Whether you are seeking the assistance of a lawyer or contemplating going to law school, there is a general confusion in the population as to what types of lawyers are there. Some people assume that a lawyer is a lawyer, and so any lawyer will be able to provide whatever legal services they need. While technically this is true because a lawyer is licensed to practice law (minus a few exceptions where further licensing is required), the law is so vast and all-encompassing that it is impossible for a single lawyer to effectively provide legal services across each different area of law. Much like doctors, where there is a focus on a specific area of the body, specific age groups, or specific types of ailments and diseases, lawyers typically specialize in one, or a few related types of law.
Below is a list of 18 of the most common types of lawyers (in no particular order) and brief descriptions of each lawyers’ law practice.
Business Lawyer (also called Corporate Lawyer)
Business law is quite broad, and business lawyers will often deal with several areas of law discussed below, including employment, intellectual property, and mergers and acquisitions. Sometimes these lawyers just focus on basic business legal tasks such as forming your company, while others are more encompassing and will work on all types of business needs from employment issues to tax compliance. Also, some lawyers focus only on small businesses and startups, while others focus on large enterprises.
Keep in mind that there are business transactional lawyers and business litigation lawyers as well. The difference between these two types of business lawyers are significant, in that business transactional lawyers handle transactions (such as negotiating deals) and drafting documents (such as employment agreements), while business litigation lawyers handle your lawsuits (such as when someone sues your company for violating the terms of a contract). Most of the time, a business transactional lawyer will not do business litigation, and vice versa, although there are exceptions.
Employment & Labor Lawyer
Employment & Labor lawyers are exactly as they sound; they handle issues relating to employment. They mainly deal with making sure businesses are complying with state and federal labor laws. Much like corporate lawyers, there are both litigation and transactional employment lawyers. Employment litigators are the ones who go to court to argue when/if a business violated the terms of an employment contract or state law, while transactional employment lawyers deal more with drafting the employment documents themselves when an employee is being hired. Some employment lawyers do both litigation and transactional work.
Finance & Securities Lawyer
Finance and Securities lawyers only operate in a very specific sector of law. They tend to only deal with issues relating to banks and individuals issuing money, or to companies selling stock. They can also help defend clients if the IRS or SEC files a complaint against a person or a corporation.