There are many different types of lawyers (also called attorneys). At some point in time, almost everyone will benefit from understanding what lawyers do, their educational background, and what different types of lawyers there are. Among other purposes, the information is useful for those considering a career in law, for businesses that are hiring for their legal department, and for individuals who need legal representation or advice.
Education & Licensure Requirements of Lawyers
The primary educational requirements are the same for all lawyers in the United States. To become a lawyer, you must attend three years of law school. At most law schools, you have no power over what courses you take during your first year. Law students typically receive a set schedule of foundational courses from your school. During your second and third years, you usually need to complete certain required courses but can also take elective courses of your choice. Law students who know what type of lawyer they want to be should focus their electives in the subject area they plan to practice. Some schools offer “certificates” in certain areas. These certificates are not required to become a specific type of lawyer but can provide useful education and credentials. For example, a student that wants to become an environmental lawyer might want to pursue a legal education at a school that offers a certificate in environmental law. After graduation from law school, an attorney’s education is not required. To practice law in the United States, you must pass the bar examination for the state where you will be practicing law and meet other state requirements for getting “admitted” to practice in that state. Studying for the bar usually takes about three months. In most states, you must wait another two to three months to get results. In addition to the bar examination, prospective lawyers must also pass an ethics examination, and background check to get admitted. Lawyers can only practice law in the states where they have been admitted to practice.
The career outlook for lawyers has become less appealing in the past 10 years because there are many more law schools and lawyers than there used to be. This floods the market and makes it harder for lawyers to obtain jobs and decreases overall salaries. However, there are still good career prospects for industrious attorneys especially if they choose a type of law – like technology – where there is a growing need for lawyers.
Paralegals are not lawyers, but they are another career in the legal profession. In the United States, there is no formal education requirement for paralegals, making a career as a paralegal is a smart alternative for those interested in law but who want to avoid the time and expense of law school and taking the bar examination. Paralegals main function is to assist the lawyers that they work for. The day-to-day responsibilities of paralegals vary greatly. Some paralegals provide more administrative support doing things like placing court dates and deadlines on the lawyer’s calendar, writing simple letters, sending out notices, and organizing the lawyer’s files. Other paralegals perform more substantive legal work like summarizing depositions, medical records, and other documents, drafting complicated correspondence and reports, and even doing legal research. Although not required, colleges across the country offer degrees in paralegal studies and related subjects. There are also a few national examinations that paralegals can take to obtain a paralegal certification. Taking the extra step to obtain a degree and certification can help new paralegals find a job or a higher paying job. The pay of paralegals is less than attorneys, but a good paralegal at a large law firm can earn enough money to live quite comfortably in their location.
In our office, we primarily focus on these areas:
Estate Planning Lawyer
Types of Lawyers
There are many laws, and there are lawyers who specialize in about anything you can think of – from environmental attorneys to First Amendment lawyers to digital application attorneys. The following are a few of the many different types of lawyers in the Utah:
• Public Interest Lawyer: Public interest lawyers focus on helping society in some way. They may do this by representing individual clients who cannot afford private legal representation through legal aid organizations or other nonprofits. They might also be involved in drafting and promoting legislation to reform the legal process. Public interest lawyers work for nonprofits or governmental agencies and usually have the lowest salaries of all the different types of lawyers.
• Government Lawyer: There are government lawyers for every single aspect of government. Local, state, and federal governments all have attorneys on staff. Within each level of government, an attorney works for an agency. For example, on the federal level, the FBI has attorneys as does the Department of Environmental Protection. At the local level, permitting boards usually have an attorney to assist with their operations.
• Private Sector Lawyer: Private sector lawyer refers to the broad category of lawyers that do not work for the government or nonprofits but instead work for private companies and law firms. Private sector lawyers usually make more than public sector lawyers.
• Trial Lawyer: There are different types of trial lawyers. Usually, a trial lawyer will focus on an area like corporate law or medical malpractice. There are civil and criminal trial attorneys. Usually, attorneys decide whether they will focus on criminal law or civil law trials because while evidence rules are similar, the procedures for each type of trial are otherwise very different.
