What are the different types of lawyers?

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Researcher: Ariana Arce​


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Journalist: Aaron Vivanco


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Editor: Daniela Polo


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What are the different types of lawyers?

Depending on their area of expertise or the role they play in a lawsuit, different types of lawyers handle specific areas. Read the following article to understand better what types of attorneys are out there, how they work, and which one is best for your case.

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12 Types of Lawyers: a Short Guide

It may not be easy to find the ideal lawyer for a case. Nevertheless, a good starting point is knowing the differences between their areas of specialty. Read on to learn which kinds of attorneys take care of each legal area:

Bankruptcy Lawyer

Bankruptcy lawyers help their clients reduce or eliminate debt, handle insolvency issues, propose solutions for financial restructurings, file for bankruptcy, and look for unpaid debt. They usually work for creditors, debtors, and bankruptcy trustees. They do so by applying the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Also, they don’t need to be certified in this field to practice, although some states offer this certification. 

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal defense lawyers defend someone charged with a crime, by speaking on their client’s behalf. Whether contacted by the defendant itself or by the court, these lawyers ensure that the liberties and basic rights of their client are upheld correctly. They work in court frequently, since these cases often go to trial.  

Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers represent plaintiffs who have been harmed by the actions or products of another person or company. These cases are usually due to negligence and can include car or work accidents, product liability, and medical malpractice, for instance. The attorneys in charge of these types of cases must prove that the alleged responsible party is liable and owes compensation to the plaintiffs. Many cases solve settlement, which is usually monetary compensation. 

Examples of these types of lawsuits are those against certain products that become a health hazard without the consumer’s knowledge. The people affected could sue the manufacturer and distributors of the product, under the claim of negligence. Many times, plaintiffs take the class action route, to strengthen their lawsuit and obtain a successful result in less time. 

Employment Lawyer

These attorneys represent employers and employees in cases about workplace discrimination, unpaid extra hours or holidays, benefits, pension security, and harassment cases. For example, someone who was unfairly dismissed or fired can find an employment lawyer to understand their rights and the next steps to negotiate or file a lawsuit with their former employer. 

An important distinction is that employment lawyers aren’t labor lawyers, although some of their responsibilities may sometimes be the same. Labor lawyers handle union-management relations, while employment lawyers work mostly in non-union workplaces. 

State planning lawyer

They are also referred to as probate attorneys and they specialize in all the processes of acquiring, transferring, and handling everything related to a state. They help their clients to prepare for unexpected life events by writing a last will and by setting up a trust. They also help their clients to reduce any inheritance or state taxes. 

Intellectual property lawyer

They advise their clients about any issue associated with intellectual property. They are specialists in the laws of copyright, patents, trademarks, and industrial design, among other similar areas. They counsel their clients on ways to better protect their intellectual property, which could be inventions, logos, literature pieces, artwork, and more. 

Family Lawyer

They work with domestic or family issues of all kinds, helping their clients through separations, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, prenuptial agreements, and property divisions. They draft contracts, write agreements, advise their legal options, and help resolve disputes within the family. 

Tax Lawyer

They are legal professionals specializing in tax laws and regulations. Tax lawyers represent corporations, accounting firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. 

They handle tax planning and interpret tax law that applies to their client’s situations. Among other duties, they ensure that those who hire them are complying with the newest tax regulations and that they are not paying more than is necessary. 

Immigration lawyer

They handle visas, citizenship regulations, and green cards. They counsel their clients regarding their legal immigration rights and duties and act on their behalf before the USCIS, the Board of Immigration Appeals, as well as before Immigration Courts. They also provide legal assistance to people who are refugees or seeking political asylum.

Contract Lawyer

They draw up and analyze contracts to ensure that everything is legal and right for their clients, whether it is a document that is about to be or has already been signed. They also advise the contractor who hired them on what to do next in case of breach of contract. 

These professionals handle personal contracts such as the power of attorney, purchase agreements, and residential leases. They work with business contracts as well, taking care of the legal aspect of sales contracts, nondisclosure agreements, employment agreements, and many more.

Corporate Lawyer  

They give counsel to companies regarding their legal rights and responsibilities, verify business transactions, review mergers and acquisitions, write and analyze company contracts, and ensure that their clients comply with relevant laws and regulations. 

Environmental lawyer

These professionals represent their clients in environmental matters. For instance, they advise their clients (usually corporations) about the legal implications of carrying out certain activities that may not be authorized by environmental laws and regulations. 

They could also work in government or non-profit organizations as advocates for the creation of environmentally friendly policies, on topics such as global warming, air pollution, water contamination, the use of land, and others.