What is a lawyer? Who are they and what is the work lawyers do

A lawyer is a professional who has spent their academic career studying law and has passed necessary license requirements to practice law and offer legal advice to others. They offer legal counsel in areas such as business, civil, and criminal law as well as many more. The requirements to be a lawyer vary by state, but always requires hard work, a lot of studying, and determination. In some cases, the actions of a lawyer could mean life or death for their client. An attorney is responsible for knowing the best legal course of action their client should take based on each client’s individual circumstances.

This is just one of the reasons why becoming an attorney is no easy task.

A lawyer's primary function is to offer counsel and advice to their clients as they are navigating the legal system in a variety of matters. These matters could be criminal, civil, financial, or business-related. An attorney is just as important in the boardroom as they are in a courtroom. The fine print we always skip over, attorneys read that and ensure that you are not giving away your firstborn child or vowing eternal servitude when making business negotiations.

No matter the circumstances, lawyers often act as advocates on behalf of clients and are looking out for the clients best interest

Lawyer vs. Attorney

What is the difference in the legal profession ?

Oftentimes, the terms lawyer and attorney are used interchangeably however, this is not correct. A lawyer is someone who has studied the law but has not necessarily pasted their required licensing exam. An attorney is someone who has the necessary credentials to practice law having successfully passed the bar exam. Generally, it is acceptable to use both terms in casual conversation, but in a more formal setting, the correct terminology is preferred. If you are unsure of the proper term to use it's always acceptable to ask your legal counsel what they prefer or if they have a preference at all. A common statement made in regards to this idea is that all attorneys are lawyers but, not all lawyers are attorneys.

Law school, internships, and the bar! OH my!

Educational background of most lawyers and attorneys

An attorney's education helps prepare them for working within the confines of the legal system. Their academic career begins but the completion of a four-year undergraduate degree and taking the LSAT. There's usually a minimum score that has to be reached on the LSAT before a person is admitted to law school. Law students spend the next 3 years studying all manners of the legal system. Attending law school can be one of the most stressful educational environments there is. It is not for the faint of heart and if you know someone who has completed Law School you should be impressed by their determination.

Upon graduation, they will be awarded a Juris Doctor degree.

Depending upon the state some law students will be required to do an internship others will choose to do it as part of their education. Law internships can be done in private practices or the public sector. what is required of The Intern varies by the nature of the internship. Another factor that plays a part in the internship process is whether the student is an L1, L2, or L3 representing the year of study they have just completed. An internship is a great way that law students can get hands-on training before graduation And to try out different veins of law that they might wish to practice in the future.

The bar exam is the exam that lawyers have to pass to be licensed attorneys. The requirements to pass the bar vary from state-to-state but generally speaking the exam will be a two-day long standardized test. Although, some states have a 3-day long test. The bar exam is made up of multiple different parts including essay questions and standardized questions. This exam is administered by the American Bar Association. Again, taking the bar exam is one of the most stressful experiences on the path to becoming a lawyer. Depending upon the state, statistically speaking the success rate of those attempting the bar exam for the first time and passing is between 50 and 75%.

Undoubtedly, the bar exam is one of the most difficult exams in the country.

Who makes sure a lawyer plays by the rules?

The American Bar Association

The American Bar Association is the governing body of all attorneys. They set standards, handle disciplinary action, as well as making sure all regulations are upheld for lawyers. Before a person can even become an attorney they have to go through what is called the Character and Fitness Process. This is an in-depth background check that takes months to perform and includes credit checks as well as contacting references.

This is all done by the American Bar Association to ensure that those who practice the law also uphold it. So much as a speeding ticket can land an attorney before a review board. And any Act of impropriety or illegal activity can lead to disciplinary action for the attorney in question. A strict code of conduct is in place and lawyers are held to high standards professionally and personally. Your attorney should never suggest that you do anything illegal and behave in an upstanding manner.

Practice makes perfect!

Practicing law is the act of giving legal advice to clients, drafting legal documents, and helping clients mitigate the legal system. It can be done in a variety of ways from simple to complex. Some attorneys choose to practice alone. Others are part of a firm. Yet still, others choose to be part of the public sector.

It is most common for lawyers to have a system of support staff in place. This staff would include people in the roles such as paralegals, secretaries, office managers, and when necessary private investigators. The practice of law is not a solo sport but, rather a team effort. The people on this team all want the best outcome for their clients. This is an important fact to take into consideration before choosing a lawyer. Ask about the team that will be working on your case.

