Whether you are thinking about filing a lawsuit or asking questions about a legal dispute, you need a lawyer to help you. Often, people are confused about what type of lawyer they need to hire. Like with physicians, lawyers generally work in a specific area of law.
Criminal defense lawyers assist individuals accused of committing a crime ranging from theft, to driving under the influence to murder. These criminal charges are prosecuted a state or federal district attorney’s office. Prosecutors usually do not negotiate directly with those accused of crimes. Instead, they will negotiate with defense attorneys to reduce or discharges. If a plea bargain does not occur, a criminal lawyer will represent the accused at trial.
Business lawyers may focus on specific areas of law like mergers, acquisitions, or basic legal tasks such as creating contracts. Clients often hire business lawyers when they want to start a company, negotiate a business deal, or file a lawsuit involving their company. Business lawyers are also available to give legal advice about the business law.
Employment and labor lawyers handle legal issues strictly related to employment. These legal topics range from ensuring a company complies with federal and state labor laws to suing employers. Many lawyers also defend businesses in employment lawsuits. Some employment lawyers do not litigate, and only draw up contracts and offer legal advice.
Individuals interested in setting up a plan to have their estate be taken care of after they die often turn to estate lawyers. These lawyers create trusts, draft wills, and distribute property as an executor of a client’s will. Some estate lawyers also represent clients who are contesting a will or trust.
The area of family law includes legal issues that involve couples, children, and spouses. For example, family law lawyers represent clients in custody, child support, and divorce cases. They also assist couples with pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Finance and Securities Law
Finance and securities law is a subsection of business law. However, finance and securities lawyers only focus on legal issues involving:
- Issuing dividends
- Selling stocks
- Filing a SEC complaint against a company
- Representing clients against IRS claims
Immigration lawyers assist employers and family members wanting to secure visas for foreign-born individuals. The majority of work for immigration lawyers comes from businesses that hire a lot of employees from outside the United States. The type of immigration work involves filing forms with the federal government on their clients’ behalf.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property lawyers focus strictly on protecting intangible property. Intellectual property law can be divided into four areas:
- Trademark/trade dress
- Trade secret
Most intellectual property lawyers focus on protecting and enforcing the rights of intellectual property owners. However, several intellectual property lawyers also complete and file intellectual property registration papers, such as patent applications and trademark registration applications, on their clients’ behalf.
Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law is the most diverse area of law because it involves any injury and accident. For example, car accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products are all different causes of injuries that fall into the category of personal injury. Personal injury lawyers typically handle a certain legal issues. For instance, if you are injured by slipping and falling in a grocery store, you would not hire a car accident personal injury lawyer. Rather, you would select one who specializes in slip and fall cases. The majority of personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee, which means that they do the work first and are later paid out of the jury award or settlement their clients receive.
Real Estate Law
Legal matters involving property and real estate issues are handled by real estate lawyers. The type of work each lawyer does depends on their expertise. Some lawyers represent clients in real estate disputes, which include zoning law violations and title disputes. Other lawyers only handle real estate transactions, such as buying and selling property or drafting legal documents related to the sale. Also, real estate lawyer may focus solely on commercial or residential real estate.
Tax lawyers help individuals and businesses follow federal and state laws regarding tax return filings. Some tax lawyers also do work in estate planning.
Bankruptcy lawyers are focused on resolving the debts of clients. They may represent clients filing for personal or business bankruptcy. Additionally, they may represent clients who are creditors seeking to get paid in a bankruptcy petition.