General Counsel, Take 3

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Tue Feb 10 16:57:54 UTC 2004

Quoting Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>:

> On Tue, 10 Feb 2004, Geoff Nathan wrote:
> > deliberate terminological intention.  According to him, 'Counsellors'
> spend
> > most of their time advising the University, while lawyers spend their time
> > in courtrooms.  Since most of what he does involves consulting on what
> > might or might not be legal, rather than preparing for trial, he says, he
> > is a 'counsellor', not a 'lawyer.'
> I don't think this makes much sense, as the word "lawyer" is very widely
> used for hundreds of thousands of people who spend no time in court.
> Fred Shapiro

Yes, especially since the technical distinction (not widely observed in general
usage) is:

lawyer: one who has been admitted to the bar

counselor: one who advises another, both in and out of court, not necessarily a
lawyer (but in practice almost always is)

counselor-at-law: a counselor who is also a lawyer

attorney: one who has the authority to act on another's behalf, again not
necessarily a lawyer

attorney-at-law: an attorney who is also a lawyer

In general usage, they are all synonyms.

Dave Wilton
dave at

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