Types of lawyers

What kind of attorney do I need?

Criminal Lawyer

A criminal lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in the practice of criminal law. If you require a criminal lawyer it is best to get one who understands the laws of the state where you are being charged. Criminal lawyers can be defense attorneys, district attorneys, or they can work pro bono. A criminal defense attorney is the one who helps when you are accused of doing something against the law. If you are unsure if you need an attorney when in doubt exercise your Miranda Right to legal counsel and ask for one.

Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer or a car accident lawyer is the one to call when you have been hurt in a car wreck. The practice of taking care of the injured is exactly what personal injury lawyers do! They will help you get payment to cover the cost of things like medical bills, car repairs, lost income, and pain and suffering. If a wreck occurs that is not your fault you should not have to pay for the cost of the damage done to your vehicle or your property.

Workers Compensation Lawyer

If you get injured at work and are no longer able to work what happens to you? A worker’s compensation attorney will make sure that you get the money you are owed from your place of employment. This can mean the difference between surviving and financial ruin for some individuals.

Bankruptcy Lawyer

A Bankruptcy Lawyer can be a saving grace for those who have fallen on hard times! They will work with you to negotiate debt repayment plans. An attorney can even help you get your overdue debts discharged. If you need help a bankruptcy lawyer might be able to help you.

Family Lawyer

Divorces, Adoptions, Custody Arrangements, prenuptial agreements, and so much more fall under a family law practitioner. Oftentimes a family lawyer and advocate for any children involved and they help people going through some of the hardest times of their lives.

Immigration Lawyer

Navigating the citizenship process is challenging at best. An immigration attorney is a lawyer who specializes in the legal system dealing with immigration. Green cards, visas, and more are all things that this practice can help with.

Estate Planning Lawyer

No one likes to think about the end of life but, it is better to be prepared. Saving your loved ones from the burden of not knowing what to do when the time comes by having a will in place. An estate planning lawyer is an attorney who specializes in helping you prepare for the end of life by drafting wills.

Intellectual Property Lawyer

If you have a good idea you do not want someone to steal it! An intellectual property lawyer works with patents, copyrights, trademarks, and more. They will help you legally protect your good idea and guide through what to do when someone is infringing on your property.

Employment Lawyer

Any legal issues in the workplace fall under the category of an employment lawyer. Both employers and employees can work with an attorney to resolve any issues that come up in a work environment.

Corporate Lawyer

Corporate Lawyers work in contracts, business dealings, mergers, acquisitions, and negations. They help businesses ensure that they compile with all government regulations and stay upstanding with their legal dealings

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

We all hope that the day never comes when a medical practitioner makes a mistake on ourselves or someone we love. Should you find yourself the victim of negligence, misdiagnoses, or inaccurate treatment a medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine if there is enough evidence to make a case and what you deserve. They can bring healing to a situation!

Tax Lawyer

Taxes. One of the most feared words in our language. If you find yourself dealing with the Internal Revenue Service you will want to have a really good tax attorney on your side. They can take the awful out of an audit.

Civil Litigation Lawyer

If you need to sue someone or are being sued an attorney who specializes in civil litigation is who is needed. They deal with a variety of cases such as breach of contract, class action suits, land disputes, and more.

What makes a good lawyer?

A good lawyer is a treasure! They should listen to you, answer your questions, offer guidance, and have your best interest at heart. When choosing a great attorney they should be straightforward with billing practices, and be willing to work to understand your unique situation. they should have no disciplinary action in their recent history, be kind to their staff, and make you, the client, feel comfortable.

Getting recommendations from family and friends can be a wonderful way to find a great lawyer. Reading reviews online can be another helpful way to gage if you would like to work with a certain lawyer. If you lack a personal recommendation contacting the American Bar Association can be a way to get a recommendation for a lawyer in a particular area that you need. A good lawyer is a lawyer who will meet your needs, who makes you feel comfortable, we'll fight for you, and understands the workings of the law.

Things to look for

Look for someone who will answer your questions. The law is their job, but they should understand that you are not the expert here. A great attorney is someone who explains the steps in the process and guides you through it. Look for an attorney that you would be proud to have representing you. They are your public legal face. Most attorneys offer free consultations which will allow you to get a better feel for the type of work that they do and if you will work well together. This is also a perfect opportunity to meet the other members of their team

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