Lawyers come in various shapes and sizes. In practice, most legal jurisdictions exercising their sovereign right to decide who qualifies as a lawyer. Consequently, the precise definition of the word “lawyer” can vary tremendously from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions maintain two categories of lawyers, sole practitioners and solicitors, while some others fuse the two into the single designation of “lawyer”. Each category has distinct characteristics, which distinguish them from other practitioners.
For example, a sole practitioner has the inherent authority to advise on legal issues but not the ability to represent a client in a legal case. A sole practitioner may include family law, corporate law, probate, landlord and tenant, divorce and other transactional matters. A sole practitioner may include family lawyers. Similarly, a corporation may include limited liability or pass-through entities, while a partnership may include general practitioners and agents. A bankruptcy lawyer represents only creditors in bankruptcy proceedings and other representation of debtors in other proceedings.
No two practitioners may be precisely identical in any respect. Therefore, no two lawyers may be considered lawyers in the same jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the core tasks of family lawyers generally include filling out appropriate forms for clients, arranging for necessary interviews with government agencies, and conducting background investigations on potential clients. Many family lawyers provide free consultation or may charge a minimal fee for individual visits.
Attorneys may also be family lawyers or divorce lawyers. Divorce lawyers represent only clients in divorce proceedings. Attorneys may also provide assistance after a divorce has been finalized, including organizing necessary paperwork and negotiating settlements between clients and their attorneys. In some jurisdictions, divorce lawyers also prepare petition letters for petitioning the courts. For example, if a woman files a petition to have her divorce granted because she was not able to proceed with the settlement arrangements that she desired, a family lawyer may assist in drafting the petition letter.
Likewise, a divorce lawyer may offer other legal services beyond those focused on completing divorce proceedings. Some lawyers specialize in criminal litigation, although most do not. Criminal lawyers pursue cases involving offenses such as murder, arson, homicide, rape, embezzlement, perjury, kidnapping, and assault, among others. Other criminal lawyers may include paralegals, who prepare documents and research cases for trial. Still other criminal lawyers specialize in forensic litigation, which involves investigating and identifying perpetrators of crimes, often through DNA testing.
There are many other specialties within the legal field. Some lawyers represent clients in civil litigation involving disability discrimination, landlord/tenant issues, employment law, family law, and criminal law. Still other lawyers deal with issues that fall outside of the realm of traditional legal issues, such as child support and criminal law. Some lawyers work exclusively with clients who have a bankruptcy attorney, while others provide all-encompassing coverage for all legal issues.
Lawyers can also provide legal assistance to individuals or groups that are unable to retain a lawyer on their own. In instances where a person has been denied access to the courts due to incapacification, a lawyer may be able to file a motion to reconsider the court’s decision to deny the individual admission to the court. In instances where a person is being harassed by another individual, a lawyer may be able to petition the courts for protection from harassment. A lawyer can also provide representation to people suffering from financial hardship. These individuals may be able to secure additional funding, reduce fees or avoid jail time due to financial complications.
When choosing a criminal lawyer to assist clients with legal matters, it is important to make sure that a lawyer has experience with cases similar to the client’s. In addition, lawyers should be able to provide information about any training they have received regarding the particular area of law in which he or she will be working. Some lawyers choose to focus on a specific area of the legal system, while others choose to specialize in a particular legal matter. Finding an experienced and qualified lawyer with a good reputation is important for clients who are serious about winning their cases.