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January 03, 2004

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dudelette

I was told that the difference between a lawyer and an attorney was that you could only be a lawyer if you had gone to law school and were admitted to the bar, but you could be an attorney as long as you represented another person in a legal manner. A power of attorney may be created with the oversight of an elderly or incompetent person going to that person's child or close relative. The relative, by representing the elderly or incompetent person, becomes an attorney. However, that relative is certainly not a lawyer.

Jeff

Thank goodness. There are two many lawyers already.

Jeff

With a typo like the above, I certainly wouldn't qualify to be lawyer anyway.

boyrobot

I've covered this one on my own blawg(s) a long time ago. Guess I'm one of those kooks who's a lawyer, but not an attorney.

Black's Law Dictionary defined (or used to define) "lawyer" as: "One skilled and trained in the law." In its most basic rendition, this means having studied law to a point where you have a certain level of skill in it, and today that generally means graduating from an accredited law school and passing the bar (in the old days, in Texas for example, you apprenticed under an attorney for awhile to earn your own stripes). An attorney, OTOH, is a lawyer who is licensed to practice in a particular jurisdiction, and it is generally a relationship vis-a-vis a client.

It's historically been the same with doctors, but I'll agree that most people, lawyers and doctors included, seldom make these distinctions in everyday life. A "doctor" has graduated from medical school. A "physician" is a doctor who is licensed to practice in a particular state, and the role of "physician" is always with respect to a "patient".

Distinction without a difference? Well, for one thing, you can be a lawyer (or attorney) and be your own client. In my case, however, I was one of the top students at a difficult law school, Pierce Law, which specializes in Patents and Intellectual Property Law, I passed the bar exam, and under special motions represented a few clients before the IRS and in state courts. But after I passed the bar, I was called in by a little entity called "The Character and Fitness Committee", and, based on a bare allegation of smoking pot while teaching at a ski academy (to pay rent while studying for the bar), no arrest or anything, mind you, they caved in to political pressure (the snitch was from a social-register type family), and they ruled me morally unfit to practice law. Took several years and several stages of appeal, and The Supremes eventually denied cert., but I have a complete record of all the incredible mistakes and intentional delay tactics, prejudice, etc. -- upshot: I didn't win the case, but anyone with half a brain can assay exactly how screwed-up they were (to give but one example, at the state supreme court level, the chief justice and an associate justice were impeached and/or driven out of office for corruption (Justice David Brock and Associate Justice Stephen Thayer) not long after "hearing" my case, as reported by CNN etc.

So in a way, I view this question as the old "Does a tree make a sound if it falls in the forest, but nobody hears it?" I consider myself a lawyer on the basis of the Black's Law definition; I generally comport myself in all business dealings and general affairs as you would expect a lawyer to -- i.e. "I'm my own client every day." On the basis of my work on my own cases, plus a few for other folks back in law schoool, passing the bar, etc. I could be considered an attorney in that I should have been licensed, but wasn't. Yeah, I know, if the authorities don't accept you, you're not a member of the club. But what about a case like mine, where those who are sworn to apply the law to your case were corrupt, tried to shaft you, and kept trying to sweep it under the rug (all documented)?

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