Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Lawyer Definition:

An individual trained in the law and that has been certified to give legal advice or to represent others in litigation.

Related Terms: Lawyering, Barrister, Solicitor, Attorney, Notary, Advocate, Paralegal

"A barrister or solicitor. A person qualified to practice law. The term is used in everyday parlance to describe members of the legal profession.... (A) legal practitioner."1

Also known as an attorney although there is an ongoing debate in semantics as to whether there is any distinction to be made between the term lawyer and attorney. At least two cases of record have proposed that a lawyer is a person who gives legal advice but an attorney is one who has been retained to help a specific client:

"A lawyer is a person learned in the law or in the business of giving advice ... while an attorney is a lawyer who has been retained to assist a client."2

But other cases have stated that the terms lawyer and attorney are synonymous.3

In Re Page is most curious. Ignatius Page was disbarred but thereafter defiantly insisted on adding the word lawyer to his letters. The court held in contempt of court of the court that issued the disbarment order but note this in the judicial opinion:

"Page, in his answer, states: I usually type on the letters I type, after my name, the word Lawyer, with my address and date of the letter, but I have no letterheads, and I have no cards. I am a Lawyer, and I will be a Lawyer as long as I Live, and keep my right mind. Webster's Unabridged New International Dictionary, defines the "Word" Lawyer as One versed in the Laws......I, Ignatius Page, can not legally be punished for knowing the "Laws".

"When used in the manner herein shown and as alleged by Page, the words lawyer and attorney are synonymous, and hence any one advertising himself as a lawyer holds himself out to be an attorney, an attorney at law or counselor at law."

A picture of a very handsome and wise lawyer appears above.

Joseph Addison, writing in The Spectator, 1711, said this of lawyers and not without some truth:

"Men that hire out their words and anger; that are more or less passionate according as they are paid for it, and allow their client a quantity of wrath proportionate to the fee which they receive from him."


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