Law firm vs Law office

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qwertina

New Member
Italian
As per title of this thread, what's the difference between a law firm and a law office?Is it correct to say "He was an intern to ZZZ law firm" or "He was an intern to ZZZ law office"? Should there be "the" before the name of the law office or not?Thanks
 
  • hairlover45

    Senior Member
    English - American
    To me, "law office" and "law firm" mean the same thing. The definite article is optional before the name, because "the" refers to the noun, "firm."

    "He worked for Jones and Smith."
    "He worked for Jones and Smith law firm."
    "He worked for the Jones and Smith law firm."
    "He worked for the law firm of Jones and Smith."

    In general, you would not use "the" before a name.

    "He was an engineer for Chrysler Motors." Not, "He was an engineer for the Chrysler Motors." You could say, "He was an engineer for the Chrysler Motors Corporation."
     
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    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    They do not mean the same thing to me. My perspective is AE.

    A law firm is a business. I just checked the definition online and it can be of any size. However, the word "firm" gives me as a native speaker the image of a large firm with a hierarchical structure with partners at top, junior partners, etc. It might have a name like Dewey, Jenkins & Figerbutter.

    A law office is a place. It could be the place of work of a single lawyer. It could house a small number of lawyers, who may be independent or who may work together. Or it could be the place of business of a law firm.

    You asked how to use in a sentence. Here are a few options:

    He was an intern at Dewey, Jenkins & Fingerbutter.
    He was an intern at law firm Dewey, Jenkins & Fingerbutter.
    He was an interm at the law firm of Dewey, Jenkins & Fingerbutter.
    She was an intern in a law office.
    (This is vague. It could be a law firm, or any law office.)

    It is common in AE to say "the law offices of James P. Dewey" or "the law offices of Dewey, Jenkins & Fingerbutter."
     
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    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    To me, "law office" and "law firm" mean the same thing. The definite article is optional before the name, because "the" refers to the noun, "firm."

    "He worked for Jones and Smith."
    "He worked for Jones and Smith law firm."
    "He worked for the Jones and Smith law firm."
    "He worked for the law firm of Jones and Smith."

    In general, you would not use "the" before a name.

    "He was an engineer for Chrysler Motors." Not, "He was an engineer for the Chrysler Motors." You could say, "He was an engineer for the Chrysler Motors Corporation."
    Yes, I agree. No real difference, especially in contexts other than contracts, or other corporate papers. Law firm sounds slightly more prestigious (on a resume).
     

    scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    From Britain, I agree with Embonpoint. Firm is more impressive, it is a company which employs lawyers. Office, or practice, would be the office of a single lawyer or a few lawyers working entrepreneurially in small rented offices.

    And of course in all cases office(s) could refer to the physical building or the individual lawyers' room.
     
    In BrE neither term is traditional but both are becoming more common.

    "Firm" relates to the whole business, which might be one office or many offices in different places, owned by the same business. We do have multi-site law firms in Britain.

    "Office" means just one location; one building; even if the same firm has many other offices elsewhere.
     

    neal41

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    A law firm is a business.

    A law office is a place.
    I agree. In the US when you make a phone call to a lawyer's office/law firm, it is common for the person who answers the phone to say, "Law office(s)". He/she probably would not say, "Law firm". It is also common to say the full name of the firm, as in "Dewey, Jenkins, Fingerbutter, Cheatham, and Steel". The secretary has repeated the name hundreds of times and says it really fast. It is so fast that the person making the call doesn't understand a word.
     
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