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What are the Different Types of Lawyers?

A legal career can be both challenging and rewarding. It’s challenging because it requires constant learning and updating of knowledge to meet the demands of an ever-changing profession. It’s rewarding because you get to use your skills and knowledge to help people. 

There are a variety of different legal specialties that lawyers can specialize in once they complete law school and pass the bar exam. These include criminal law, family law, patent law, estate planning, business law, employment law, immigration law, trusts and estates management, corporate law, personal injury litigation, real estate transactions… 

The list goes on! Depending on your interests and personality, you will likely find one specific area that catches your attention more than others. Let’s take a look at some of the most common specialties among lawyers today.

Criminal Law

Criminal law is the branch of law that deals with crime and the legal process by which criminal offenses are tried. These offenses are generally considered to be violations of a state’s criminal law and are therefore punishable by government authorities

Some examples of criminal law include homicide, assault, theft, sexual misconduct, drug trafficking, fraud, and kidnapping. These lawyers represent individuals who have been charged with criminal offenses and other law violations, such as those that may result in the loss of civil rights. 

They are permitted to appear in all courts, including federal courts, to defend their clients against criminal charges. Criminal lawyers may also be responsible for helping their clients obtain reduced sentences or seeking an outright dismissal of charges pending against them. 

Criminal lawyers may also represent businesses and organizations charged with criminal offenses.

Family Law

Family law is a broad legal category encompassing the wide range of legal disputes and issues that involve family members and their interpersonal relationships. Issues of divorce and child custody may fall under family law, as well as domestic violence, child abuse, and child neglect cases. 

This type of law covers the entire spectrum of interpersonal relationships, including civil marriage and divorce (to grant a divorce, a court must find that ‘no-fault’ has occurred. In other words, neither party to a marriage has committed any wrongdoing or fault in order to be granted a divorce), adoption, child custody, child support and alimony, paternity, and spousal abuse. 

Family law lawyers help families and couples with issues around marriage, divorce, and adoption. They also help resolve custody, visitation, and child support. If a spouse is abusive, a family law attorney may represent a victim and help her seek a restraining order. 

They can also negotiate for terms of a divorce that protect her interests, such as child custody terms that give her more time with children.

Patent Law

Patent law refers to federal laws governing the granting and use of patents related to inventions and discoveries. These laws are established and administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). 

These attorneys represent inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses that have been granted patents or intend on applying for patents for their discoveries and inventions. Patent attorneys can specialize in a particular aspect of patent law, such as patentability, patent searches, prosecution, or litigation. 

This type of attorneys who specialize in patentability help their clients determine the patentability of their discoveries. Patentability means that a discovery is novel (new), non-obvious, and useful. Patentability can be determined through a preliminary patent search and/or a more in-depth patent search. 

Patent attorneys who specialize in patent searches conduct a preliminary patent search to determine whether an idea is novel and/or non-obvious. Patent searches are generally inexpensive and can be done online through various websites.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is a process of making arrangements in advance for the disposition of your assets upon your death. Estate planning attorneys help their clients plan future distributions of their assets and provide advice on how to minimize tax and probate costs. 

Estate planning lawyers generally assist their clients with wills, trusts, and power of attorney. A will is a written document that explains how you want your assets distributed upon your death. A trust is a written document that explains how you want your assets distributed while you are alive. 

A power of attorney is a written document that allows you to name someone you trust to handle your financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated due to an illness or accident.

Business Law

Business law encompasses a wide variety of legal issues related to the operation of businesses and commercial transactions. Business law attorneys generally advise business owners regarding legal issues and cases, represent them in court if necessary, and negotiate contracts. 

Issues that business law attorneys commonly deal with include contract disputes, intellectual property (IP) issues (such as patent, copyright, and trademark), real estate transactions, corporate governance, and employee relations and employment issues. 

Business law attorneys may also represent individuals in small claims court. Business law attorneys may specialize in one particular legal area. For example, commercial real estate attorneys specialize in representing landlords and commercial real estate developers in commercial lease negotiations.

Employment Law

Employment law is the body of law that governs the employer-employee relationship. These attorneys represent employees in disputes with their employers, including discrimination cases, wrongful termination, and other types of employee disputes. 

This area of law law generally includes the following topics: discrimination, wrongful termination, employee benefits, employee contracts, employee hiring and firing, employee wages and salaries, employee health and safety, employee hiring, and employee training and development. 

Employment law attorneys may also represent individuals who are trying to form employment contracts with their employers.

Immigration Law

Immigration law is the body of law that deals with the legal movement of people into and out of a country. Immigration law attorneys represent individuals who are in the process of moving to or from the U.S. 

These attorneys may represent either individuals immigrating to the U.S. or individuals attempting to immigrate to another country. They help their clients send visa petitions to the U.S. government and represent them in interviews with U.S. consulates. 

They also help their clients obtain work visas and green cards so they can stay and work in the U.S. permanently. Immigration law attorneys can also help individuals obtain stays of deportation if they are currently in the U.S. but are not legal residents.

Trusts and Estates Management

Trusts and estates management deals with the management and administration of trusts and estates. Trusts and estates management attorneys help their clients create trusts and wills to manage their assets in the event of death. 

These attorneys help their clients determine the best way to distribute their assets after death. They can help their clients create trusts to hold their assets until a specified time when the assets will be distributed according to the terms of the trust. 

They can also help their clients create wills that explain how their assets should be distributed after death.

Conclusion

Legal careers are challenging and rewarding. Legal careers require constant learning and updating of knowledge to meet the demands of an ever-changing profession. These changes often result from the passage of new laws or regulations by Congress or from decisions made by state or federal courts. 

There are a variety of different legal specialties that lawyers can specialize in once they complete law school and pass the bar exam. These include criminal law, family law, patent law, estate planning, business law, employment law, immigration law, and trusts and estates management.

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