• Immigration Lawyer: There is a growing need for immigration lawyers as laws change, and many individuals have trouble navigating the immigration process on their own or could face deportation. Immigration attorneys might help people with the paperwork and process of obtaining green cards and visas. They might also help immigrants facing deportation actions defend themselves. Some immigration attorneys focus only on a specific type of immigrants – for example, some law firms specialize in helping athletes come to the United States.
• Estate Planning Lawyer: Estate planning attorneys help their clients plan for what happens to their estate, their assets, after they become incapacitated or die. Estate planning attorneys draft legal documents like powers of attorney, trusts, wills, and deeds. A large part of estate planning often involves considering tax implications. Because of this, some attorneys choose to go back to school and obtain an LLM, a post law school legal degree, focused on tax.
• Personal Injury Lawyer: This type of lawyer represents parties in personal injury disputes. Personal injury refers to more than just physical harm – it also encompasses mental harm that can result when an individual is injured. Personal injury attorneys may help the injured individual recover for their damages by suing one or more persons or entities. Personal injury attorneys are also needed to defend the people and entities that are sued after an incident causing personal injury occurs. The types of legal actions personal injury attorneys work on include medical malpractice, product liability, civil battery, and defamation to name just a few.
• Toxic Tort Lawyer: Toxic tort lawyers are a special type of personal injury lawyer. They work with people that have been exposed to toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and even toxic water and air. Asbestos lawsuits are the toxic tort that people are most familiar with and that encompass the majority of toxic tort lawsuits. These types of lawsuits are often complicated, so toxic tort lawyers usually do a lot of continuing education focused on keeping up to date and learning more about toxic torts.
• Civil Rights Lawyer: Civil rights attorneys use the law to help people protect their civil rights or recover damages if their civil rights have been trampled on. Civil rights are the core rights of United States citizens that stem from state and federal constitutions. There are different types of civil rights attorneys based on what civil rights they focus on helping their clients protect. For example, some civil rights lawyers focus on helping individuals that have been discriminated against for an unlawful reason at work while others focus on helping people that have been subjected to wrongdoing, like excessive force, by law enforcement.
• Criminal Law Lawyer: There are two types of criminal law attorneys, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Prosecutors represent the state they work for and bring criminal charges against individuals accused of committing a crime. Defense attorneys represent the people accused of committing a crime. Private defense attorneys are paid by the accused individual to defend them against the criminal charges. Public defenders are defense attorneys that work for the government who represent those who cannot afford to hire private counsel. Criminal law attorneys work in a fast-paced environment and are often in court. They frequently interact with judges and attorneys on the other side and often have to negotiate deals with the other side. Prosecutors and public defenders are usually paid a low salary while private criminal defense attorneys have big earning capacity because they are usually paid hourly for their work by their client.
• Entertainment Lawyer: Entertainment lawyers represent clients in the entertainment industry. Their clients could be individuals, like singers, or companies, like record agencies. Their work involves a lot of business deals. Most entertainment lawyers negotiate and draft a lot of contracts and deal with intellectual property issues, like trademarks and copyrights, frequently.
• Real Estate Lawyer: After the Great Recession, many real estate lawyers found themselves unable to find work. There has been resurgence in the need for real estate attorneys since the economy has recovered. Real estate lawyers have a variety of options for their practice they can help close real estate deals, represent parties when real estate deals fall through, and lawsuits are filed, and can represent clients in the process of obtaining required permits for their real estate deals. Some states even require that a real estate attorney be present at real estate closings which create a good market for attorneys in this area.
• Digital Media and Internet Lawyers: This type of lawyer deals more than just internet law they deal with all sorts of legal issues that arise out of the use of digital platforms like mobile phones, tablets, and computers as well as the internet. Issues range from ensuring a website complies with the law to dealing with privacy complaints to advising companies about how they can and cannot use tracking tools in their apps and on their websites.
