PAY Attorney vs. Lawyer

The terms attorney and lawyer are often used interchangeably in the United States. There is very little distinction made between the two. This difficulty to differentiate is a result of the fact that in the United States, unlike in other countries, this distinction is not made. However, a slight one does exist.

What Qualifies Someone as a Lawyer?

A lawyer is someone who is learned and trained in  law. Yet, they may not actually practice law. They often give legal advice. By attending law school in the United States, one can be considered a lawyer. A student of law must pass the bar exam in their particular jurisdiction in order to practice law by providing legal representation. Otherwise, the opportunities to use their law education are limited.

What Qualifies Someone as an Attorney?

An attorney at law or attorney-at-law is typically abbreviated to attorney in everyday conversation. An attorney is considered the official name for a lawyer in the United States. The first known use of the term attorney-at-law was in 1768.

An attorney-at-law is defined as a practitioner in a court of law who is legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. The English word attorney has French origins, meaning “a person acting for another as an agent or deputy.” An attorney actually practices law in court whereas a lawyer may or may not. An attorney has passed the bar exam and has been approved to practice law in his jurisdiction.

Although the terms often operate as synonyms, an attorney is a lawyer but a lawyer is not necessarily an attorney. To the general public, these terms may be used interchangeably but to the American Bar Association, the slight distinction is significant.

Other Common Law Terms of Distinction

In other common law jurisdictions around the world such as England and Wales, more specific distinctions are drawn. There, they differentiate between those who practice law in court and those who do not by the use of terms such as solicitors, barristers, and advocates. In other countries, public notaries are also distinguished from attorneys.

A solicitor is a lawyer who deals with any legal matter. Typically, they don’t appear in court but prepare legal documents and work directly with clients providing legal advice. Historically, the term solicitor was used in the United States. It was referred to lawyers who handled cases in a court of equity. Whereas attorneys, at that time, only dealt with cases in a court of law.

On the other hand, barristers are called upon by solicitors if their case requires a court appearance. A barrister doesn’t work directly with clients but receives referrals from solicitors who are often retained by their clients. The solicitor will assist the barrister with all preparations for the case outside of court. Although this is not always the case, an advocate is another term for barrister in many English-law based jurisdictions.

The Professional Title Esquire ATTORNEY and LAWYER

An additional term used is esquire. It is employed at the end of an attorney’s name, abbreviated as Esq. Its purpose is to give an honorary title. Similar to the use of the abbreviations Dr. or Ph.D., it also signifies a professional title. Its origins are in England where the title was once reserved for males, as a term of respect for those of high social rank.

Esquire is a title one may tack on without the approval of the American Bar Association or any other legal entity. Therefore, it can be somewhat controversial. Some have added it to their names without having obtained the actual qualifications. This gives the false perception of their ability to legally practice law. Therefore, it serves to be cautious and not presumptuous when encountering this term.

Salaries for lawyers starting out at firms have remained flat, with an annual pay of $160,000 continuing to be the top of the market, according to a new survey from the National Association for Law Placement.

Some 39 percent of the largest firms — those with 700 lawyers or more — reported paying that amount in the association’s 2015 law associates’ salary survey. This was up from last year, when only 27 percent of the big firms reported paying their new legal hires at the uppermost level.

But the percentage was still below 2009, when nearly two-thirds of the first-year salaries were at the top point of $160,000.

The reason is not that individual firms are paying less, said James G. Leipold, executive director of National Association for Law Placement, but “as more law firms have grown through acquisition and merger, the largest law firms are not as similar to one another as they used to be.”

Mr. Leipold added that there were many firms with more than 700 lawyers that have many smaller regional offices, many of which don’t pay the benchmark first-year salary of $160,000. As a result, he added, “a larger percentage of large law firm starting salaries fall below that mark.” ATTORNEY and LAWYER

There are certainly exceptions, with some first-year associates making more than the $160,000 figure. But, for the most part, the ceiling seems to have been stuck at that amount since 2007, when some law firms began to increase starting salaries — a practice that soon began to wane as the economy turned down.

“The simple story is that $160,000 as a starting salary at large law firms is less prevalent than it was immediately prior to the recession,” Mr. Leipold explained. “At large law firms, starting salaries of $145,000 and $135,000, and even $110,000 are common in some markets, though $160,000 is still the dominant or modal salary in large markets.”

In the biggest legal markets — including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington — $160,000 is the most common salary at the largest firms that reported paying first years. Only about 60 percent of the largest firms with offices in Los Angeles and Washington said they paid the top amount now — a significant drop from 2009, when 90 percent of firms said they did so.

In New York, however, “the $160,000 starting salary is almost universal,” Mr. Leipold noted. About 85 percent of firms in the city with at least 250 lawyers are paying that amount; about 90 percent of firms with 700 or more lawyers paid first-year hires that amount. ATTORNEY and LAWYER

Of course, a newly minted lawyer still can take home more than the top salary: Even first-year lawyers are eligible for annual bonuses that can be in the tens of thousands of dollars at elite firms.

The association said 556 law offices from across the country responded to the survey. Over all, the national median first-year salary at firms of any size was $135,000. That is a rise of $10,000 since 2014, but the association said that fewer smaller firms responded this year than in previous years.

“Lawyers of the Year” are selected from the Best Lawyers list based on particularly impressive voting averages received during peer-review assessments. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, professionalism and integrity. Mr. Hymerling is also among a highly select group of attorneys who have been named to the Best Lawyers list every year since its inception in 1983.

During nearly four decades in practice concentrated in family law, Mr. Hymerling has guided more than a generation of clients through difficult personal and legal matters with expertise and compassion. Through his service on numerous committees appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court and his active membership in the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), Mr. Hymerling has played a pivotal role in shaping family law in New Jersey. He is a former Chair of the NJSBA’s Family Law section and has served on the section’s Executive Committee for more than 30 years. In addition, Mr. Hymerling was a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Family Part Practice Committee for more than two decades and served as Chair of its Committee on General Procedures and Rules, playing a major role in making recommendations later adopted by the Court. He also formerly served for nearly 15 years on the Court’s Disciplinary Review Board, including six years as Chair. Mr. Hymerling is admitted to practice solely in New Jersey.

A Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Mr. Hymerling is also a founder of New Jersey Family Lawyer magazine, where he served for almost two decades as its Editor-in-Chief and continues to serve as the publication’s Editor-in-Chief Emeritus.

Mr. Hymerling lives in Haddonfield with his wife, Rosie. ATTORNEY and LAWYER

Archer PC is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and nine offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Shrewsbury N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington and Georgetown, Del. The Firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for 85 years. Each  office  provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury and real estate services.


When evaluating a law firm as a place where you might want to work, it is important to understand the firm’s culture and environment. Archer’s recruiting process is geared towards identifying and attracting the most qualified candidates. While much of our recruiting is done through our Summer Associate Program, we also actively recruit third-year law students, judicial clerks, and lateral attorneys. The successful candidate possesses strong academic credentials, exceptional writing and analytical skills, as well as those traits which indicate an ability to appreciate and flourish in the collegial atmosphere that has long been a trademark of Archer.

Archer’s attorneys pride themselves on being skilled practitioners who work well with their colleagues and have fun doing it. We believe that associates deserve to work in an environment that enables them to pursue a fulfilling legal career while appreciating that people do, and should, have lives outside the office. Archer recognizes that our associates are the attorneys that will lead the firm in the future. Consequently, we strive to create an atmosphere where associates enjoy their jobs and want to stay to ensure Archer continues to be one of the region’s premiere law firms. ATTORNEY and LAWYER