If you are charged with a drug crime, assault, DUI, or another criminal offense, you want to ensure that you hire the right lawyer to handle your case. However, when you search online for a criminal defense attorney, you notice that some law firms refer to themselves as “attorneys” while other law firms refer to themselves as “lawyers.” 

So – is there a difference between lawyer and attorney?

Lawyer vs. Attorney – What Do You Need to Know?

The traditional definition of lawyer and attorney are different. Generally, a lawyer is a person who attended and graduated law school with a law degree. An attorney is a person with a law degree who has been admitted to practice law after passing a state bar examination. 

So, all attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. Technically speaking, at least.

However, it’s common for these two terms to be used interchangeably today. Individuals admitted to practice law refer to themselves as lawyers and attorneys. As long as the person has passed the Kentucky bar examination and is in good standing to practice law in Kentucky, it does not matter whether they call themselves an attorney or a lawyer. 

Unauthorized Practice of Law in Kentucky

Under Kentucky laws, a person is guilty of the unauthorized practice of law if they provide legal services without a license. The unlawful practice of law is a Class B misdemeanor in Kentucky. 

If you need to hire a lawyer, you can check to see if the lawyer is in good standing with the bar through the Kentucky Bar Association. Searching by name, you can check to see when the attorney was admitted to practice and the attorney’s status. You can also check to see if there is a public discipline history.

How Do I Find a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Searching for an attorney online is one of the most common ways that individuals look for an attorney. However, you can also ask friends and family members for recommendations. If you know an attorney, ask that attorney who he would call if he or a family member needed a criminal defense attorney.

Some of the factors you want to consider when hiring a criminal defense lawyer include:

  • What type of law does the attorney practice?
  • How many years of experience does the attorney have handling criminal cases?
  • Is the attorney local?
  • What is the attorney’s success rate?
  • How much does the attorney charge for services?
  • How often does the attorney go to court versus accepting plea agreements?

In most cases, it is best to hire a local attorney. Local attorneys are familiar with the courts, judges, and prosecutors that will be relevant to your case. They have established relationships with law enforcement offices and know what to expect in certain cases.

You also want to hire an attorney who has experience handling cases similar to your case. For example, if you face homicide charges, you do not want an attorney who only handles theft crimes or weapons charges. You need your lawyer to have considerable knowledge about the area of law that applies in your case.

In addition to the above questions, ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the attorney. You need to trust your attorney and be able to tell your attorney everything about your case. If you do not feel comfortable talking to the lawyer, it could negatively impact your case.