For most people, there will come a point in their life where they will need the assistance of an attorney. Whether for help with a divorce, to untangle a complicated estate, after a car accident or injury, or for a civil lawsuit because of an employment situation, the average adult will wind up in court or somehow tied up in legal action at least one time in their life. Because of this, it’s important to know the different types of attorneys out there who can help out when you need them. To learn more about five common types of lawyers, read on.
1. Civil Law, Criminal Law, and Family Law
To understand the types of lawyers out there, it’s important to understand the difference between civil and criminal law. Most people will only need the help of a civil lawyer in their lifetime. Civil law encompasses legal matters between people such as real estate transactions, family and custody matters, business and corporate law, and more.
In civil legal actions, parties work to remedy disputes through settlements and mediation before taking cases to a judge. Howard Fensterman, a philanthropist and civil litigation attorney in Long Island, NY, is a great example of a civil lawyer who works to help clients remedy legal problems before they ever reach trial. From marriage to business law, Fensterman helps people retain what’s rightly theirs.
Criminal law is different. Involving crimes and the pursuit of justice, criminal lawyers work toward remedying wrongdoings in criminal courts. While it’s possible for the same victim to file both a criminal and civil case at the same time, they would need two different types of lawyers to handle each end of their case.
Maybe you plan to file for divorce and have children. A civil lawyer who specializes in family law would represent you in a divorce suit against your spouse. Because divorce isn’t criminal, you would only need one civil attorney for help. Able to help you and your spouse agree on a custody schedule, the division of assets and property, and being your personal representative in court, a family law attorney would be the right person to call to dissolve your marriage.
2. Probate Lawyers and Real Estate Law
Just bought a house and realized you have a broken well? It’s time to call a real estate law firm. Real estate lawyers do just what you’d expect: they handle transactions involving real property and the transactions that come with the buying and selling of properties. Many people get real estate lawyers confused with those who handle estates probate, but there’s a very big difference. Real estate is property, while estates are all property and assets owned by someone who has died.
Probate lawyers handle estates after someone dies. Another type of civil law, the probate process involves making sense of wills and last wishes for the deceased and their beneficiaries. Lawyers who handle estate law help family members, executors of the will, and the primary beneficiary through matters of probate court such as the division of property and going through estate plans.
3. Personal Injury Attorneys and Workers’ Compensation
If you’ve been hurt on the job or injured in a car accident, you’ll want to call a personal injury attorney. Personal injury lawyers and worker’s compensation attorneys will work with you to legally establish the extent of your injuries and get you just payment for pain and suffering, as well as loss of income. They can navigate the complicated process of dealing with health, car and other insurance companies to provide payment for medical care related to your injury.
4. Intellectual Property Lawyers
Intellectual property (IP) lawyers are civil lawyers who specialize in the protection of ideas, copyrights, and trademarks. Useful for business owners in the creative industries, they are the people to call if someone infringes upon a digital product or service you’ve created. An example of this might be a book, design, logo, eLearning class, or in situations involving plagiarism.
Perhaps you had an IBI photo storage device stolen, and later found out your materials were being pirated and sold on the internet. Suddenly, your favorite photos are being posted on social media without your consent. An IP lawyer is who you would call for a cease and desist order. They could help you prove you created the material originally stored on a hard drive or iCloud folder, and work to get you compensation owed for the theft of your intellectual property through liens on the defendant’s property.
5. Criminal Defense Lawyers and Prosecutors
If you are accused of a crime, you’ll need a criminal lawyer. In the United States, judges will appoint a lawyer to anyone charged with a crime that could involve jail time. Public defenders and private criminal defense attorneys will represent you in court and offer legal advice when it comes to making a plea of guilty or innocent.
On the other side of the law are attorneys who represent the state and work to seek justice for victims when a crime’s been committed. A prosecutor would represent, for example, the state of New York in a murder trial. The prosecutor’s job would be to serve as the trial lawyer arguing for the defendant’s guilt and victim’s justice.
At the end of the day, if you find yourself needing help with a legal matter, the best thing to do is a quick Google search for a law office in your area. Ask the receptionist for help in getting an appointment with an attorney who practices in the type of law you need help in. Most lawyers are willing to meet with potential clients and will provide a free estimate for services. At minimum, they can help you to understand your next steps in solving your legal issue.