In a prior post, we wondered whether Wurtzel, who has not yet passed the bar, can refer to herself as a “lawyer” (as she has done publicly on various occasions, most recently in an interview with Bitter Lawyer). In a comment to Gawker, Wurtzel advanced the theory that she can refer to herself as a “lawyer,” even if not an “attorney,” because “if you graduate from law school/receive a JD, you are a lawyer; if you are licensed, you are an attorney.”
For those of you who just took the bar, and who will receive your law licenses in a few months, this is a pertinent inquiry. Does the lawyer vs. attorney distinction hold water?
No, according to legal ethics expert Steven Lubet, the Williams Professor of Law at Northwestern Law School:
I saw the posts on Elizabeth Wurtzel. For what it’s worth, the lawyer/attorney distinction is folklore. The terms are synonymous in American English and you may not hold yourself out as either unless you are admitted to practice somewhere.