Well, the terms are certainly used interchangeably in the United States. But, no, a lawyer isn’t necessarily an attorney.
Confused? Don’t be. The misunderstanding is, well, understandable.
Both terms refer to someone who is educated in law. (The word lawyer, by the way, has Middle English origins and literally means someone who is trained in law.)
If you’ve completed law school, though, you don’t have to practice law in court to be considered a lawyer.
An attorney, on the other hand, has the right to practice law in court. That’s the distinction. Passing the bar exam for an attorney gives them that right in a specific jurisdiction.
Both lawyers and attorneys are required to abide by a code of ethics and may practice in both civil and criminal cases.
So, yes, in the United States the terms lawyer and attorney are often used interchangeably. But remember all attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. Attorneys are qualified to defend or prosecute in court.