If you are not employed in the field of law, it may be difficult to understand what each of the different types of attorneys are. Someone like Peter Howe, for instance, specializes in general law. So what sets that apart from criminal law, and when should you hire them?
Two Types of Law
To better understand the different types of laws there are, and therefore the different types of lawyers, you have to start by sectioning law off into civil law and criminal law. The vast majority of legal issues are classed as civil law. Within this, therefore, there are many sub-specializations, such as family law, corporate law, tax law, personal injury, workers’ rights, bankruptcy law, and so on. A general lawyer, like Peter Howe, will usually focus on civil law.
For some, this is a positive thing as it means that he is knowledgeable on many different elements of law, and is able to bring that all together. Other people, by contrast, would prefer to work with someone who specializes in a certain field. For instance, someone going through a messy divorce case would prefer to work with a family law specialist. The reality is, however, that many lawyers work for larger firms, and that they change their area of focus regularly. So a lawyer listed as a personal injury attorney, for instance, could be listed as a family attorney a few months later. An attorney that calls themselves “general”, therefore, is often far more honest.
Then, there is criminal law. Criminal law cases include DUI (driving under the influence), assault, robbery, murder, fraud, and so on. It is very rare for a general law attorney to offer criminal law cases, namely because the entire setup is very different. Rather than there being two parties on an even footing, the prosecuting party in a criminal law case is the government.
Becoming a Lawyer
Many people worry that they will chose the wrong lawyer if they have a case, be that civil or criminal. They shouldn’t however, not in the least because all lawyers follow the path towards becoming the specialists that they are. A law degree is a law degree, after all, and they all have to sit the Bar examination. However, if a lawyer does specialize in a certain area, this will have been reflected in the curriculum of their JD (Juris Doctor). This also means they are more limited in their field of work. A registered DUI attorney, for instance, cannot practice as a family law attorney, simply because they do not have the knowledge to do so. Once again, therefore, a general lawyer may be the better option, as they are trained in all aspects of legal matters.
All lawyers, regardless of whether they are specialized or not, are focused on making sure that their clients can be protected by the law. They must also maintain their education so that they remain aware of new legislation. Whether you want a general lawyer or a specialized one is down to your personal preferences.