What Type of Lawyer Should I Be?
When we ask this question, we are not referring to whether you want to be a “good” lawyer, a “friendly” lawyer, or an “aggressive” lawyer. We are asking what type of law you want to practice when you graduate law school and pass the bar.
Some areas you may want to consider and explore:
Business Law Attorney
A business law attorney concentrates on laws that impact businesses such as forming new businesses; business tax issues; acquisitions and mergers; drafting contracts and other legal documents; employer-employee issues; and business litigation. A business law attorney can choose to specialize in a specific area such as business tax law, business litigation, debt collections, or corporate law or the attorney can choose to handle a broad range of issues related to business law.
Family Law Attorney
A family law attorney handles cases involving marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody, domestic support obligations, property division, paternity, and reproductive rights. Family law attorneys must deal with extremely emotional situations; therefore, this area of law is not for anyone who has a difficult time remaining calm when everyone around him is falling to pieces.
Estate Planning and Probate Attorney
Estate planning and probate law covers a broad area of the practice of law related to protecting assets, planning for your death or incapacitation, and protecting dependents who are incapacitated. Some attorneys choose to specialize in estate planning — preparing for your death or incapacitation by executing documents including a will, trust agreements, powers of attorney, health care directives, and a living will.
Other attorneys may choose to specialize in probate matters that include the administration of an estate, probate litigation, guardianships, and conservatorships. Because estate planning and probate law are so closely intertwined, many attorneys choose to provide all services related to this area of law.
Real Estate Attorney
A real estate attorney typically handles transactions related to real property including transfers of property, foreclosure, landlord-tenant law, evictions, title insurance, defects in the title to property, rights-of-ways, and property disputes. Some real estate attorneys choose to focus on residential property while others focus on high-end commercial transactions. Lawyers can choose to specialize in very exclusive issues related to real estate such as mineral rights, zoning issues, or eminent domain.
Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury attorneys are the punch line of many attorney jokes; however, personal injury attorneys are the men and women who help individuals and families who are facing one of the most traumatic, if not the most traumatic, event they will face during their lifetime. When someone is injured, it impacts every area of that person’s life from their physical and mental health to their ability to earn an income and take care of their family.
Most personal injury attorneys choose to specialize in a few specific areas related to injury law such as motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, product liability, boating accidents, workplace injuries, pedestrian accidents, bicycle crashes, medical malpractice, defective drugs or medical devices, or dog attacks.
Areas of personal injury law that typically require the attorney to have specialized training and experience include cases involving slander, libel, and defamation. Other specialized areas within personal injury include battery, assault, and other intentional torts.
Employment Law Attorney
Employment and labor law attorneys represent both employees and employers in cases involving wrongful termination, harassment, wage disputes, discrimination, and employment contracts. Typically, anything related to the employer-employee relationship will fall under the category of employment law.
Bankruptcy Law Attorney
Bankruptcy is a specialized area of law that many attorneys avoid unless they have specifically chosen to practice bankruptcy law. Once reason is the fact that bankruptcy law is federal law encompassing a long, complex set of rules and laws that the attorney must research and understand in order to represent the client. Attorneys can choose to represent creditors or debtors but seldom choose to represent both.
Immigration law is another specialized field that many attorneys shy away from unless this is of specific interest to them due to the complicated rules and laws regarding immigration issues. An attorney practicing in this area of law may handle issues related to Alien Labor Certification, applications and appeals to adjust a person’s Status to Stay in the United States, applications for citizenship, defending employers charged with violating immigration laws, and deportation disputes.
Criminal Law Attorney
Criminal law attorneys, just like bankruptcy attorneys, can choose to represent one side or the other side but very rarely choose to represent both. You have criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors. Prosecutors work for local, state, and federal agencies charged with representing the government in criminal cases. Criminal defense lawyers can choose private practice or they can work for the public defender’s office.
Tax Law Attorney
Tax attorneys can choose to practice business tax law, personal tax law, or a combination of both. Tax attorneys can help clients who are facing audits, appealing decisions regarding taxes owed, defend tax liens, and work with clients to determine ways to lower their tax liability.
Other Areas of Law
As an attorney, you can choose to practice in area of law. Other areas of law you may choose to research when making a decision about your future and your career include but are not limited to:
- Civil Rights Attorney
- Environmental Law Attorney
- Military Attorney
- Charitable or Public Interest Attorney
- Toxic Tort Attorney
- Finance & Securities Attorney
- Mergers & Acquisitions Attorney
- Intellectual Property Attorney
- Traffic Attorney
- Digital Media & Internet Attorney
- Entertainment Attorney
- Legal Malpractice or Professional Responsibility Attorney
- Health and Insurance Law
- International Law
What Do You Do When You Still Do Not Know What Area Of Law You Want To Practice?
Choosing the area of law that you want to practice is a big decision. Your choice for your first job will clearly define the rest of your career. While some attorneys successfully change their field of practice, it can be difficult the longer you practice in one specific field of law. If you are unsure about what area of law you want to practice, meet with several attorneys who have been in practice for many years to discuss the pros and cons of their chosen field based on their experience.
Remember, just as with any question you encounter as an attorney, research is your first and best option for answering, including what area of law appeals to you the most.