Lawyer Vs. Advocate: Key Differences And Similarities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you are considering a career in law, you might wonder about the roles of lawyer vs. advocate. While lawyers are professionals with a law degree, an advocate is a special type of lawyer responsible for standing in court and representing a client. Learning about these two career paths can help you identify which role might be the right choice for you. In this article, we define lawyer and advocate, discuss their differences, including their responsibilities and educational requirements required to enter these professions and explore the similarities between the two professions.

Definition Of Lawyer Vs. Advocate

The primary difference between the responsibilities and duties of a lawyer vs. advocate is that a lawyer has less experience and might not represent clients in courts. Comparatively, advocates are more qualified in legal matters and can represent their clients. It is essential to compare a lawyer and an advocate to help you determine which career is appropriate for you:

What is a lawyer?

The term lawyer is a general term used by anyone with a legal background who has attended law school. It is an umbrella term that covers anyone who pursues or practices law. A lawyer is anyone who has just completed their legal studies or is currently pursuing their studies. Many other titles of a lawyer might include solicitor, attorney or barrister. All these are lawyers but specialists in their respective fields.

Typically, lawyers have less experience but have yet to gain the experience required to specialise in a specific area of law. They are adept at giving legal advice to their client but might not represent their clients in court. With experience, a lawyer advances into higher positions and might witness a higher salary.

Related: How To Become A Corporate Lawyer: A Complete Guide

What is an advocate?

An advocate is a legal and qualified professional representing their client in court for compensation, depending on the nature of the court case. Advocates provide helpful resources and materials to assist them in creating a strong case. These professionals use their law knowledge to help clients manage and understand legal issues. While arguing on their behalf, advocates try to get a suitable decision or verdict for their clients. Advocates can either handle or manage civil matters, such as disputes between two clients or criminal matters.

When compared to lawyers, these professionals are more experienced and practise their profession in many legal domains. Because of their skills and knowledge, these professionals receive a good salary.

Related: Attorney Vs. Lawyer: Definition And Fundamental Differences

Key Differences Between Lawyer Vs. Advocate

Here are some key differences between a lawyer and an advocate:

Responsibilities

Lawyers use their knowledge to help clients understand and navigate legal matters. While their job responsibility might vary depending on the area of expertise, most lawyers perform the following duties:

  • Attend trials and hearings with clients

  • Collaborate with police and investigators to build a strong case for court trials

  • Review a case and provide legal options to clients

  • Present arguments in favour of a client in front of judges

  • Gather and arrange facts and legal papers

  • Organise and preserve papers in computerised and paper file systems

  • Schedule interviews, assessments and meetings with clients and case witnesses

  • Conduct legal research and gather evidence

  • Draft, review and manage wills, estate and trusts and deeds

  • Manage and oversee legal and paralegal assistants

In comparison, advocates are professionals who help organisations and individuals understand their legal issues using their knowledge of the law. Some common job duties of a lawyer are:

  • Assist police and investigator with their investigation and prepare trials and other proceedings.

  • Notify authorities on complaints against court officials to ensure efficiency in the legal system

  • Educate and train lawyers and conduct necessary legal research

  • Observe court etiquette and proper conduct with colleagues and opponents

  • Conduct extensive research concerning the case at hand

  • Provide the court with documents and evidence required to reach a conclusion

  • Scrutinise and draft contracts for clients

  • Attend court sessions when the legal dispute between the two parties remains unsettled

Related: Types Of Lawyer Careers: Descriptions, Skills And Salaries

Educational qualification

Pursuing a Bachelor of Legislative Law (LLB) is the primary qualification required to become a lawyer. It is a three-year undergraduate course and requires a candidate to complete their 10+2 in any field. Candidates can gain admission in an LLB course after clearing an entrance exam. An LLB programme covers subjects like family law, criminal law, corporate law and cyber law. Even advocates require an LLB degree.

It is essential for both lawyers and advocates to enroll in a state bar council and clear the All India Bar Exam. After clearing this exam, these professionals enroll in a state bar council to represent clients at court proceedings to become an advocate.

Related: How To Become A Lawyer: A Complete Guide With FAQs

Specialisation

While attending a law school or after graduating from one, most lawyers and advocates choose to specialise in an area of the law. When practicing, individuals can provide legal advice and support in any specialisation they choose. Some of the popular specialisations of advocates include:

  • Senior advocate

  • Junior advocate

Some popular specialisations for lawyers are:

  • Real estate lawyer

  • Family lawyer

  • Criminal lawyer

  • General lawyer

  • Corporate and business lawyer

  • Bankruptcy lawyer

  • Civil rights lawyer

  • Immigration lawyer

  • Labour and employment lawyer

  • Personal injury lawyer

Although a law school provides a general overview of every area of law. These professionals undergo additional training and education in their area of focus and interest to gain more experience and develop a specific knowledge base.

Related: What Is A Civil Lawyer? A Complete Guide

Similarities Between Lawyer And Advocate

Here are a few similarities between a lawyer and an advocate:

Skills

These two requires the following skills to excel in their job role:

Communication skills

Advocates and lawyers require excellent communication skills to take a clear, concise and persuasive stance in court and with clients. Having excellent verbal communication skills is essential to argue persuasively and put their point before the court. As they create case papers to present in court, these professionals require written communication skills. These professionals can improve their skills through training, debates and online courses.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your English Communication Skills

Analytical skills

One of the essential components of law is the ability to collect and analyse complex data and simplify it into easily understandable language. Often, there is over one possible conclusion to a particular problem. Analysing different situations from different angles is essential to draw logical and analytical conclusions.

Related: How To Improve Analytical Skills (With Steps And Benefits)

Research skills

Lawyers and advocates perform research to reach logical conclusions and validate their arguments. Through their research, these professionals become aware of the change taking place in the legal field. For example, reading and analysing high court and supreme court cases provides a detailed understanding of the law and its application and implication. The ability to check multiple sources for proper information and research legal databases and information is essential.

Time management skills

Professionals in both these jobs require excellent time management skills to meet the courtroom and cases demanding deadlines. Often, they might handle more than one court case and they require managing their time efficiently. Superior time management skills allow these professionals to provide exceptional customer service to clients.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition And Examples

Work schedule

As highly paid professionals handling and managing serious matters for clients, advocates work long hours and can work during weekends or irregular hours. Advocates typically work during standard business hours, such as 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. or 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. A typical day of a lawyer is likely to coincide with the hours of an advocate, but they might work extra hours after the daily timings.

Which Is A Better Profession, A Lawyer Or An Advocate?

You can choose anyone from these two professions based on your experience. An advocate is a mid-level or senior position, whereas a lawyer is an entry-level profession. If you are a recent LLB graduate, look for a lawyer's job. You might be required to clear an examination to get your practice license. On the other hand, advocates are highly experienced professionals representing a client or organisation in legal matters. Typically, advocates receive a higher salary and perks than lawyers.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article is associated with Indeed.

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