Victor C. Hawk | September 24, 2021 | Personal Injury
If you’re injured, some may have advised you to find a lawyer. Others may have recommended getting an attorney.
You may wonder if there is a difference between the two. Naturally, you want to hire the professional that is most qualified to provide you with representation. Today, there is no difference between lawyers and attorneys.
This guide will help you better understand the topic.
Difference between JDs and Lawyers/Attorneys
Not everyone who earns a law degree goes on to become an attorney. Sometimes, a person may obtain a juris doctor but never seek a license to practice law. They may work in compliance roles, investigative positions, research jobs, or roles that have little to do with law.
However, to be considered an attorney, one must possess certain qualifications. If they don’t, they cannot represent clients in court or otherwise engage in the practice of law.
Obtaining Licensure in GA
The Georgia Office of Bar Admissions regulates admissions to the practice law in Georgia. To earn the title of attorney in Georgia, a law school graduate must first complete a character and fitness application with the Bar. The Bar uses these applications as a sort of background check to ensure the applicant does not have a dubious ethical history. The Bar may deny an applicant’s application if they have a serious criminal history (especially crimes of dishonesty) or other ethical red flags that could cast doubt on the person’s trustworthiness.
Next, an applicant must pass the bar exam. Upon passing the bar exam, an attorney will usually be granted admission to the Bar. This admission/license allows an attorney to practice law and represent clients in court.
Someone who is qualified to practice law in another state may not have to take the bar exam in Georgia to receive admission to practice. They can file what is called an “Admission on Motion.” If they meet certain requirements, they may be permitted to practice law here.
The Consequences of Practicing Law Without a License in Georgia
Licensing requirements for attorneys are strict. Attorneys play extremely important roles in the lives of their clients and society in general. It’s critical that everyone with the title “attorney at law” be prepared to offer clients the representation they deserve.
The Bar is the solution to this problem. It monitors and regulates attorney conduct, ensuring that the state’s lawyers meet the high ethical standards for the profession. Moreover, it prosecutes non-lawyers who are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law to protect the public.
Practicing law without a license in Georgia can come with severe consequences. At the very least, someone found guilty of practicing law without a license will be guilty of committing a misdemeanor. They may also face fines, prison time, restitution requirements, and probation.
Choosing an Attorney in Georgia
If you need legal representation, you should work with a licensed, ethical attorney. The State Bar of Georgia has a database where you can look for lawyers by name, region, or practice area. This database will show you whether an attorney has an active license in Georgia and whether they have ever been subject to discipline by the Bar.
For example, maybe you’re filing a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation after being involved in a car accident. If so, you want to find a licensed personal injury attorney who represents car accident victims.
On the other hand, if you’re facing criminal charges, you need a criminal defense attorney. Be aware that some attorneys are qualified to serve as both personal injury attorneys and criminal defense attorneys.