So here’s a question for you. What do you want to do when you grow up? Do you want to be an actor or actress, or a doctor, or an interior designer? Maybe you want to be a firefighter or a police officer. Or perhaps you want to be a lawyer. If that’s the case, here’s what you should know about what a lawyer really does.
The lawyer’s role in the legal system – an overview
Basically, a lawyer or attorney is someone who has the knowledge and special skills needed to help the rest of us by answering our questions about the law and giving us advice about what to do in different situations. For example, some lawyers can tell us about the rules for buying a house or starting our own company so we don’t break them by mistake. And some lawyers can tell us what to do if we get hurt in an accident caused by someone else.
When someone has a serious disagreement or gets into trouble, lawyers also help by getting their side of the story and finding evidence or proof to support it. They then tell the stories in court, and present the evidence or proof to show why one person (their client) is right and the other person is wrong. This is known as legal representation.
To do all of this, lawyers and attorneys must be good at solving problems and understanding a lot of complicated information. They must also know how to research different laws and understand how those laws apply to each client’s situation. Finally, good lawyers and attorneys must be able to write and speak well so they can present convincing arguments based on any research they have done.
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A basic explanation of the law
To fully understand what a lawyer does, you must also understand what we mean when we refer to “the law.”
To begin with, imagine a country where anyone could do whatever he or she wished with no consequences whatsoever. It may sound like fun, but in reality, it would just cause a great big mess. This is because all people need rules to guide the way in which we interact and behave. These rules are also known as laws.
In the United States, there are different types of laws. They are broadly classified as federal laws, state laws, civil laws and criminal laws.
The biggest differences between state and federal laws are how they are created and where they apply. In general, federal laws start out as bills that must be approved by Congress and the President before they take effect. Once they do, these laws apply to everyone throughout the United States. Each state law also starts out as a bill, which must be approved by the state legislature and governor before it can take effect. As their name indicates, these laws only apply to people within a specific geographic area.
However, it is important to note that both state and federal courts can also create laws. Specifically, they do so by making decisions by issuing rulings in various cases. This is known as case law.
On the other hand, the most significant differences between criminal and civil laws are the penalties imposed for violations. Someone found guilty of breaking a criminal law can be fined and/or sent to jail or prison, depending on the seriousness of the offense. In most cases, people found guilty of violating civil laws are forced to compensate the people who were hurt and/or lost money because of the violation.
Different types of lawyers
Because of the sheer number of laws that can be included in the general categories we just discussed, most lawyers or attorneys choose to focus on a specific area based on their strengths, weaknesses and interests. Here are just a few examples.
Personal injury lawyers
These lawyers help people who are hurt in car crashes, slip and fall accidents, motorcycle accidents, and similar incidents where someone else was at fault
They do so by interviewing the person who was hurt or their family member to determine exactly what happened. They also investigate and gather evidence to support the account. If there is enough information to prove that another person’s carelessness caused or contributed to the accident, the personal injury lawyer may try to reach a settlement with them or their insurance company. If that fails, the case will probably end up in court, where the personal injury attorney will represent the victim (plaintiff).
The goal in a personal injury case is to get compensation for the plaintiff. The amount awarded will depend on the extent of the victim’s injuries, and the amount spent on medical treatment, medication, rehabilitation, home healthcare and so on.
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A criminal lawyer is also known as a defense lawyer. These lawyers play a very important part in the U.S. legal system because every single person accused of a crime has a right to legal representation.
Criminal/defense attorneys rely on their knowledge of specific rules to ensure that their clients’ rights aren’t violated and that they are treated fairly if the case goes to trial.
While defense lawyers usually work in private practice, prosecutors, who also practice criminal law, work for the government and represent “the people.” It is their job to prove that the person charged with a crime actually broke the law, and see that they are punished for doing so.
These attorneys specialize in legal matters concerning parents, children, and marital issues. Basically, this means that they handle emotionally challenging cases involving divorce, separation, adoption, child custody, visitation and more. In some cases, such as those involving parental kidnapping, family lawyers must be familiar with federal and international law, in addition to any state laws that apply.
Some employment lawyers represent businesses of all sizes to ensure that they are not violating workers’ rights by violating state and/or federal laws. Others represent workers who have experienced harassment, discrimination and workplace bullying. They may also represent workers who claim that their employers have refused to pay overtime or committed similar violations. As a result, employment lawyers representing workers must also be familiar with state and federal law.
No matter which area of the law they want to specialize in, all attorneys must obtain a college degree. After that, they must pass the standardized tests required for admission to law school, and successfully complete a three-year course of study. Once they graduate from law school, they must also pass the bar exam in the state where they want to practice. Additional training may be required depending on the practice area chosen.