The legal industry offers multiple types of law for lawyers to pursue. Some lawyers pick their area of expertise based on personal experiences, values, or a general sense of wanting to serve the public. When thinking about starting your own practice, it’s important to have at least one niche specialization and add other relevant practices to better serve your clients.
Whether you’re interested in learning about different practice areas, new to the legal industry, or looking into diversifying your practice, here is a list of the types of law. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list as there are several types of law.
Corporate law includes anything related to a client’s business affairs. Corporate lawyers work with a mix of small, medium, and enterprise businesses to ensure they’re operating in a way that is consistent with the law. This includes writing contracts, intellectual property, managing and eliminating risk of liability, and staying up to date with regulatory laws.
Criminal law revolves around individuals who commit a crime and violate the law. This type of law is established by statute. A statute establishes the offense and three elements. The three elements of a crime include the act, the mental state of the individual, and causation. There are varying levels of crime; felonies, misdemeanors, inchoate offenses, and strict liability offenses. The level of crime is based on the severity of the crime and varying state or federal guidelines.
Criminal lawyers represent individuals facing criminal charges. This includes bail bond hearings, plea bargains, trial, revocation hearings, appeals, and post-conviction remedies. In general, the criminal justice system is a complex structure of laws that poses several challenges and great opportunities. Criminal lawyers often face high levels of stress based on the severity of a crime and often strenuous hours of investigation.
Labor & Employment
Labor and employment are often grouped together but have distinctive differences. Employment law mostly covers regulations or mandates between employers and employees. Think, Fair Labor Standards, Age Discrimination in Employment Act or Family Medical Leave Act. On the other hand, labor laws focus on unions and employee rights bargaining.
Another difference between the two is how lawyers spend their time. Employment lawyers may spend more time in the courtroom than lawyers who focus on labor laws. This is because labor lawyers are often dealing with government agencies.
Family and juvenile law focuses on issues related to adoptions, child support, domestic abuse, divorce, prenuptial agreements, and more. Like other practice areas, it may be in the best interest of family lawyers to specialize in criminal or immigration law. Especially, involving domestic abuse or citizenship-related to a child.
Healthcare is one of the biggest industries in the United States. As such, healthcare law and lawyers are lucrative to regulating the complex system. This particular area of law is very broad and covers a variety of cases. Healthcare law includes medical malpractice, abuse cases, insurance fraud, mergers, acquisitions and much more.
Lawyers who choose to specialize in healthcare law must have expertise in various regulations and patient rights. Healthcare is a unique area of practice for lawyers who are looking to challenge and grow their skill set. In many cases, lawyers must know enough about medical practices to prove or defend a case.
Immigration law specializes in all things related to citizenship or naturalization of individuals coming to the United States. This includes employment, green cards, visa applications, and more. Obtaining citizenship can be a tricky process and lawyers advise individuals on the steps to reach their goals (permanent or temporary entry), legally. Other areas of law that fall under immigration include asylum/refugee law and business immigration law. In some cases, immigration lawyers will need to specialize in criminal law when an individual violates the law and faces deportation.
Intellectual property law covers issues related to any design, research, inventions, etc. created by a business or author. Most common intellectual properties are patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
Tax laws are set in place and regulated by the Internal Revenue Service or IRS. Taxes can be a pain point for individuals at the beginning of the year but it can be an even bigger headache for businesses who operate within several entities. Tax law includes income taxes, capital gains, and tax evasion. This law in particular is heavily influenced by current legislation and regulations put in place by the IRS.
The legal industry is a complex structure that is constantly evolving. It’s typically in the best interest of clients for lawyers to specialize in many types of law. As their practice grows, it’s important for lawyers to create best practices and utilize software to best manage their practice.