Advocate vs Lawyer

In the legal field, the terms "advocate," "lawyer," and "attorney" are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion for many. However, there are subtle distinctions that set them apart. This article aims to clarify the differences between these terms and shed light on their respective roles in the legal profession.

By gaining a clear understanding of what distinguishes an advocate, lawyer, and attorney, you can navigate the legal landscape more effectively and make informed decisions when seeking legal representation or advice.

Definition of the Term “Lawyer”

A lawyer, also known as an attorney or attorney-at-law, is an individual who has obtained the necessary authorization to practice law. They play a vital role in the legal system, providing legal advice and representation to clients in various legal matters.

In the case of Savings Bank v. Ward, the court provides valuable insights into the qualities and duties of an attorney. The opinion highlights the following points about attorneys:

  • Attorneys are officers of the court, serving as integral participants in the administration of justice. However, it's important to note that they are not officers of the United States government.
  • Attorneys have a duty to exercise reasonable care in their practice of law. Failure to do so can lead to potential liability for damages arising from negligence.
  • When attorneys perform their duties with skill, reasonable care, and to the best of their knowledge, they are not held liable for every mistake that may occur in their legal practice. However, they are expected to possess a reasonable level of familiarity with the law, rules, and court practices.
  • It's important to recognize that attorneys do not claim to have complete knowledge of all aspects of the law or to be immune from making errors or mistakes when applying the law to specific factual situations.
  • Attorneys owe their primary duty to their clients, prioritizing their clients' interests and well-being. However, there may be certain situations where they have obligations to third parties, although these instances are exceptional and may vary depending on the specific circumstances.

In summary, a lawyer is an authorized legal professional who serves as an officer of the court and provides legal guidance and representation. They are expected to exercise reasonable care, possess knowledge of the law, and prioritize their clients' interests while fulfilling their duties within the legal system.

Definition of the Term “Attorney”

An attorney, also referred to as a lawyer, is an individual who has been granted the authority to practice law. They play a crucial role in providing legal services and representing clients in various legal matters.

Additionally, the term "attorney" can also have a less common usage. It can refer to an agent who is authorized to act on behalf of another person, although this authority does not necessarily involve practicing law. For example, a person granted authority through a power of attorney is authorized to act as an attorney-in-fact or private attorney.

In summary, an attorney is an authorized legal professional who is empowered to practice law and provide legal services to clients. They are knowledgeable in legal matters and have the authority to act on behalf of others in various capacities, whether it be as a practicing lawyer or as an authorized agent.

Definition of the Term “Advocate”

The term "advocate" serves both as a noun and a verb, encompassing different aspects of promoting and supporting the interests of others.

As a noun, an advocate refers to an individual who actively champions and advances the interests of another person or organization. Advocates work diligently to protect and advocate for the rights, needs, and goals of their clients or causes.

As a verb, "to advocate" signifies the action of advocating or promoting the interests of others. It involves actively supporting and representing individuals, groups, or entities by undertaking various tasks such as filing claims, defending against opposing claims, and persuading relevant parties, including government officials, to act favorably towards the concerned individuals or organizations.

For instance, attorneys are considered advocates as they provide legal representation and advocate on behalf of their clients. They engage in advocating for individuals, groups, or corporations by utilizing their legal knowledge and skills to pursue favorable outcomes. This may involve crafting legal strategies, presenting arguments, and negotiating on behalf of their clients.

In summary, the term "advocate" encompasses both the role of an individual dedicated to promoting the interests of others and the action of actively advocating on their behalf. It plays a crucial role in legal contexts where advocating for clients' rights and objectives is paramount.

 Understanding the Concept of “Advocacy” in the Legal Context

Advocacy encompasses various actions aimed at endorsing, recommending, supporting, defending, or pleading on behalf of others. In the legal field, advocacy assumes a specialized meaning and plays a crucial role in the work of legal professionals, particularly barristers.

Advocacy in law involves the skillful presentation of a specific argument before a court, with the objective of persuading the jury and judge to render a favorable decision for clients. It can take the form of written or oral advocacy, and both solicitors and barristers have the ability to advocate before a court. However, solicitors must acquire higher rights of audience to address higher courts such as the High Court, Court of Appeal, or Supreme Court.

Individuals also have the right to advocate for themselves in court proceedings, known as acting as a "litigant in person" without legal representation. This places the responsibility on the individual to present their case effectively.

Oral advocacy is considered a performative skill, requiring advocates to address the court concisely and persuasively. It involves presenting a case in a clear, efficient, and well-organized manner.

On the other hand, written advocacy demands discipline and organization. When advocating in writing, it is crucial to provide the court with a document that serves as a foundation for judgment. Written advocacy should be presented professionally and succinctly.

