I want an English word for an attorney (lawyer)'s client, i.e. someone who employs a lawyer to defend them in court. Client might actually be just fine, but I am looking for a word more consistent with its counterpart.

By counterpart I mean its opposing position e.g. employer -> employee, caller->callee, etc. The word might be used like this (using the non-existent counterpart lawyer -> lawyee to illustrate):

She'd had a distinguished career as a lawyer, but now she was the lawyee.

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    An attorney's client will be either plaintiff or defendant depending on whether he/she sues someone or is sued, respectively. This conveys the client's role in the process, though, not their relation to the attorney. – olegst Jul 11 '16 at 9:17
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    I can't think of a counterpart like that unfortunately, but there is a term employer-employee relationship and there is a term attorney-client privilege – Mystic Odin Jul 11 '16 at 9:49
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    Client is the term in the US. In the case of a criminal charge the client might also be a defendant, and in the case of a civil court case the client might be either defendant or plaintiff. – Hot Licks Jul 11 '16 at 12:10
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    If you really want to confuse people, use attorney/attorner. Or attorneyer/attorneyee. – Sven Yargs Jul 12 '16 at 0:11
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    Editing to improve questions/answers is one of the actions encouraged by this site. Rather than being just a Q&A forum, it becomes a valuable internet resource! PS feel free to wait if you think a better answer might be forthcoming, but don't forget to "tick" the answer you think provides the best solution to your question :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Jul 12 '16 at 8:13

Following the idea of counterparts, the appropriate pair is:

litigator / litigant

See this answer for initial reference. The following provides more detail, as I found that both terms are somewhat ambiguously defined in the standard online resources.

Litigant is defined by ODO as "A person involved in a lawsuit." Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster offer a similar definition. Now, I'd always thought of a litigant as strictly the plaintiff, in the sense that they are the one who litigates, but it seems my reliance on the suffix -ant to denote the agent of the action (e.g. propel/propellant, defend/defendant) was misplaced.

To dispel any doubt, this source makes it clear that litigant means "plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, respondent, cross-complainant, and cross-defendant, but not a witness or attorney" [my emphasis].

Litigator has two meanings according to Dictionary.com (but read on to see why this can't be trusted):

  1. a courtroom lawyer.
  2. a litigant.

It cites the word origin as

agent noun from Latin litigare (see litigation ). Latin litigator meant "a party to a lawsuit; litigant."

Unhelpfully, it also notes that "litigator" can be confused with "litigant".

Two other sources are even less useful: ODO simply defines it as the noun derivative of "litigate", which means "Resort to legal action to settle a matter; be involved in a lawsuit", and similarly Merriam-Webster goes no further than naming it as the noun form, along with "litigation".

The Free Dictionary is equally unhelpful, defining litigator as "a person who litigates" but failing to specify whether the lawyer involved in the lawsuit is "litigating".

Thankfully, however, the same site has a "legal" tab. This definition, citing Burton's Legal Thesaurus, is quite explicit:

litigator noun
appointed counsel, attorney, counsel, counsel representing a party, lead counnel, legal adversary, legal opponent, litigating attorney, littgation counsel, of counsel, opposing counsel, retained counsel

TL;DR: On the basis of all the above, I think I can confidently declare that a litigator is a lawyer, and the counterpart - the litigant - is their client.

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