Jason Stephens | June 19, 2020 | Personal Injury
For most people, there is not a difference between a lawyer and an attorney. In most cases, both lawyers and attorneys attended and graduated from an accredited law school. However, when you look more closely at the definitions of each word, you find a difference. An attorney can represent individuals in court, whereas a lawyer cannot.
Attorneys vs. Lawyers – Which Should You Choose?
If you are looking for help with a car accident case or a workers’ compensation claim, do you want someone who is an attorney or a lawyer? In most cases, it does not matter because the words are used in the United States interchangeably.
However, strictly speaking, lawyers cannot represent clients in court. Even though a lawyer has the same legal education as an attorney, a lawyer is not admitted to practice law.
By definition, a lawyer is trained in the area of law. In the United States, a lawyer generally holds a degree from a law school.
On the other hand, attorneys are lawyers who have passed the bar examination and are admitted to practice in one or more states. Attorneys can represent clients in court and other legal matters.
For example, if you need an attorney to represent you in a wrongful death case in Texas, you need a lawyer who has passed the Texas bar examination and is licensed to practice law in Texas. More specifically, you want an attorney who has experience representing clients in wrongful death cases.
Many attorneys choose to practice in a specific area of law. For instance, some attorneys may practice bankruptcy law or criminal law. Other attorneys may decide to limit their practice to personal injury cases, such as truck accidents, brain injuries, and oil & gas field injuries.
Hiring an attorney that practices in the specific area of law that applies to your case gives you a better chance of winning your case. The attorney has gained experience, skills, and resources by handling cases similar to your case.
What is the bottom line? You can choose an attorney or a lawyer because most law firms use the terms interchangeably.
However, verify with the lawyer that he or she is licensed and admitted to practice in Texas. If so, the choice of a lawyer to handle your case depends on other important criteria.
How Can A Lawyer Help Me With My Case?
Lawyers understand that law. They understand the legal elements required to prove a claim. They also understand the rules of court and evidence.
Investigating an accident claim or injury claim can be overwhelming, especially if you are recovering from severe injuries. Attorneys have resources and tools for investigating claims. They also have a staff to assist them with the investigation.
Dealing with insurance companies and claims adjusters can also be challenging after an injury. Claims adjusters may pressure you to settle your claim early in the case. They use this tactic to avoid paying the full value of your claim.
Your lawyer protects you from aggressive insurance tactics and bad faith insurance policies.
While you focus on your recovery, your lawyer focuses on building a strong case for fault and liability against the person who caused your injury. Your attorney works with you and your medical providers to document your injuries and damages to maximize recovery.
Your attorney also calculates the value of a personal injury claim. There is not a formula you can use to determine the value of an injury claim. Lawyers understand how to use the facts and evidence in a case to calculate the maximum value of the claim.
What To Look for When Choosing an Attorney
When you search for a lawyer to handle your case, keep in mind these questions:
- Is the attorney licensed to practice in Texas?
- What is the attorney’s success rate?
- Does the attorney handle cases similar to your case?
- Is the attorney willing to go to court if necessary to protect your best interests?
- What percentage of cases does the lawyer settle versus going to court?
- How does the lawyer structure his fees and costs? Does the attorney accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis?
- Do you feel comfortable talking to the attorney? Does the attorney answer your questions and listen to you?
- Does the lawyer have positive reviews and references?
- Will your case be managed by the attorney or will it be given to a junior associate or a paralegal to manage?
It can be helpful to interview several attorneys. Avoid making a decision to hire an attorney on the spot. Take some time to compare the attorneys and decide which attorney makes you feel the most comfortable with your decision to hire a lawyer.