While we all know the basics about lawyers, the truth is that there are hundreds of different kinds of lawyers that you may not be aware of. That’s why it’s important to understand the legal world and what makes each type of lawyer unique. Read on to learn more about four of the different kinds of lawyers you probably don’t know about, and how they can help you with your particular situation.
The solo practitioner, also known as a sole practitioner or private practitioner, operates his or her own practice without any employees. Such an individual may work out of an office or even remotely. Their practice is limited to one area of law and they must personally appear in court on behalf of their clients.
A law firm, also known as a legal firm, is a business organization in which partners manage individual cases and departments, like litigation or corporate finance. Some firms employ lawyers to work full-time for them; some (many?) lawyers have practices independent of their home companies; and some service all sorts of needs on an as-needed basis.
A corporate attorney deals with businesses. They represent companies or assist them in creating contracts, in order to protect their legal interests. A business attorney is often a specialist for certain types of businesses, such as technology startups or real estate firms.
They generally have a background in business administration or law school rather than legal practice. Corporate attorneys are best equipped to work on private company issues such as preparing an operating agreement, buy-sell agreements, and other agreements between owners, partners, and investors, and mergers and acquisitions.
A government attorney is a lawyer employed by the local, state, or federal government. Government attorneys may work in a prosecutor’s office, at a court, or as counsel for an agency or department. Government attorneys spend most of their time working on criminal and civil cases that are initiated by their employers.
If you want to become a lawyer with experience in administrative law, consider becoming an assistant city attorney. Local governments hire attorneys to defend against civil lawsuits and prosecute violations of municipal ordinances such as noise complaints and illegal parking tickets.
A paralegal or legal assistant is a professional who helps lawyers perform certain tasks to prepare cases for trial. Paralegals and legal assistants do not need to be attorneys but they must have specialized training.
If you are going to be employed as a paralegal or legal assistant, you should hold at least an associate degree in paralegal studies, criminal justice, or some other related field. Aside from office work, you may have to help with searching public records and getting signatures for subpoenas.
Judge is a term used for someone who serves in a variety of legal capacities. A judge presides over civil and criminal courts, in both common law and civil law countries, although some jurisdictions have merged them.
In common law systems, they may be called upon to settle disputes and mete out justice in addition to or instead of a jury, depending on their skill level and experience.