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.