Lawyers vs Advocates: Differences and Similarities

While both these kinds are fit, if not over-qualified, to be represented in the Avengers or maybe the ‘JUSTICE’ league, unlike the works of fiction, these men actually do harbour some interesting powers. Being part of the same team, they reign supreme over identical but different spaces. So, you are not alone to think of them to be the same, and you are also not alone to be curious to learn the same by rolling through this scroll of truth.

Functionality: Offices and courts

Advocates are like generals while Lawyers are like the envoys in the legal universe. Advocates practice the art of advocacy in the courtrooms. They move and shape the legal opinion in the court. They argue, make submissions, move petitions and occasionally run around public offices to fetch such results that favour their clients. Lawyers, on the other hand, are like Professor X (Charles Xavier) from the X-Men – They don’t move much relatively, yet do as much if not more. They may be found in and around law firms and business forums. They offer dispute resolution services thanks to their mind which houses most, if not all, expertise over their choice of legal subject. IP, Contracts, Corporate etc are some tags that may be found associated with their name. So even though they have got their degree from law school, yet they look pretty similar to any corporate employees. Also, it is important to note that you can’t hire a lawyer as your employee. They are professionals so they offer their service and are paid for that instead of being on a payroll.

Attire: Black Batman and Colourful Superman

In this tropical subcontinent, even Batman wouldn’t dare continue sporting his iconic caped attire. We could imagine him being busy rescuing people collapsing out in the sun. But we are Indians. Our battle against the sun is nostalgia-inducing thanks to our school parades. Unlike the popular myth, not all legal practitioners sit in AC lounges, nor do all of them travel in German sedans. Advocates sport the iconic black suit in courtrooms as per the dress code prescribed by the Bar Council of India, the body governing legal practice and education in India. However, Lawyers, do not practice in courtrooms. Hence, someday, thanks to climate change, one may even find them rescuing a client in the dhoti. If not the system, at least the fashion should be of local origin. So basically it’s the advocates that you see will necessarily have to be in their attire of a white shirt, black trousers, white bow and black suit or labada.

Qualification: Tools and Equipment

The recipe to make any legal practitioner in India is fairly identical. Take 5 years – 6 years, should you choose the classic way, stir them as you do so along with 10 semesters, pour in some number of internships and apprenticeships (a lot actually), add some academic publications to suit your taste, mix them all together – This mixture is your “Lawyer”.

For “Advocate”, follow along further – Then, put what you now have through the procedure of enrolment into any of the State Bar Council of your choice. Voila! What you have now is an Advocate. Now, to make it stand the test of time (as this enrolment is valid only for two years), you push it through the All India Bar Examination (AIBE). If and only if you have followed all the foregoing steps meticulously, you have now managed to ace the AIBE and with that, you must now be fit for the glorious Certificate of Practice. So you must know that it doesn’t come easy and especially in the profession of law, you have to keep studying to practice permanently and may have to even give an exam like in this case.

Domain of work: the Business

Tony Stark is always on duty – be it working in his lab or be it in his iconic red armour teaching the bad guys the law. A Lawyer works like Tony in his lab. To provide legal advice, to draft and negotiate contracts and deals for the clients, to conduct legal research – often browsing through either the book pages or web pages, to know the ins and outs of varied areas of law, to work with clients assisting them in dispute resolutions, to shield and advance the interests clients, is to be a Lawyer. While the Advocate, more often than not, looks after the courtroom business. Be it the lower courts, or the highest of court, be it tribunals or quasi-judicial bodies or filing a bail application, only advocates are qualified to represent and make a case on behalf of someone.


They are like Clark Kent and Superman, just the same yet different. The next time you find an Advocate or a Lawyer, you will know the difference between these two, even though it’s not much but still, they are different and if you like to pursue this as your career then choose the superhero of your liking and you will know which direction to go. 

Shreyas Jain

About Author

Mr. Shreyas Jain is an Advocate registered with the Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa, and has his elaborate practice in criminal and civil matters at Mumbai & Thane Courts. Adv. Jain, a first-generation lawyer and a forever student of law, believes that providing FREE Practical Legal Knowledge to every citizen of this country is the need of the hour. You may reach him at +91 7054407778

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