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Counselor vs. Lawyer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 13, 2023
A counselor offers advice and guidance in various areas, including mental health, education, or careers; a lawyer is a professional who practices law, representing and advising clients in legal matters.

Key Differences

Counselors provide advice, guidance, and support in areas like mental health, career, or education. Lawyers, also known as attorneys, offer legal representation, advice, and draft legal documents.
Counselors specialize in helping individuals manage personal issues, make decisions, and overcome challenges. Lawyers specialize in legal matters, including litigation, contract law, criminal law, and more.
Counselors typically have training in psychology, counseling, or social work. Lawyers are required to have a law degree and pass a bar examination to practice law.
Counseling services focus on personal development, mental health, and well-being. Legal services involve legal advice, representation in court, and navigating legal systems.
The goal of a counselor is to help clients achieve personal growth, understanding, and resolution of personal issues. The goal of a lawyer is to represent clients in legal disputes and ensure their rights are protected.

Comparison Chart


Offers guidance and support
Practices law, represents in legal matters


Personal issues, mental health, career
Litigation, contract law, criminal law


Training in psychology, counseling
Law degree, bar examination

Service Type

Personal development, well-being
Legal advice, court representation


Personal growth, resolving issues
Protecting clients' legal rights

Counselor and Lawyer Definitions


A trained individual offering support for mental health issues.
After her trauma, she began sessions with a mental health counselor.


A legal representative in civil, criminal, or other legal proceedings.
The criminal lawyer specialized in defense strategies.


A professional who provides guidance on personal, social, or psychological issues.
She visited a counselor to discuss her career goals.


A practitioner in the field of law, often specializing in a specific area.
As a corporate lawyer, he advised companies on legal compliance.


A person who gives counsel; an adviser.


A professional who practices law and represents clients in legal matters.
The lawyer argued the case in court with great skill.


An attorney, especially a trial lawyer.


An advisor knowledgeable in law, providing legal advice.
They consulted a lawyer to understand the contract's implications.


A person who supervises children at a summer camp.


An attorney who prepares legal documents and represents in litigation.
Her lawyer drafted a strong defense for the upcoming trial.


A person, especially a licensed professional, who treats people with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and problems. See Usage Note at council.


One whose profession is to give legal advice and assistance to clients and represent them in court or in other legal matters.


A professional who counsels people, especially on personal problems.


A professional person with a graduate law degree that qualifies for legal work (such as Juris Doctor)


(education) A school counselor, often in a specialty such as careers, education, or health.


A professional person qualified (as by a law degree or bar exam) and authorized to practice law as an attorney-at-law, solicitor, advocate, barrister or equivalent, i.e. represent parties in lawsuits or trials and give legal advice.
A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade. - aphorism often credited to Abraham Lincoln, but without attestation


(legal) An attorney.


(politics) A high ranking diplomat, usually just below an ambassador or minister.


(America) A children’s supervisor, usually at camp.


One who counsels; an adviser.
Can he that speaks with the tongue of an enemy be a good counselor, or no?


A member of council; one appointed to advise a sovereign or chief magistrate. [See under Consilor.]


One whose profession is to give advice in law, and manage causes for clients in court; a barrister.
Good counselors lack no clients.


Someone who has supervisory duties at a summer camp.


Some who gives advice about problems


Someone who has supervisory duties at a summer camp


A lawyer who pleads cases in court


An advisor in educational settings, guiding students academically.
The school counselor helped him choose his college major.


A person who advises on specific matters, like career or family.
The marriage counselor provided strategies to improve their communication.


Someone who offers guidance and support in decision-making.
He turned to a financial counselor for advice on investments.


Do counselors provide legal advice?

No, their advice is typically non-legal, focusing on personal or psychological support.

Do lawyers need psychological skills?

While beneficial, their primary skill set is in legal knowledge and practice.

Can a lawyer act as a counselor?

Only in the legal sense; they are not trained mental health professionals.

Are counselors involved in legal cases?

Sometimes, as advisors or expert witnesses on mental health matters.

Is confidentiality important for both professions?

Yes, both maintain client confidentiality in their respective fields.

Do lawyers require training in counseling?

Not typically, unless it pertains to their legal specialty.

Is a lawyer always necessary for legal issues?

Not for all issues, but advisable for complex legal matters.

Can a counselor represent someone in court?

No, that is the role of a lawyer.

Can counselors help with stress related to legal issues?

Yes, they can provide support for stress and emotional concerns.

Are all lawyers involved in courtroom litigation?

No, some focus on advisory roles or transactional law.

Can a lawyer provide counseling services?

Not in the sense of psychological counseling.

Do counselors need to understand the law?

Basic legal knowledge is helpful but not a primary requirement.

What type of problems do counselors address?

They address a range of personal, social, and mental health issues.

Can a counselor advocate in legal settings?

They can provide support but not legal representation.

Can counselors specialize in specific areas?

Yes, like marriage, family, substance abuse, or career counseling.

Are there different types of lawyers?

Yes, including criminal, civil, corporate, and more.

Can a lawyer become a counselor?

Yes, but they would need additional training in counseling.

Can counselors prescribe medication?

Only if they are also licensed medical professionals, like psychiatrists.

Do lawyers counsel their clients on legal decisions?

Yes, they provide legal counseling and advice.

Do lawyers collaborate with counselors?

Sometimes, especially in cases involving mental health or family law.
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.

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