A well-crafted written advocacy submission typically includes a brief case introduction, a summary of the facts, a chronological account of events, an application of relevant laws to the case, and substantive submissions that connect the law to the facts at hand. By presenting a coherent and compelling written argument, advocates seek to influence the court's decision-making process.

 What Sets Advocates Apart: Understanding the Distinction

The distinction between an advocate and a lawyer lies in their roles and abilities within the legal system. While both professionals are qualified to provide legal advice, an advocate possesses the additional capability to represent clients in court proceedings.

The Role of a Legal Advocate

A legal advocate is entrusted with various responsibilities, including:

  • Conducting case analysis and evaluation
  • Crafting persuasive and well-structured legal arguments
  • Presenting oral and written submissions
  • Acting as a representative for clients during court proceedings
  • Skillfully cross-examining witnesses in criminal trials

These tasks represent a broad overview, as advocacy extends from the initial client consultation to thorough case research, document preparation, and ultimately presenting the case in court.

Moreover, legal advocates are equipped to provide independent legal support, offering specialized expertise in analyzing clients' issues and delivering well-researched legal advice. Their representation extends beyond traditional courts and can encompass tribunals, professional disciplinary committees, and arbitrations.

Many advocates choose to specialize in specific areas of law, catering to the needs of individuals, organizations, and in-house legal teams alike. Their profound knowledge and experience contribute to effective legal representation and guidance.

Essential Advocacy Skills for Legal Professionals

Effective advocacy requires a range of key skills to navigate the complexities of the legal profession. These skills include:

  • Preparation:

Legal advocates must be prepared to handle various situations and adapt to different environments. Whether interacting with clients, colleagues, or courtroom settings, thorough preparation is essential for success.

  • Interviewing:

The advocacy process begins with interviewing clients to gather crucial information relevant to the case. This skill is vital for establishing a strong lawyer-client relationship and obtaining essential facts.

  • Persuasion:

Persuasive skills are paramount for legal advocates. Persuasion sets the legal profession apart, and the ability to effectively persuade is a cornerstone of long-term success in advocacy.

  • Legal Drafting:

Legal advocates must possess the ability to handle numerous legal documents and correspondences while maintaining a high standard of professionalism. Organizational skills and the ability to manage legal paperwork ensure that cases stay on track.

  • Presentation:

The skill of presenting arguments clearly, concisely, and convincingly before a court, jury, or clients is crucial for a successful advocate. Developing logical and coherent arguments, presenting them confidently, and maintaining professional conduct are essential components of effective advocacy.

Mastering these skills enables legal advocates to navigate the intricacies of their profession, advocate effectively for their clients, and achieve favorable outcomes in their cases.

The Applications of Legal Advocacy

Legal advocacy finds its primary application in the realm of court litigation, often serving as the final recourse in dispute resolution. When people envision legal advocacy, the image of a lawyer passionately arguing their case in court comes to mind.

However, the skills associated with advocacy extend beyond the courtroom and find relevance in various aspects of legal practice. These skills are invaluable in alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration and mediation, as well as in the broader scope of client representation.

For example, the ability to conduct comprehensive legal research and effectively present findings applies not only to courtroom advocacy but also when providing advisory services to clients. These skills play a pivotal role in offering sound legal advice and guiding clients through the intricacies of their legal matters.

Thus, legal advocacy encompasses a broader spectrum of legal practice, combining persuasive abilities, research expertise, and effective communication skills. It is a versatile tool that empowers lawyers to advocate for their clients' interests, whether in the courtroom or in advisory roles.

 How to become an Advocate in Kenya?

To become a lawyer in Kenya, you need to follow these general steps:

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree: Complete a bachelor's degree in law (LL.B) from a recognized university in Kenya or abroad. This typically takes four years of study.
  • Complete the advocates training program: After obtaining your LL.B degree, you must enroll in the Kenya School of Law and successfully complete the advocates training program. This program provides practical legal training and equips aspiring lawyers with the necessary skills and knowledge to practice law in Kenya.
  • Pupilage: After completing the advocates training program, you are required to undergo a period of pupilage, which is a form of apprenticeship under a practicing advocate. This typically lasts for six months, during which you gain practical experience and learn from a qualified advocate.
  • Admission to the bar: Upon completion of pupilage, you need to apply for admission to the bar by filing an application with the Chief Justice of Kenya. You will be required to provide certain documents, pay the requisite fees, and fulfill any other requirements set by the Law Society of Kenya.
  • Advocates Practicing Certificate: Once your application is approved, you will be issued an advocate’s practicing certificate, which allows you to practice law in Kenya as a qualified advocate.

It's important to note that the process of becoming a lawyer in Kenya may have specific requirements and procedures that can vary. It is advisable to consult the Law Society of Kenya or the Kenya School of Law for the most accurate and up-to-date information on the admission requirements and procedures.