The terms “attorney” and “lawyer” are often used interchangeably, but there’s one key difference between the two. Lawyers have completed law school, but can’t provide legal advice or represent someone in court. Attorneys, on the other hand, have also completed law school, as well as passed the bar exam in their state of practice. All attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys.
There may come a time when you need to hire one or the other, and here’s a look at eight types of lawyers/attorneys and when to hire them.
Types Of Lawyers/Attorneys
#1: Bankruptcy Lawyer
Bankruptcy lawyers are experts in handling insolvency cases for both corporations and individuals. As the name and definition suggest, you’d hire a bankruptcy lawyer if you’re filing for bankruptcy. The common causes of bankruptcy include:
- Reduced income/job loss
- Home/car/student loans
- Expensive medical bills
- Catastrophic damage to your home
Having to file for bankruptcy can affect anyone at any time, and a bankruptcy lawyer can help you.
#2: Business/Corporate Lawyer
Corporate lawyers handle legal matters for businesses and ensure that they comply with all local, state, and federal laws. If you own a business (or are planning to in the future), there may come a time when you’ll need to hire a business lawyer or attorney. The most obvious times are when individuals or entities file a complaint/threaten to sue, but you’ll also want to consult a business lawyer if you ever choose to sell, merge, or acquire another company.
#3: Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal defense attorneys are probably the type of lawyers that most people think of since they’re often portrayed in the media and entertainment. This type of attorney defends those who have been accused of criminal activity in court. This is the type of lawyer you’d hire if you were accused of committing a crime.
#4: Estate Planning Lawyer
An estate planning lawyer deals with real estate, wills, inheritance, and trusts. You would hire this type of lawyer to help provide you with legal advice regarding all of the above, plus making sure that taxes and other legal issues are handled properly.
#5: Family Lawyer
The most well-known type of family lawyer is a divorce attorney, as they handle issues related to child custody and child support payments, alimony, and the division of material assists. Although not all ending marriages result in the need for all of these things, they still do require legal experts to dissolve a marriage. If you’re not going through a divorce, you’ll still need a family lawyer if you’re dealing with other family-related issues, such as prenuptial agreements, adoption and guardianship, juvenile delinquency, and resolving family disputes.
#6: Intellectual Property Lawyer
In addition to hiring a business lawyer, you may also want to hire an intellectual property lawyer if you have or are planning to have your own business. This type of lawyer assists their clients with copyrighting, patenting, and trademarking both tangible and intangible objects, such as inventions and brand names, respectively. Their three main responsibilities are:
- To advise their clients on the best way to protect their intellectual property.
- Protect that intellectual property (though copyrights, patents, or trademarks).
- Protect intellectual property rights against infringement.
#7: Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury lawyers and attorneys are also another very well-known type of lawyer. Like criminal defense attorneys, they can represent clients in court but mainly work in civil lawsuits for those who have sustained an injury. Personal injury lawyers mainly help clients who have sustained injuries in car accidents, but they also help clients who’ve sustained injuries from:
- Wrongful death
- Workers’ compensation
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Class actions
- Birth injuries
It also depends on the law firm when it comes to what type of personal injury they cover. For example, some personal injury law firms only focus on class action lawsuits such as the Camp Lejeune water contamination and Roundup weed killer cases, while others may only focus on motor vehicle accidents.
#8: Tax Lawyer
Tax lawyers are experts in tax laws and regulations. If you have a tax dispute or have an outstanding balance with the IRS, you would need to hire a tax attorney. Business owners may also benefit from hiring a tax attorney to get advice for buying, selling, or expanding a business.
There are many other types of lawyers for various purposes, such as immigration lawyers, entertainment lawyers, and constitutional lawyers. There isn’t one type of lawyer or attorney that can solve all legal problems, so it’s important to know which type to hire and when.