Up until the Judicature Acts in 1873, lawyers in England and Wales practicing in the common law courts were known as attorneys-at-law, or attorneys for short. After this time they adopted the term solicitor, which was previously used for the courts of equity. Of course in Canada lawyers are both barristers and solicitors, although neither term is used much in common parlance.
…the obvious the word of choice to optimize for is attorney. In the United States it is searched on over twice as many times as the word lawyer. For some reason the plurals of the word are inverse to the singular. The trends for all 4 words appear to stay about the same.
But Canadians don’t use the word “attorney” nearly as interchangeably with “lawyer” as they do in the U.S., so I was curious to see if this pattern would be mirrored in Canada.
As expected, the Google Trends for the same words in Canada show a heavy dominance of “lawyer” and “lawyers” over “attorney” and “attorneys.”
There seems to be a slight increase in the use of the word “attorney” between January 2009-January 2011, but since that time it has dropped and consistently stayed lower than pre-2009 levels. The searches for “lawyer” have increased since 2011, and still appear to be on the increase. The reason for these changes are likely due to improvements to geographical assignments implemented by Google on July 12, 2011, which have been applied retroactively as far back as January 1, 2011.
In Canada, most of the searches related to “attorney” involve the Attorney General, the Crown Attorney, or queries related to a power of attorney. Searches for “attorneys” has been negligible throughout this time period.
What can we conclude from this information?
Most of the search volume in Canada is concentrated in Southern Ontario, followed by the Lower Mainland in B.C. and some activity in the Prairies. Based on the upward trends I believe it’s safe to conclude that more Canadian consumers will turn to Google to find or research a lawyer, and they’ll do it using the term “lawyer” and not “attorney.”
Not to beat a dead horse, but more people search “Ontario bar” than they do “Law Society of Upper Canada.” Either the OBA is really popular with the public, or the public whose interests LSUC is supposed to protect are ending up on the site of the profession’s main advocacy group.
Of course nobody, not even the lawyers, search for practitioners using the terms “barrister” or “solicitor.” But those appear to be other examples of traditional nomenclature that we’re stuck with, for now.