used in the US and UK. In India, attorneys are better known as advocates. Read the complete article to get all details about the difference between lawyer and attorney.

Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney - Definition, Roles and Responsibilities, Salary
Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney - Definition, Roles and Responsibilities, Salary

Lawyer Vs Attorney: Definition

As suggested earlier in the article, both lawyers and advocates are legal professionals with a law degree. However, an advocate goes one step further and is authorised by law to represent clients in court. Let’s understand the attorney vs lawyer comparison by trying to define the two terms.

A lawyer is usually defined as someone who holds a law degree. It is a universal term to describe anyone who is trained in law and pursues or practises law. Since “Lawyer” is an umbrella term, it also includes in its fold other terms such as attorney, advocates and so on.

On the other hand, an advocate is defined as someone who is a member of a state bar association and whose name has been entered in a state roll maintained by a State Bar Council under section 17 of the Advocates Act, 1961. An advocate is a lawyer who practises in a court of law. To become an advocate a lawyer has to clear the AIBE exam conducted by the Bar Council of India and obtain a Certificate of Practice (CoP).

In short, it can be said that while all advocates are lawyers, not all lawyers are advocates or attorneys.

Lawyer vs Attorney - Roles and Responsibilities

Now that it's amply clear on who lawyers and advocates are, let’s look at what lawyers and advocates do. What are some of their primary roles and responsibilities? The difference between a lawyer and advocate stems from the type of jobs and duties they perform . While focusing on this difference it’s essential to remember that lawyer is an umbrella term.

What do lawyers do?

Individuals who are only lawyers and not advocates cannot represent clients on their own. Many law graduates are employed in law firms or in the legal department of business organisations where their primary responsibilities include work such as

  • Legal research

  • Drafting legal documents

  • Holding client interaction and meetings

  • Managing client files

Many law graduates also opt for a teaching career by pursuing higher education in law, going on to do their LLM and PhD after their LLB.

What do Attorneys do?

Attorneys or advocates are also lawyers. They can perform all the roles and responsibilities of a lawyer as outlined above. However, in addition to that they can also argue on behalf of their clients. Let’s look at the roles and responsibilities which advocates can perform:

  • Advising clients on legal matters

  • Representing clients in a court of law

  • Can work as a family lawyer, criminal lawyer, civil lawyer, corporate lawyer and so on depending on the area of specialisation

  • Performing legal research

  • Preparing legal drafts

Advocates can also enter the teaching profession if they pursue higher education in law and obtain LLM and PhD degrees.

Lawyer versus Attorney - How To Become One?

Here’s a short guide on how to become a lawyer and attorney in India. It includes the eligibility criteria that one has to fulfil and the exams one has to appear for in the journey to become a lawyer and an advocate. Let’s look at both one by one.

How to Become a Lawyer?

One can become a lawyer by completing a 5-year LLB or a 3-year LLB. One has to first ensure to fulfil the eligibility criteria for either of these courses. Aspirants would also be required to appear for a law entrance exam and subsequent counselling process to enrol for the law programmes at different colleges.

Guide to Become a Lawyer



3-year LLB

5-year LLB

Step 1: Fulfil eligibility criteria

Graduation in any stream

Class 12th in any stream

(B.Sc LLB may require 10+2 in science stream)

Step 2: Apply and appear for law entrance exam



Step 3: Appear for counselling process to get admission

Choice filling and seat allotment. Can also include a GD/PI round for some colleges as part of admission process.

Step 4: Course completion

Once enrolled, complete the course and obtain a law degree.

Some exams such as MH CET Law, TS LAWCET and AP LAWCET are separately held for both 3-year LLB and 5-year LLB. In such cases, the exam syllabus remains almost the same with the only difference being in the difficulty level of the exam.

Best Law Colleges in India

As per NIRF law rankings 2023, the following colleges have been ranked among the top 30 colleges in India.

How to Become an Advocate?

Becoming a lawyer is the first step to becoming an advocate. Once the aspirant has obtained the LLB degree, the candidate has to clear the bar exam and enrol in the State Bar Council.

Guide to Become an Advocate




Step 1

Fulfil the AIBE eligibility criteria

3 year LLB or five year integrated LLB degree from an institute recognized by the BCI

Step 2

Enrol with a State Bar Council

Before appearing for the bar exam candidates must first enrol at a state bar council by paying the required fee.

Step 3

Fill out the AIBE application form

Apply and appear for AIBE exam

Step 4

Certificate of Practice (CoP)

After clearing AIBE, BCI candidates can obtain a CoP to represent clients in court.

Also Read: Difference Between Judge and Magistrate

Lawyer vs Attorney: Salary

The difference between lawyer and attorney also reflects on their salary levels. However, the mismatch is not too stark. They are at comparable levels. As per data obtained from AmbitionBox the average salary of a lawyer in India is 4.80 Lakhs p.a while the average salary of an advocate is Rs. 4.70 Lakhs p.a. The gap is insignificant, but the range for a lawyer’s salary is higher than that of the advocate’s.

Attorney Vs Lawyer: Salary Details




Salary Range

1-11.8 Lakhs p.a

1.10-9 Lakhs p.a.

Average Salary

4.80 Lakhs p.a

4.70 Lakhs p.a.

Job Profiles for Lawyers and Attorneys

Job Profile

Average Salary

Job Description

Senior Legal Associate

6.10 lakhs pa

Employed in law firms and work on cases of the firm’s clients

Corporate Lawyer

5.8 lakhs pa

Working in a corporate’s legal team giving legal advice to ensure the company stays on the right side of law..

Criminal Lawyer

3 lakhs pa

Arguing cases on behalf of clients involved in criminal cases

Family Lawyer

3.6 lakhs pa

Arguing cases that are concerned with relationship matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption of a child etc.

Cyber Lawyer

2.4 lakhs pa

They specialise in cyber law and information technology and deal with cases involving data privacy, digital crimes, etc.

Judicial officer

4 lakh pa - 10 lakh pa

Appointed as judges of the high courts and supreme court and lower division courts after clearing the Judicial Services Exam.


3 lakhs pa

Teaching at a law college or university.

Also check - Difference Between Lawyer and Advocate

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. Is attorney and advocate same?

Yes. While attorney is more commonly used in the US and UK, the term advocate is commonly used in India.

2. Who is called an attorney?

An attorney is a lawyer who can represent clients in a court of law.

3. Who is a lawyer?

A lawyer is anyone who has completed his or her legal studies (LLB/BA LLB) and obtained a law degree.


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