Am I a lawyer or attorney? (or counsel?)

Beyond the Underground has an interesting, and short, exploration of the uses of “attorney” versus “lawyer.”   In part:

According to Garner’s “Dictionary of Modern American Usage,” the two “are not generally distinguished even by members of the legal profession.”

Once upon a time, a lawyer was defined as a person who practices law, while an attorney was a lawyer with a client. So that in 1965, the author of “The Careful Writer” noted that “a lawyer is an attorney only when he has a client.” These days, such a distinction seems kooky. What lawyer doesn’t have a client?

Garner also mentions that “lawyer” might have negative connotations. But what about the prairie lawyer, Abraham Lincoln? Can you imagine “Lincoln: The Prairie Attorney”?

In this economy, I’m just glad to have a client, no matter what that client calls me.


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