LEGAL DICTIONARY

Lawyer

By definition, a lawyer is a professional trained in the law that gives legal advice and provides representation services to the public, businesses, or the government.

They can help individuals with numerous tasks such as preparing legal documents, assisting with litigation, and providing expert counsel on matters of the law. Lawyers can be known by many names including:

  • Attorney-at-law
  • Counsel
  • Barrister
  • Legal practitioner
  • Solicitor
  • Brief

This article explains in detail the kind of work that lawyers will take on in their professional life. It also provides an overview of how to become a legal professional and what different types of lawyers exist.

What Does a Lawyer Do?

Lawyers manage many different tasks in their day-to-day work. Some of the most important duties an attorney will take on in their professional lives include:

  • Representing clients in court
  • Researching legal issues
  • Gathering evidence
  • Drafting legal documents like wills, Powers of Attorney, bills of sale, etc
  • Petitioning courts for appeals processes
  • Requesting damages
  • Defending public interests
  • Advising clients
  • Interpreting laws, legalese, rulings, and regulations
  • Mediating disputes between clients and other parties

However, the precise nature of these tasks will always depend on the type of law that the lawyer practices. For example, a legal practitioner working as a public defender will spend more time in court than a corporate lawyer may be required to.

All lawyers who are fully trained and correctly licensed, however, have the capacity to represent clients in court should they need to.

How To Become a Lawyer

Becoming a lawyer isn’t easy but the rewards of this occupation can be great, such as a high salary, and a chance to make a significant difference in society. Law is a career path that requires a lot of training and a number of professional licenses in order to practice.

Prospective lawyers in most cases need to have a bachelor’s degree and to attend law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Once their studies are at an end, future attorneys must follow these steps:

  1. They will need to pass the Bar exam in their state
  2. Pass a character and fitness review
  3. Take an oath to uphold the sanctity of state and federal law

If these steps are completed successfully they will receive their state license to practice law. Lawyers are customarily only permitted to practice law in the state where they earned their license and passed the Bar.

It is sometimes possible to work out of state, although that is usually subject to the state’s Bar licensing regulations. This is normally allowed on an ad-hoc basis when it is necessary.

What Types of Lawyer Exist?

The law is a broad and highly detailed subject. It is not possible to be an expert in every single discipline that it encompasses.

Therefore lawyers will commonly be professionally trained and specialized in one specific area of the law. They will either work directly with law firms or as part of larger businesses in other industries.

There are 9 key types of lawyers that you will normally come across when you need legal help.

Divorce Lawyers

These professionals support with legal matters relating to the breakdown of marital relationships. Divorce lawyers will be called upon to assist with matters such as deciding on custody of children, asset and real estate division, and guiding clients through the steps to a legal divorce.

Criminal Lawyers

Criminal lawyers assist people accused of a crime or an injured party seeking to secure justice. They deal with criminal cases such as fraud, assault, arson, theft, and sex crimes amongst others.

A lawyer in this area of law will create case strategies, interview witnesses, and study case law and criminal codes. They also lead in-court appearances, strike plea bargains, and launch appeals.

Family Lawyers

Family Lawyers assist people with specific familial issues such as estate planning, adoption, divorce, family planning, and various other necessities. These are the attorneys to call upon to aid with documentation such as a Power of Attorney, will, or to set up a Trust.

Immigration Lawyers

Immigration lawyers serve individuals from overseas to determine their rights and responsibilities in order to live in a country they are a non-citizen of. They also help immigrants to secure the correct paperwork and navigate the tricky process of staying long term in the United States and successfully attaining citizenship.

Personal Injury Lawyers

Accident and personal injury lawyers help clients who have received physical or psychological trauma due to accidents caused by negligence. They are able to assist with cases where an individual has lost wages and incurred significant medical expenses due to their injury.

Corporate Lawyers

Corporate lawyers work within companies to attend to the many legal matters that must be dealt with by businesses. They spend a great deal of time advising their clients on correct legal business practices and preparing documentation for mergers, contracts, sales agreements, and any other judicial requirements needed.

Bankruptcy Lawyer

A bankruptcy lawyer serves clients who are seeking to protect themselves legally from their creditors through bankruptcy proceedings. They help individuals navigate the often complicated process of declaring bankruptcy and assist with the courtroom necessities this involves.

Employment Lawyer

Employment lawyers protect clients who are engaged in employer-employee disputes and provide advice to both workers and businesses. These attorneys work on cases arising from issues such as unfair dismissal, disability, gender or racial discrimination, harassment, and workplace safety.

Animal Lawyer

Animal lawyers work on cases that involve the protection, mistreatment, injury, and rights of animals. They are experts in what laws may apply to animals in specific cases where humans are attacked or creatures are mistreated.

Many animal lawyers work closely with protection organizations. They also help pet owners in cases of landlord-tenant disputes over animals living on a property and if clients fall victim to veterinarian malpractice.