Types of Lawyers: Everything You Need to Know
Various types of lawyers exist to cater to different legal needs. 8 min read
Types of Lawyers
Various types of lawyers exist to cater to different legal needs. The legal profession is comprised of attorneys, LLM lawyers, and paralegals. The American Bar Association membership is dedicated to the ethical and professional practice of law in its specialized fields. Law students may serve as clerks or legal researchers in preparation for their careers as lawyers. The following is a list of types of lawyers:
Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal Injury lawyer specializes in tort law litigation, and represents clients in complaint of injuries caused by another party(s). Trial lawyers, personal injury attorneys take cases that are (a) Personal injury resulting in physical harm or death of a family member; (b) Medical malpractice; (c) Assault and battery (d) insurer's denial of payment for medical expenses associated with the hospitalization or physician’s care of an insured party who has sustained injury; (e) Defamation, libel and slander; (e) Product liability; and (f) Injuries occurring on the property of an accused party. The average annual salary of a personal injury lawyer is between $80,000 and $164,000.
Toxic Tort Lawyer
Toxic tort lawyers specialize in cases involving victim exposure to hazardous chemicals or other environmentally toxic conditions. Representing injured plaintiff(s) or a defendant party, toxic tort lawyers litigate and negotiate settlements on behalf of clients in cases associated with a manufacturer of a defective product, drug or chemical. Classified as personal injury attorneys when representing plaintiffs, toxic tort lawyers are responsible for due diligence on client’ claims involving the gathering and analysis of medical records, and preceding cases related to a toxin.
Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate Planning Lawyers specialize as executors of wills and trusts in representation of estate planning clients. These attorneys are generally responsible for setting up a trust for a client that will later cover the client's children as beneficiaries. Estate law attorneys also provide counsel on retirement plans, life insurance, and charitable contributions. If an estate is subject to probate court filing, an estate law lawyer will also be responsible for litigating the case. Estate law lawyers earn an annual median wage of about $95,000.
Bankruptcy Lawyers counsel clients on eligibility for bankruptcy. Counsel concerns types of bankruptcy best suited for the specific circumstances of the client, as well as legal alternatives to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy attorneys represent individual and corporate debtors and creditors, as well as creditors' committees, and bankruptcy trustees. Bankruptcies are classified under (a) Chapter 7, when a client liquidates assets to eliminate debts); (b) Chapter 11, restructuring debts to meet obligations; and (3) Chapter 13, corporate restructuring of debt to meet obligations. Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 restructuring of debt to meeting obligations does not usually entail liquidation of assets. The average salary of a bankruptcy lawyer is $113,000, annually.
Intellectual Property Lawyer
Intellectual Property Lawyer or IP attorney gives counsel to clients on issues related to tangible or intangible ideas, inventions, or other intellectual property. The three main areas of regulatory legislation relevant to intellectual property law practice are copyright, trademark, and patent. Patent law requires additional licensing and a technical background in chemistry, engineering, life sciences, or software development.
Employment or Labor Lawyer
An employment or labor attorney counsels on legal issues arising from an employment contract, or during an employment agreement. Employment lawyers who advise employees, represent them in cases for: (a) Sexual harassment (b) Termination of employment (c) Worker’s compensation; (d) Wage and overtime standards; (e) Workplace safety; (f) Privacy rights; and (g) Discrimination; (h) Employee benefits. Employment lawyer annual median salaries are approximately $144,000.
Corporate or Business Lawyer
A corporate or business lawyer provides business owners with counsel on formation of a corporation, and corporate governance and compliance issues. Often employed as In-House Counsel, Chief Legal Officer, Staff Attorney, Deputy General Counsel, or General Counsel they serve as officers of a corporation, and are not owners. Corporate lawyers working for firms specialize in different areas of business in counsel of corporations on employment, trademarks, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, x securities, tax law bankruptcy, and international commercial law. Depending on specialization, corporate attorneys are classified as business litigation or business transactional lawyers.
Business transactional attorneys negotiate deals and draft contracts. Business litigation attorneys counsel corporations filing or involved in litigation cases. The median annual salary for most corporate lawyers is $180,000.
Mergers & Acquisitions Lawyer (M&A)
Mergers and acquisition (M&A) lawyers are responsible for counsel of the buying and selling of companies. M&A attorneys are specialists in law required for the structuring of contracts (i.e. finance and securities law, and tax law).
Property / Real Estate Lawyer
Real estate lawyers act as litigators or are responsible for counsel on real estate transactions. The average median salary for a real estate attorney is $118,000.
Public Interest Lawyer
Public interest lawyers work with international organizations, education institutions, and nonprofit organizations performing legal services for those clients, usually at reduced rates or pro bono. Public interest attorneys may also serve with a county public defender, taking on criminal law clients unable to afford legal representation.
Immigration lawyers specialize in immigration issues related to green card filing, employment-based immigrant visas, acquisition of U.S. citizenship, political asylum or refugee status, deportation, and with foreign companies establishing business registration. The average annual wage for immigration attorneys is $130,000.
