Hiring a lawyer is never easy; but there is a decent chance that at some point in your life, you will need to do so. Lawyers are essentially advocates for their clients. The law is complicated and difficult to understand. In many ways, a lawyer essentially translates the law, while at the same time acting on behalf of their clients’ best interests. There are many different scenarios in life through which you would need a lawyer, and as such there are many different types of lawyers available.
A lawyer will typically (excepting situations in which the potential lawyer is able to study and pass the bar outright, which is not allowed in every state) go to law school for about three years. During that time, they receive their basic legal education. During this time, the student will ideally discover what they would like to specialize in and take additional seminars and courses pertaining to their potential specialty. They would also take this time to join legal clinics and take on internships in order to hone their skills and take on mentors of the same specialties. Once the student graduates, they will then take the bar exam in the state in which they would like to practice law. Only once they have passed the bar exam are they fully qualified lawyers. Even then, it can take years for a lawyer to become an expert in the field in which they would like to specialize.
Having a specialty as a lawyer isn’t just like choosing a major during your undergraduate degree of college. Lawyers take years of additional work to specialize in the fields in which they would like to specialize. With that being said, let’s look into some of the different specialties that lawyers can focus on, and when you should hire an attorney within those specialties.
1. Corporate Lawyers
If you are a business owner, it is very likely that at one point or another you will work with a corporate lawyer. Corporate law can be quite broad, and there are many law students interested in entering this field as it’s also quite lucrative. Therefore, you’ll probably have a high number of corporate lawyers to choose between. It’s crucial that you pick a business attorney not based on how inexpensive they are, or how quickly they can have an initial consultation with you. In fact, many of the best business attorneys are a bit more expensive, and for that matter a bit more difficult to reach. But that doesn’t mean that you should be discouraged.
Essentially, a corporate lawyer acts as an advisor for their clients. There are a lot of legal ins and outs that go with running a business. You could potentially be breaking the law without even realizing it. A corporate lawyer’s job is to ensure that you are following the law, and in a way, that best serves the interests of your business. However, a corporate lawyer does not technically represent you or any of your shareholders. Rather, they are meant to represent the corporate entity that is the business. Usually, they will spend much of their time reviewing contracts; they may be responsible for drafting the contracts, or for that matter negotiating them. They often also conduct the corporation’s due diligence when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. They’re responsible for ensuring that deals are in the best interests of the company. They may also help establish a company’s corporate governance, creating rules and the framework by which the company operates. Furthermore, they can help venture capitalists expand their portfolios, giving them legal advice about potential investments, and will ensure that their clients are following securities compliance regulations. The business world is complicated. Corporate lawyers are there to ensure that it is a bit less so.
2. Criminal Defense Attorneys
Perhaps the most famous type of lawyer is the criminal defense attorney. Criminal law attorneys are responsible for defending and advocating for their clients when those clients are facing criminal charges. The defense attorney will look over the case, research the facts against their clients, and in some cases, attempt to either prove their clients innocent at a trial. Quite often, a criminal defense attorney can help ensure that a case doesn’t go to trial; whether that’s because they are able to get the charges dropped, or because they’ve negotiated a plea deal for their client that helps them avoid harsher penalties. No matter what, it is incredibly important for those charged with criminal offenses to work with defense attorneys. Even if you feel like you’re in danger of being charged with a criminal offense, you should consider working with a defense attorney. After all, you have a right to a legal defense, and a right to legal advice for that matter.
Of course, it’s important to remember that not all criminal defense attorneys are dealing with high-pressure crisis situations, like murder charges. DUI attorneys also count as criminal defense attorneys, and in fact, this type of defense lawyer is among the most common. After all, a lot of people are at risk of being pulled over and charged with a DUI. The best thing that someone at risk of being given a drunk driving charge is to call the best drunk driving lawyer they’re able to find. Not only will this lawyer be able to represent their clients’ interests; they also can potentially get evidence thrown out, based simply on how that evidence was collected. For example, a good DUI attorney may be able to raise questions about the cannabis testing facility their client’s sample was sent, if their client is being faced with a charge related to cannabis usage and driving. What was previously damning evidence could become legally questionable. If you’re deciding between getting in touch with a good defense lawyer and a bail bond service, certainly prioritize both; but make sure that the lawyer is your first call.
