What is the difference between an attorney, lawyer, solicitor, and barrister?

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A lawyer is a general term for someone in the United States who has graduated from law school and gives legal advice. A lawyer does not necessarily have to practice law. An attorney, or an attorney-at-law, is a lawyer who represents a client in courtroom matters, such as when pleading or arguing a case. In the United States, the terms lawyer and attorney are often used interchangeably, though there are some distinctions, noted above. A lawyer can use the word "esquire" after his or her name as an honorary title. A person can use this title without the approval of the American Bar Association, so some people use this name without the proper qualifications. 

In the United Kingdom, lawyers are divided into barristers and solicitors. A barrister, as the name suggests, can represent a client at the bar, meaning in court. Barristers often have areas in which they specialize, such as criminal law, chancery (trusts and estates), common law, and commercial law, among other areas. A solicitor, on the other hand, provides clients, who may be individuals, groups, or corporations, with legal advice. Solicitors work directly with clients and can provide them with representation in court in case of a dispute; however, they are more likely to refer the case to a barrister if it goes to court. 

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