Attorney or lawyer

The term ‘lawyer’ is often used to refer to a broad spectrum of legal professionals. Generally speaking, though, a lawyer is anyone who has been trained in law. Anyone who has attended law school, and attained anLLB (Bachelor of Laws) degree, is a lawyer.
What this means is that if you are only a lawyer, without any additional qualifications or professional designations, you cannot represent a client in a court of law. What your legal training does qualify you for is acting as a legal consultant or policy advisor, or giving legal advice.
To become an attorney, you first need to complete your theoretical legal training (i.e. your LLB degree). You can then do your articles (a form of internship) with a practicing attorney for a specific period of time. Once you finish your articles, you need to write a Board Exam. If you pass, you can apply to the High Court to be admitted as an attorney.
An attorney can specialise as a conveyancer, patent attorney, litigator, and more. He or she can, in certain circumstances, represent clients in a court of law. While all attorneys can be referred to as lawyers, all lawyers are not necessarily attorneys.
An advocate is a specialist lawyer who represents clients in a court of law. Unlike an attorney, an advocate does not deal directly with the client – the attorney refers the client to an advocate when the situation requires it. While attorneys can only represent clients in the lower courts in South Africa, advocates can appear on behalf of clients in the higher courts as well.
To become an advocate, one has tobecome a member of the General Council of the Bar.
As neatly as the different roles are set out here, in reality it can become somewhat confusing. This is largely due to the fact that the differences are often technical, and professional duties can overlap in practice​.Another source of confusion is that in different countries there are not only different rules for entering the different professions, but also different titles.
In the United States, these two terms are often used interchangeably. The dictionary definitions are broad enough to support this usage.
Personally, I define “lawyer” as anyone who has a Juris Doctor degree (what used to be the “Bachelors in Law” degree). That’s the standard degree for practicing law in the United States. (Foreign lawyers who want to practice in the U.S. get a “Masters in Law” degree — they of course are lawyers too.)
Some J.D.s never take or pass the bar exam, meaning they may not practice law. In my view, they are still lawyers.
I define an “attorney” as anyone who represents someone else in a legal matter. Thus, there are non-lawyers who act as “attorneys-in-fact” for limited legal purposes, such as signing documents. Same with non-lawyers who are given “power of attorney” for a particular matter.
An “attorney-at-law” would be the same thing as a “lawyer,” but the term “attorney” by itself encompasses lawyers and non-lawyers. That’s my view, anyway.