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Lawyer vs Advocate: Difference Between Lawyer and Advocate

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25th Aug, 2023
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Lawyer vs Advocate: Difference Between Lawyer and Advocate

Lawyers and advocates play crucial roles within the legal system, advocating for justice and representing clients in legal matters. As legal professionals, they possess comprehensive knowledge of laws, regulations, and precedents and are adept at analysing complex legal issues. The primary difference between lawyer and advocate lies in their specialised roles within the legal system, with lawyers providing legal advice and advocates primarily representing clients in court proceedings.

Definition of Lawyer

A lawyer is a legal professional who has completed a formal education in law and obtained a degree in the field. They are licenced to practise law and provide legal advice and representation to individuals, businesses, organisations, and governments. Lawyers have in-depth knowledge of the law, including statutes, regulations, and legal precedents. They use this expertise to assist clients in various legal matters, such as drafting contracts, giving legal advice, negotiating settlements, and representing clients in court proceedings. 

Definition of Advocate

An advocate is a legal professional specialising in representing and defending their clients’ interests in legal proceedings, particularly in court. Advocates are trained to present arguments persuasively and effectively before judges and juries, aiming to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients. While “advocate” is commonly used in some legal systems, it may be synonymous with a “barrister” in countries following the British legal system. In other legal systems, “advocate” may refer to any legal professional practising law, including lawyers and attorneys. 

Definition of Barrister

A barrister is a legal professional, particularly in countries that follow the British legal system, such as England, Wales, Australia, and some other Commonwealth countries. Barristers are lawyers who specialise in advocacy and representation in court. They are usually experts in specific areas of law and are often engaged by solicitors or directly by clients to provide specialist legal advice and advocacy in court proceedings. Barristers typically wear distinctive black gowns and wigs when appearing in court. 

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What Is the Difference Between Lawyer and Advocate?

The lawyer and advocate difference lies primarily in their roles.

  1. Scope of practice: A lawyer is a general term for any legal professional who has completed law and is licensed to practise. Lawyers can work in various legal fields, including providing legal advice to individuals and organisations and drafting documents. Whereas, an advocate typically refers to a legal professional who specialises in courtroom advocacy and represents clients in court proceedings.
  2. Courtroom Representation: Lawyers may or may not represent clients in court, depending on their practice area. Advocates, however, have qualified for the requisite Bar Council Exam under the Advocates Act, 1961, which allows them to practice in any court of law. Their professional competence lies in arguing cases and presenting evidence before judges and juries.
  3. Legal System Variations: These terms’ usage and meaning can vary from country to country, depending on the legal system in place. In some countries, “advocate” may be synonymous with “lawyer,” In others, it may refer to a specific type of lawyer who focuses on courtroom representation.
  4. Professional Titles: In certain jurisdictions, “advocate” may be a formal title used for certain legal professionals, particularly those qualified to represent clients in higher courts. In other jurisdictions, the title “advocate” might not be used, and all legal professionals may be referred to as “lawyers” or “attorneys.”

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Similarities Between Lawyers And Advocates

Here are the fundamental similarities between a lawyer and an advocate:

  1. Legal Professionals: Both lawyers and advocates are legal professionals who have gained a law degree and the necessary qualifications to practise law. 
  2. Legal Knowledge: Both comprehensively understand laws, regulations, and legal precedents relevant to their practice areas.
  3. Client Representation: Both provide legal representation to clients. They offer advice, guidance, and advocacy on legal matters to protect their client’s rights and interests.
  4. Ethical Obligations: Lawyers and advocates are bound by professional codes of ethics and conduct. They must uphold high integrity, confidentiality, and customer loyalty standards while maintaining their duty to the court and the justice system.
  5. Legal Specialisation: Both lawyers and advocates often specialise in specific areas of law, such as criminal law, civil law, family law, corporate law, or intellectual property law, to better serve their clients’ needs.
  6. Advocacy Skills: While all lawyers may not exclusively focus on courtroom representation, advocates possess advocacy skills, enabling them to present arguments and negotiate on their clients’ behalf effectively.

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Lawyer vs Advocate vs Barrister

The difference between lawyer, advocate, and barrister lies in their roles within the legal system. The key differences are:

LawyerAdvocateBarrister
Studied law and is licenced to practiseAdvocates are lawyers who have passed the Bar Council Exam of India, allowing them to represent clients in court.Typically found in countries with a British-based legal system, like England and Wales.
Can work in various legal areas, including providing legal advice, drafting legal notices, deeds, wills and negotiating contractsSpecifically trained and primarily engaged to argue cases and present evidence before judges and juries.Specialise in representing clients in court and arguing their case before a judge and jury. Experts in specific areas of law, barristers are often engaged by solicitors or clients to provide specialist legal advice and advocacy in court proceedings.
Often hired as a legal adviser, in-house legal counsellor to corporates and organisations and consultants.Specialises in courtroom advocacy and representing clients in court proceedingsWear distinctive black gowns and wigs when appearing in court.

