A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain stability, and deliver justice. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services.
The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and therefore can be treated here in only the most general terms. More information is available in country-specific articles (see below).
In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.
In Australia, the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barristers and solicitors (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel) but not people who do not practice the law.
In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec. Common law lawyers in Canada may also be known as "barristers and solicitors", but should not be referred to as "attorneys", since that term has a different meaning in Canadian usage. However, in Quebec, civil law advocates (or avocats in French) often call themselves "attorney" and sometimes "barrister and solicitor".
In England, "lawyer" is used loosely to refer to a broad variety of law-trained persons. It includes practitioners such as barristers, solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers; and people who are involved with the law but do not practise it on behalf of individual clients, such as judges, court clerks, and drafters of legislation.
In India, the term "lawyer" is often colloquially used, but the official term is "advocate" as prescribed under the Advocates Act, 1961.
In Scotland, the word "lawyer" refers to a more specific group of legally trained people. It specifically includes advocates and solicitors. In a generic sense, it may also include judges and law-trained support staff.
In the United States, the term generally refers to attorneys who may practice law; it is never used to refer to patent agents or paralegals.Other nations tend to have comparable terms for the analogous concept.
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