Attorney Vs Lawyer – How Do You Know?
What is the difference between a court-appointed attorney vs. a personal-initiated attorney? There’s a big difference between a court-appointed attorney vs. a personal-initiated attorney, but this difference alone means many to state bar associations, particularly when it comes to and looking into and prosecuting illegal practicing of law.
An attorney is, by definition, an advocate – that is, someone who acts on behalf of a person or a party in a legal proceeding. A lawyer is not necessarily an advocate of one side of the spectrum or another, even if they work for a law firm or have legal experience with the court system.
Court-appointed lawyers, however, represent a specific party and their attorneys are attorneys – that is, their profession is an attempt to practice law and their primary profession is representing someone (typically a client) in court. An attorney, therefore, is simply someone who is attempting to do something: either practice law or make money.
Private investigators are not “lawyers” at all; nor, as most people assume, are they attorneys. They are professionals who investigate, collect information, and compile this information in an effort to help a client get justice. The reason they are “lawyers,” however, is because they are working as legal advocates in courts or trying to obtain justice through other means. That, of course, is exactly what a private investigator is not.
In addition to not being attorneys, a private investigator vs. lawyer does not have the same professional training or licensing as one would have if they were employed by a law firm. These professionals, by definition, are not in a position to advise or counsel individuals about how to handle their legal issues and should not be expected to.
Private investigators are not licensed to practice law and cannot, under any circumstances, be considered an “attorney” (including, in some states, to assist or represent a client in any way). Their only responsibility is to gather information about the person(s) they are investigating and use that information to provide that information to the client. When investigating a private individual, they may talk to the person(s) they are investigating, but should not ask questions directly about matters that are privileged.
As a general rule, a private investigator cannot tell the client anything about the legal process itself or about the legal system. (a client is entitled to certain confidential information, not divulging that information to an untrustworthy third party).
So, to answer your question, is there a difference between a court-appointed attorney vs. private investigator vs. lawyer? A personal-initiated attorney vs. private investigator vs. lawyer will be the most appropriate answer when you are trying to decide whether to retain the services of one of these professionals.
A court-appointed attorney is someone who has been assigned by the court (such as a judge or a district attorney) as a representative of the client in an ongoing legal proceeding. This individual serves as counsel to the client at court proceedings. At any time the client may request assistance from the attorney, they may do so either directly or through a referral from the other party.
A private investigator, on the other hand, is someone who is employed by a private firm and is employed exclusively by the private firm to investigate. Their services are only rendered if the client has requested them.
Private investigators are paid by the case or investigation, which allows for more flexibility in billing and reimbursement. than attorneys with a court-appointed mandate, who are bound to a set amount of fees by the court.
When an investigator is hired to find relevant records related to a case, such as phone records, documents and financial reports, then they are typically paid by the hour. If a private investigator is hired by a private firm to do a case review and provide additional information regarding a client’s background, then they are paid an hourly fee.
Because of this difference, it would be extremely misleading for a private investigator to refer to them as “lawyer”attorney.” In fact, they are not attorneys and therefore cannot advise or counsel someone in a court-appointed capacity. They can only act in a role similar to a private detective; which is to gather information and conduct interviews on behalf of the client, providing information to the client regarding any information they are legally allowed to share with the client’s lawyers. When a private investigator collects information related to a case, they are not acting as a lawyer; they are acting on behalf of the client, and not in their own behalf.