Understanding the lawyer, advocate, barrister difference is crucial for comprehending the varied roles and specialisations within the legal profession.

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Steps to Become an Indian Lawyer

To become a lawyer in India, follow these steps:

  1. Educational Qualification: Obtain a Bachelor’s degree in law (LL.B) from a recognised university. This is typically a three-year course for graduates and a five-year course for students who pursue law after 12th grade.
  2. Entrance Exam: After completing the LL.B., clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) conducted by the Bar Council of India. Passing this exam is mandatory for practising law in India.
  3. Enrol with State Bar Council: After passing the AIBE, register with the State Bar Council where you intend to practise law. You will be issued a “Certificate of Practice.”
  4. Optional Specialisation: Pursue a Master’s degree (LL.M.) for specialised knowledge in a particular area of law.
  5. Training: Undergo practical training by working as an intern or associate with senior lawyers or law firms.
  6. Practice: After completing the above steps, you can start practising law independently or with a law firm and offer legal counsel to clients.

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How Can One Become an Advocate In India?

To become an advocate in India, follow these steps:

  1. Educational Qualification: Obtain a Bachelor’s degree in law (LL.B.) from a recognised university. You can pursue a three-year LL.B. course after graduation or a five-year integrated course after 12th grade.
  2. Entrance Exam: Some universities and states may require you to clear the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) or state-specific entrance exams for admission to law schools.
  3. LL.B. Degree: Complete the LL.B. course, which includes various law subjects.
  4. Enrolment with Bar Council: Apply for enrolment with the State Bar Council in the state where you wish to practise law. Submit the necessary documents, including educational certificates, enrolment fees, and other required forms.
  5. AIBE Examination: After enrolment, clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) conducted by the Bar Council of India. Passing this exam is mandatory to practise law in India.
  6. Practise: Once you pass the AIBE, you can practise as an advocate in Indian courts, representing clients and handling legal cases.

How Does a Lawyer Become an Advocate?

In some legal systems, the terms “lawyer” and “advocate” are used interchangeably, and there may be no formal distinction between the two. However, assuming that “lawyer” refers to a legal professional who primarily provides legal advice and handles non-courtroom legal matters, and “advocate” refers to a legal professional who specialises in courtroom representation, the process of becoming an advocate typically involves the following steps:

  1. Education: Obtain a law degree (LL.B.) from a recognised university or law school.
  2. Practice Experience: Gain practical experience as a lawyer by providing legal advice, drafting legal documents, and handling non-litigation legal matters.
  3. Specialisation: Develop expertise in a specific area of law that interests you or aligns with your career goals.
  4. Training: Seek opportunities to gain courtroom experience, such as assisting senior advocates in court or participating in moot court competitions.
  5. AIBE Examination: Clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) or any other relevant bar examination to be eligible to practise as an advocate.
  6. Enrollment as an Advocate: Apply for enrolment with the State Bar Council as an advocate, which allows you to represent clients in court and engage in courtroom advocacy.

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Lawyer or Advocate — Which Is More Preferable?

The comparison between a lawyer and an advocate as better professions depends on individual preferences, career goals, and the legal system in which one practices.

Lawyers may find satisfaction in transactional work, corporate law, intellectual property, or family law. On the other hand, advocates may thrive in the excitement of courtroom advocacy, presenting arguments, and litigating cases.

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Ultimately, the better profession is subjective and depends on an individual’s passion, strengths, and career objectives within the context of the legal system in which they practise.

Conclusion

Both lawyers and advocates are integral to the legal profession, upholding justice and safeguarding the rights of individuals and entities. While the terms may vary in meaning across legal systems, lawyers generally encompass a broader range of legal work, including advisory roles and courtroom representation, whereas advocates specialise in courtroom advocacy. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Who is higher in rank, advocate or lawyer?

In some legal systems, there is no inherent rank difference between advocate and lawyer as the terms can be used interchangeably. However, barristers may be considered higher in rank due to their ability to practice in foreign courts.

2Can an advocate be called a lawyer?

Yes, in some legal systems, the term advocate can be used interchangeably with lawyer to refer to a legal professional licence to practise law and provide legal advice and representation to clients.

3What is the difference between lawyer, and advocate, and barrister?

The terms lawyer, advocate, and barrister are often used synonymously, but they have specific meanings differentiating their roles within the legal profession. A lawyer is a person who has studied law and earned a degree, an advocate is one who has passed the Bar Council Exam, and a barrister is a lawyer who has acquired a law degree from England.

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