Difference Between Lawyer and Advocate: Explore the Key Distinctions and Roles in the Legal Profession

December 21, 2023
difference between lawyer and advocate

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Do you wonder about the difference between lawyer and advocate? Language can be confusing at times, but that’s natural. After all, human civilizations are as complex as the languages they employ.

Specific technical terms in every field of study are often used interchangeably, even though they mean different things. For example, consider the words pills and tablets. Both terms are used interchangeably. However, they mean different things. All pills are tablets, but not all tablets are pills. Pills are round oral medicines. Tablets can be of any shape.

Anyone in the legal profession is known as a lawyer. On the other hand, Advocate is a term used for a person who is qualified to represent someone in a court of law. For those outside the field of law, the advocate and lawyer difference can be a bit hard to grasp as it is very nuanced. So, let’s get into the details of it all.

Who is a Lawyer?

The word “counsel” is used to refer to a lawyer, a barrister, or an advocate. Any person associated with the field of law can be called a lawyer. Even law students having a law degree can be called lawyers. Lawyers usually have little experience as compared to Advocates because more often than not, they’re fresh graduates.

Related: How to Become a Lawyer?

Who is an Advocate?

According to most dictionaries, an advocate is a qualified individual who can represent their client in a court of law. Their scope of responsibilities and duties is more than lawyers. They can publicly advocate a cause or a policy.

They can put forward cases on behalf of other individuals or institutions. After that, they can plead for them in a professional capacity. They can speak on behalf of their client. Most important of all – only an advocate can represent someone in a court of law.

To become an advocate in India, one must pass the All India Bar Exam. Once a lawyer or a law student clears the bar exam, they become eligible to represent clients in a court of law. Then, they can refer to themselves as advocates.

Generally, advocates tend to be more experienced as it often takes time for a lot of lawyers to clear the bar exam.

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Difference Between a Lawyer and an Advocate

Here are some differences to clarify the nuances of lawyer vs advocate:

Anyone qualified to be associated with the field of law is called a lawyer.Advocates are those who are qualified to represent their clients in a court of law.
Lawyers can generally advise clients, but they cannot speak for them in a court of law or plead their case.Advocates tend to be more experienced and have a greater scope of duties and responsibilities.
In India, all you need to do to become a lawyer is get a law degree.One has to pass the All India Bar Exam to be qualified as an advocate. Lawyers usually take this exam after getting a law degree.
As they can only advise their clients, the fee of lawyers is usually very low. This is also due to a lack of experience.Advocates tend to be expensive as they have a vast array of knowledge and responsibilities. More often than not, they are also more experienced than lawyers.
People who seek legal advice to come to a certain decision often go to lawyers, as they are affordable.Example: an individual might want to ascertain whether they should sue another individual or not. For this, they can seek the advice of a lawyer.For serious cases or trials, people often seek advocates who can represent them in a court of law.
Lawyers who are not advocates, do not have a license to practice lawAnother factor that identifies an advocate is their license. Advocates need a license to practice law.
All Lawyers are not advocatesAll advocates are lawyers
Lawyers are more in number and they often transition into other fields as well – teaching, research, etc.Advocates are limited in number and they usually practice law.

Law Courses in India

In most scenarios, lawyers and advocates work together as a team. An advocate might have law students as their assistants to help them with tangential tasks such as paperwork. For advocates, lawyers who have not yet passed the All India Bar Exam are like interns. Many firms employ advocates as well as lawyers, and function as a cohesive unit.

There are many great law courses in India. You can either opt for a 3-year course or a 5-year course. In the end, to become an advocate, you must have ample knowledge and experience. One way is to get a law degree and then intern with an advocate for some time to learn the ropes. After that, you can take the bar exam and start your practice. Law is like any other profession. With more hands-on experience combined with theoretical knowledge, you can have a very successful career.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a lawyer and an advocate?

A lawyer may or may not be an advocate. All advocates are lawyers. Advocates get licenses to practice law. Lawyers can only advise their clients.

Which is the best – a lawyer or an advocate?

For serious cases and trials, advocates should be preferred as they have more knowledge and can plead your case. If you’re only looking for some advice, a lawyer who doesn’t have a license can also help you.

Which study is best for an advocate?

In the end, to become an advocate in India, you have to pass the bar exam. Before that, you can choose to study a 3-year LLB course or a 5-year BBA LLB or BA LLB course.

Can a law student be called a lawyer?

Yes, any law student who holds a degree can be called a law student.

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