Lawyers And Their Specializations
At some time or another in your life, you may need the services of a lawyer. The primary purpose of lawyers is to understand and argue the law in courts for their clients, who generally do not have the same detailed knowledge of the law.
You may need the services of a lawyer for many reasons, but despite jokes about ambulance chasing and despite the steep cost, contacting a lawyer when you need one is critical to success in the court system. However, your best bet may be to find a lawyer that specializes in the area of the law that you need assistance in. Understanding why some lawyers specialize and knowing some of the specializations may help you to understand what sort of lawyer to look for.
Why They Specialize
Just as many doctors choose specializations outside of family medicine, lawyers also have the option to specialize in different areas of the law. The reasons are for the same as doctors; it can pay, both financially and intellectually, to specialize in a field. The lawyer may have an interest in property law in particular, for example, or wants to concentrate on family law in order to gain more familiarity with those sorts of cases and thus make a stronger attorney in court. Also, by specializing in a particular area of law, some lawyers can charge additional fees.
But, to warn the consumer, be sure to find out if your lawyer is board certified in their specialization. It's one thing to choose to specialize in a field, but those who go through the process to obtain certification have proven credentials in their specialization.
Areas Of Specialization
There are many areas of specialization for lawyers, each one quite different from the rest, though occasionally issues related to them overlap.
Family law relates to the issues surrounding families, as the name implies. Family lawyers work with marriages, divorces, with issues such as determining the custody of children when parents split up, and even handle controversial issues such as gay marriage and domestic partnerships. They can also handle disputes such as property settlements, in cases where inheritance is an issue. Family law is big business these days, and family lawyers may serve families at all economic levels.
Criminal law deals with the serious issues of crime and punishment. Criminal lawyers may handle cases that range from simple DUI cases to murder trials. The range is quite wide, and some lawyers may choose to work for the government as a prosecuting attorney, or as a private criminal defense lawyer; some will fill both roles during their lifetimes.
Civil law handles disputes between two private parties, as opposed to criminal law, which is between individuals and government jurisdictions. These are the lawyers you would call if you needed to sue a private party or a company.
And while a person cannot be tried twice for a criminal law case, it is possible to be given criminal charges as well as sued for civil damages. For instance, OJ Simpson won his criminal case for murder, but was ordered to pay damages for wrongful death in a civil case.
Making Your Search
Of these specializations, these three are among the most common. Should you want to search for a lawyer who specializes in the problem you are having, your best bet for searching is with your state's bar association, who usually keeps a directory of all lawyers, whether they specialize or not. If you need an attorney's advice, consider a lawyer who has specialized for their detailed dedication and knowledge for your needs.