• Legal Malpractice Lawyers: Lawyers also need lawyers. Legal malpractice lawyers work on cases where an attorney is accused of doing something wrong when representing a client and is sued for damages for the alleged wrongdoing. Some legal malpractice attorneys represent the clients that are bringing the suit while others help the accused attorneys defend themselves and avoid having to pay a judgment.
Types of Free Legal Services
Legal services are often thought to be one of the more expensive things a person may need during their life – next to emergency medical care and the costs of buying a home. Fortunately, there are many different places you can turn to for free or low-cost legal services, including free legal services provided by the government, law firms, and even law schools.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be dreading heading to court, especially if you do not have the resources to afford a lawyer. You may be entitled to obtain legal services without charge, however. Under the United States Constitution, you have the right to free legal services for your criminal trial if you cannot afford an attorney of your own. Often, these attorneys are appointed by a judge from a public defender’s office when you are formally charged with criminal counts. This attorney will be assigned to your case for the duration of your criminal trial, as well as your first appeal if you lose the initial criminal case. To find out more, you can contact your local public defender’s office.
If you think that you need to file a lawsuit to protect your interests, but are unable to afford a private lawyer, you may be able to qualify for legal aid, often called legal services. Legal aid organizations and attorneys often receive funds from the government and are normally tasked with taking on cases concerning the poor and impoverished. Because of their limited funding, however, legal aid societies and lawyers can usually only take on a select few cases. The lawsuits that legal aid attorneys normally litigate are ones involving denial of unemployment benefits, social security benefits, consumer credit issues, and eviction and other landlord tenant lawsuits.
Before you begin looking to obtain services from a legal aid organization, you should make sure you qualify. Often times, legal aid organizations only take cases from those who make less than a certain amount of money each year. You can look in the phone book or contact a local bar association in order to get in touch with a legal aid society to see if you may qualify for free legal services. Government funding to these organizations is usually limited, and because of this, they may not be able to take your case, or you may be in for a long wait.
Personal Injury Attorneys on Contingency
Many personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay anything to the attorney up front and the lawyer only gets paid if you get paid. Contingency fee arrangements are great for those who have winning cases but no real means of paying an hourly fee to an attorney. The way a contingency fee basis works is that you and your attorney will decide on a percentage amount of the reward that the attorney will get upon a successful lawsuit or settlement. This percentage is often in the neighborhood of 30-40%, but can vary depending upon your state and the laws governing these arrangements where you live. Keep in mind that this percentage does not cover the costs incurred by an attorney, such as filing and court fees. If your case does go to trial, however, and you are successful in your lawsuit, judges often award the costs of the lawsuit in addition to the judgment amount for your injury.
Attorneys working in private practice and in firms often set aside a portion of their time to work on pro bono cases. As with community legal aid clinics, pro bono services typically are offered to individuals whose combined household income is less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level. There are some exceptions to these income limits, which you would need to learn about from each pro bono program.
Often times you may find an attorney willing to provide free legal services if your case involves some issue of social justice. Social justice issues are easy to spot as they will have implications that extend well beyond the scope of your case and include things like sexual harassment in the workplace or freedom of speech. For example, if you are attempting to sue your landlord for racially discriminating against you, you may be able to find an attorney willing to work for you on a pro bono basis as this case may have a broader influence on the community than just your specific problem. There are a number of organizations that have legal teams dedicated to providing free legal services on social justice issues, including organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
You can find free legal services at many law school legal clinics that provide free legal services to low income clients by law students under the supervision of an attorney (usually a clinical professor). Generally, this type of pro bono work is offered in one or more particular areas, including family law, elder law, landlord-tenant issues, health care law, and financial assistance. Moreover, law students can provide a range of legal services including, but not limited to, research and writing, drafting legal documents, client interviews, negotiation, and court preparation. Legal services are an important consideration for any business owner, but especially for small business owners, who often face a number of legal hurdles. Protecting the owner’s personal assets from lawsuits against the business, ensuring protection for the business against discrimination, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment lawsuits, and handling employee contracts, copyright claims, and incorporation are just a few of the legal issues that commonly face small business owners.
Legal Services In Utah
When you need legal help in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506