There are three types of criminal lawyers, 1) Prosecutors Attorney, 2) Public Defense Attorney, and 3) Private Defense Attorney. A criminal lawyer specializes in criminal law, and represents clients in due process from point of arrest, to of bail, arraignment, pleas and trial should the case proceed without conviction and sentencing at plea stage.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice attorneys represent doctors or clients involved in a complaint of physician misconduct. Medical misdiagnosis, medical mistake, inaccurate treatment or battery (I.e. touching) where expressly disallowed by a patient in an informed consent agreement, are the basis to most medical malpractice cases.
Legal Malpractice or Professional Responsibility Lawyer
Legal Malpractice or Professional Responsibility lawyers are involved in attorney litigation cases involving legal malpractice where there is complaint of violation or failure to uphold their duties to a reasonable standard of professional care as circumscribed by law.
Tax attorneys specialize in federal, state and local tax law practice rules, and counsel individuals and businesses on specific tax issues, or represent clients in a taxation related case.
Family & Divorce Lawyer
Family and divorce lawyers advise clients on child custody, child support, and the division of assets and debt between divorcing spouses. The annual average salary of a family and divorce attorney is about $100,000.
Workers Compensation Lawyer
Workers Compensation attorneys specialize representing clients in workers compensation law claims, determining the extent of the employer’s culpability and estimated amount of compensatory remedies.
Contract lawyers specialize in advising clients in the formation of contracts, on contractual issues, and in litigation cases where a tortious contract violation has occurred.
Social Security Disability Lawyer
Social Security Disability Lawyers specialize in advising Social Security Disability clients in establishing eligibility and petition filing, and in appellate petition filing where benefits have been terminated or otherwise denied.
Civil Litigation Lawyer
Civil litigation are tort law attorneys specializing in an area of practice that advises plaintiff or defendant clients in a lawsuit. Most civil litigation attorneys specialize in a field of litigation practice, such as corporate litigation, commercial litigation, or environmental litigation.
Civil Rights Lawyer
Civil rights lawyers represent clients in complaint of civil rights violations by the state or other authority. The term “civil rights” is derived from the Latin ius civis (i.e. “rights of citizens”). Civil rights lawyers represent plaintiffs in cases of discrimination and harassment on grounds of age, race, gender, national origin, physical or mental disability, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or status as a member of the uniformed services. Individual rights to privacy and freedom of thought, expression, speech, movement, religion, and the press are also defined under civil rights law. Civil rights lawyers do not represent human rights complaints in the United States, as federal civil rights legislation is not a statutory incorporation of international human rights law. The average annual salary of a civil rights attorney is $110,000.
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal defense lawyers represent defendants in criminal law proceedings, including due diligence investigations, court discovery in preparation for trial, state or federal parole board review requests while an inmate or parole is still considered “property” of the state, and in gubernatorial pardon requests. The average annual salary of a criminal lawyer is $90,000.
Traffic or DUI- DWI Lawyer
Traffic or DUI-DWI Lawyers represent defendants of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases who have been arrested and charged with “Driving under the influence” DUI or “Driving while intoxicated” DWI. The average annual salary for a Traffic or DUI-DWI lawyer is $70,000.
Environmental lawyers specialize in counsel on issues of environmental regulation, compliance, and legislative protection of natural resources.
Government lawyers serve as counsel in a branch of the government, federal, state, county, or municipal level. Essentially functionaries, government lawyers are public law lawyers that may also specialize in another area of law such as tax law for purposes counsel on matters of public finance, or tort law issues of regulation or litigation associated with eminent domain, harassment, or wrongful death complaints.
Military attorneys or Judge Advocate Generals (JAGs) are lawyers employed exclusively by the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy branches of the U.S. military. JAGs represent military personnel in civil and criminal cases.
JAGs are responsible for a range of legal activities, and may be involved in issues as diverse as advising commanders on military law, civilian law, international law; acting as counsel for court-martial, administration of legal discipline of military personnel; preparation of clients for trial; drafting and preparing contract documents; or technical writing and maintenance of military handbooks. The average annual salary of a starting military lawyer is $48,000.
Finance & Securities Lawyer
Finance and Securities lawyers provide counsel on issues of banking, treasury, investment firm, or companies selling stock. Finance and securities attorneys also represent corporate clients and individual defendants in IRS or SEC cases.
Digital Media & Internet Lawyer
Digital media and Internet attorneys specialize in legal matters of technology and the Internet, representing clients in cases concerning copyright laws and issues of piracy; website terms and conditions; internet privacy; and protection of children from online predators.
Entertainment lawyers represent clients in cases where entertainment contracts are the matter of litigation. Entertainment attorneys advise clients, draft and review management contracts, trademark licensing agreements, contract issues of apportionment or royalties connected to any creative or other aspect in the entertainment business.
General Practice Lawyer
General practice lawyers are skilled at counsel and representation of clients in a range of legal specializations, providing handling of documents, filings, depositions, due diligence, discovery, representation, as well as consultation of clients in areas of regulation and compliance.
Paralegal are legal administrative assistants who have qualified by exam for credential or license depending on state jurisdiction of practice.
Inquiries about types of lawyer practice in the United States, may post your legal need at the UpCounsel marketplace. UpCounsel lawyers represent the top 5 percent attorneys in the United States, graduating from top law schools such as Harvard Law School and Yale Law School. UpCounsel attorneys have an average 14 years of legal experience, and have represented corporate clients like Google and Stripe.