3. Divorce Attorneys
The reality is that divorce is quite common in the United States. Although there is technically no legal requirement to get in touch with a divorce attorney to help you with your divorce proceedings, there are many advantages to doing so. A divorce attorney can act as a buffer between you and your ex, ensuring that your divorce doesn’t get as emotionally messy as it could. Furthermore, though you do have to pay for divorce lawyers, they can actually help you save money. A divorce lawyer is able to cut through a lot of the legal jargon that can make these proceedings challenging. Furthermore, they can do whatever is necessary to protect your assets during the divorce, and ideally, keep it from going to court. Though you certainly will need a divorce lawyer on your side if your split does go to court, avoiding court will save you a good bit in legal fees.
Some divorce lawyers focus more on protecting their clients’ assets. Others focus more on custody issues. If you have children with your future ex, you certainly need to make sure that you have a lawyer who is experienced in custody matters. The last thing you want is to end up with a custody agreement that damages your relationship with your children; or for that matter, to be left paying more in child support than you should. An attorney that specializes in custody can help advocate for you, and for what is best for your children. Custody attorneys do not solely work with divorce cases, of course. They can help anyone who is a parent, or who is trying to gain custody of a child. This leads us to another type of attorney…
Adoption comes in many different forms. There are private adoptions, which often involves a birth mother finding the right adoptive parents for her child through an adoption agency; foster adoptions, in which children are adopted through the U.S. foster system; and international adoptions, which are technically private adoptions but involve adoption proceedings between two different nations. Underage children can be adopted at any age. No matter what the circumstances of the adoption that you are considering, it is very wise, and often virtually required, for you to work with an adoption attorney. Adoption is an emotional process; but it is also a complex legal process.
Adoption attorneys are also vital in circumstances that involve inter-family adoptions. In many (though not all) cases family members adopt children after the biological parents have been deemed unfit or are otherwise unable to care for their children. Even with the familial connection involved, it can take years for adoptions to be finalized. An adoption attorney can help aid the process, and ensure that the adoptive parents can focus on creating their new families.
5. Immigration Lawyers
Immigration is a hot topic in the United States at this time. In order for legal immigration to occur, immigration lawyers must almost always be involved. The immigration experience is incredibly complicated, and people still have to live their daily lives while fighting to emigrate to a different country. Typically, it won’t matter if you are a U.S. citizen attempting to expatriate to another country, or if you are entering the U.S. from another country. If you want to become a legal citizen of your new nation, you should talk to a lawyer. Not only will this ensure that the process is much smoother for you; it will help ensure that you aren’t breaking the law without intending to do so. Many people who are living in countries illegally would rather be legal citizens. They just don’t know how to become legal citizens.
There are circumstances in which deportation is threatened. Although this can be incredibly frightening, don’t assume that you don’t have any power or any ability to change your circumstances. Deportation lawyers are on hand to help people who are facing this crisis. While there is no guarantee that a lawyer can help prevent you from being deported, you have a much better chance of not only avoiding deportation but finding the path to legal citizenship if you speak with an attorney first.
6. Estate Attorneys
If you’re planning for what will happen after your death, you should probably get in touch with a lawyer. This can be a difficult conversation, and few people want to have it with their loved ones. You can avoid some of these hard conversations by having your will planned out well in advance, and ensuring that your estate is properly planned with the help of an attorney. Estate planning can actually be fairly complicated, especially considering all of the taxes that your loved ones may have to pay when inheriting funds or assets. Your estate attorney will not only help you divide these assets up properly but potentially set aside some money that can help take care of these taxes. Furthermore, your estate attorney can act on your behalf after you die.
Estate attorneys already know the answers to these hard questions, and can gently help you make decisions regarding your funeral. An estate attorney can help you decide between a burial and an affordable cremation, for example. Furthermore, they can draw up documentation that will ensure that that your belongings and money are properly handled following your death. This takes much of the stress off not only you but in the long term, your loved ones as well.
Clearly, there are so many scenarios through which you may need a lawyer in your life. Those that are listed above are just a few of the circumstances in which lawyers are necessary. What is most important, however, is that you don’t hesitate to call a lawyer if you feel that you need one. Many lawyers offer free consultations for a reason. Take advantage of those, and make sure that you know what you’re doing legally.