Difference Wiki

Advice vs. Counsel: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 31, 2023
Advice is guidance or recommendations offered about future action, whereas counsel is formal advice given in a professional context.

Key Differences

Advice is typically informal guidance based on personal experience or knowledge, shared among friends or family. In contrast, counsel refers to a more formalized form of advice, often provided by a professional like a lawyer or consultant in a specific field.
Advice can be given by anyone regardless of their expertise on a subject, and it is often unsolicited. Counsel, however, is usually sought out and given by someone with specialized knowledge or training.
Advice tends to be non-binding and the recipient is free to follow or ignore it. Counsel, especially in legal or therapeutic contexts, carries more weight and may have legal or ethical implications.
In casual conversation, people give advice on everyday matters like recipes or travel tips. Conversely, counsel is associated with significant life decisions, legal matters, or specialized fields.
Advice is often freely given without expectation of payment, while counsel usually comes with professional fees due to the expertise and authority of the counselor.

Comparison Chart


Informal, casual
Formal, professional


Professionals with expertise

Binding Nature

Non-binding, optional
Often carries more weight, sometimes legally binding


Everyday matters, personal life
Legal, therapeutic, or specialized areas


Usually free
Typically involves fees

Advice and Counsel Definitions


Recommendations regarding a decision or course of conduct.
She gave me valuable advice on how to balance work and life.


Advice given by a lawyer or a legal advisor.
The company's counsel advised against the merger.


A proposal for an appropriate course of action.
His advice to take the scenic route was a great idea.


The process of advising someone.
She provided counsel to young entrepreneurs in her field.


An opinion recommended or offered, as worthy to be followed.
Her advice to stay calm during the interview was helpful.


The act of exchanging opinions and ideas; consultation.
They took the counsel of a financial advisor for their investments.


Suggestion about what someone should do.
I appreciated her advice to start investing early.


Professional guidance in resolving personal conflicts and emotional problems.
The couple sought marriage counsel to resolve their issues.


Guidance offered based on experience or knowledge.
His advice on gardening helped my plants thrive.


A plan or action proposed for acceptance.
His counsel on the project was instrumental to its success.


Opinion about what could or should be done about a situation or problem; counsel.


The act of exchanging opinions and ideas; consultation
Joined in counsel with colleagues before deciding the issue.


Often advices Information communicated; news
Advices from an ambassador.


Is advice legally binding?

No, it's usually non-binding.

What is counsel?

Formal, often professional advice or guidance.

What is advice?

Non-binding suggestions or recommendations.

Can advice be given by anyone?

Yes, it can come from anyone.

Is counsel always from a professional?

Typically, it's from someone with expertise.

Can counsel have legal implications?

Yes, especially in legal contexts.

Is advice paid for?

Usually, it's free.

Can advice be about trivial matters?

Yes, it often covers everyday topics.

Do you pay for counsel?

Often, especially if it's from a professional.

Is counsel formal?

Yes, it's a more formal type of guidance.

Can advice be given unsolicited?

Often, advice is given without being asked for.

Is counsel based on professional expertise?

Yes, it relies on professional knowledge.

Can advice be given in a social setting?

Yes, it's common in casual conversations.

Is counsel given in a professional setting?

Typically, it's provided in a formal or professional context.

Is counsel for significant issues?

Usually, it's for more serious or complex matters.

Can advice be informal?

Yes, it's typically informal.

Is advice based on personal experience?

Often, it's based on personal knowledge or experience.

Is counsel sought out?

Usually, people seek counsel for specific problems.

Can advice be about personal life?

Yes, it often relates to personal decisions.

Is counsel related to specialized areas?

Yes, it usually pertains to areas like law or therapy.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons