Most people use the terms “attorney” and “lawyer” interchangeably. However, there is a difference in the strict definition of the terms. 

Traditionally, a lawyer was someone who graduated from law school. An attorney was a person who graduated from law school and was admitted to practice law after passing a bar examination. 

In Florida, there is no difference between the terms attorney and lawyer. They are both used to refer to someone who graduated from law school, passed the Florida bar exam, and is admitted to practice law in Florida.

What are the Requirements to Practice Law in Florida?

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, car crash, or other accident in Florida, you generally want an attorney licensed to practice in Florida to handle your case. An attorney licensed to practice law in Florida understands state laws related to personal injury and premises liability. A Florida attorney is also familiar with the courts and the court rules.

Each state sets its own requirements for licensing attorneys. Most of the requirements are similar. To practice law in Florida, an attorney must:

  • Earn a Juris Doctor (law degree) from an American Bar Association accredited law school
  • Pass all sections of the Florida Bar Examination 
  • Meet the requirements for fitness and good moral character
  • Take an oath confirming that the attorney agrees to perform the responsibilities and obligations of practicing law

A person does not need to live in Florida to be licensed to practice law in Florida. Some attorneys are licensed to practice in several states, especially when their law firm is close to the border between two or more states.

What Is the Unauthorized Practice of Law?

Some individuals graduate from law school, but decide not to take a bar examination or may not pass the bar examination. They may use the title “J.D” or Juris Doctor after their name to indicate that they hold a law degree. However, they cannot practice law.

Practicing law without a license is a crime under Florida law. Anyone practicing law without a license can be charged with a third-degree felony. Giving legal advice, representing someone in court, or drafting legal documents generally are considered practicing law. 

Individuals without a legal license can work in the legal field. They can work for licensed attorneys, teach legal courses, or perform other work, such as consulting or research. An attorney who does not have a license must be careful not to cross the line into practicing law without a license.

Locating a Florida Attorney to Handle Your Case

When you or your loved one is injured, you may need the services of a personal injury lawyer. 

A personal injury lawyer handles cases involving motorcycle accidents, defective products, truck accidents, and other incidents of personal injury. An attorney can help you recover compensation for your financial losses and other damages. However, locating the right attorney to handle your case can be challenging. 

The first step is to ensure that the attorney you hire is licensed to practice law in Florida. You also want to ensure that the attorney is in good standing with the State Bar Association. The Florida Bar’s Find a Lawyer tool lets you confirm both of these important factors.

When you research an attorney with this tool, you can also see how long the attorney has been practicing law, general areas of legal practice, board certifications, and the law school the attorney attended. The results also indicate whether the attorney has had any complaints filed against the attorney within the last ten years.

When searching for a personal injury attorney in Florida, you may also want to keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Does the attorney handle personal injury cases similar to your case?
  • How often does the lawyer settle cases versus going to court?
  • How much trial experience does the attorney have, and what is the success rate?
  • Does the lawyer accept cases on a contingency fee basis?
  • Will you owe any money for the costs of the case if the attorney fails to recover compensation for your personal injury claim?
  • Will you work directly with the attorney, or will your case be assigned to an associate or paralegal?
  • What is the method of communication? 
  • How often do you receive updates about your case?
  • Does the law firm have the staff and resources necessary to handle your case?

When you meet with an attorney for a consultation, you need to feel comfortable with the lawyer. You should feel free to share information and ask questions about your case. Effective communication is essential for the success of your personal injury case. 

Contact the Clearwater Personal Injury Law Firm of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact the legal team of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Clearwater. We have four convenient locations in Florida: Clearwater, New Port Richey, and Tampa.

We serve throughout Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, and its surrounding areas:

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
1811 N. Belcher Road, Suite I-1
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 787-2500

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Congress Ave Office
2360 Congress Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33763
(727) 591-5610

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
6601 Memorial Hwy Suite 202
Tampa, FL 33615
(813) 686-7588

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
2515 Seven Springs Blvd.
New Port Richey, FL, 34655
(727) 815-8442