General practice attorneys perform a wide range of legal services but usually do not focus on a single area of the law. You will usually find a general practice lawyer in a small town, but big cities have them as well. You might consider a general practice lawyer as a “Jack of all Trades” who can give advice in many legal areas, represent you in common lawsuits and negotiations, and prepare everyday agreements and contracts. If you have a legal issue and aren't sure what type of lawyer should handle it, a general practice attorney is a good starting point. A general practice lawyer will refer you to an attorney who handles a specific practice area if necessary.
A bankruptcy attorney can help you manage personal or business debts you are unable to pay. Bankruptcy laws allow people and businesses to (1) get a “fresh start” by relieving most debts; and (2) repay the money owed to all creditors as fairly as possible. When you file for bankruptcy protection, all other legal actions against you are put on hold. Creditors cannot sue you, garnish your wages, repossess your car or home entertainment system, or start or continue with a foreclosure action against your home. There are different types of bankruptcy filings and each has its own advantages. Since bankruptcy can significantly impact your future purchasing power and credit rating, you should see a bankruptcy attorney to make sure the benefits of filling bankruptcy outweigh the consequences.
If you have issues with someone and want to sue, you will need a litigation lawyer. Litigation lawyers handle the litigation process and understand all of the ins and outs of the courtroom. A litigation lawyer can also help you decide whether your case is appropriate for a lawsuit, or if it might be better handled through the mediation or arbitration process. The litigation lawyer will research the facts that caused the dispute, and analyze them to identify the appropriate law and how it applies. After this preliminary review, the litigation lawyer gives you an analysis of your rights and an estimate of your ability to be successful in court. The litigation lawyer will know the information you need to present in court as well as the process, procedures, and deadlines you must meet to keep your lawsuit on track.
If you a creative person, such as an artist, author, software developer, inventor, or business owner, you can use the services of an intellectual property lawyer to protect your ideas, images, or processes from being used without your consent. There are various types of intellectual property lawyers: There are copyright attorneys who help protect your unique ideas in things like music, film, software, paintings, and pictures. There are trademark attorneys who protect your valuable logos, images and slogans. There are patent attorneys who help you get government protection for your inventions. There are also licensing attorneys that write contracts which set the ground rules for others using your copyrights, trademarks, or patents.
Employment & Labor
Employment attorneys focus on the many laws concerning the relationship between employers and employees. If you feel your employer has treated you wrongly as an employee, or if you're an employer who needs to terminate an unsatisfactory employee, you may benefit from the services of an employment attorney. Some professionals, such as teachers, policemen, and pilots, belong to labor unions, which have specific negotiation and labor law procedures that protect union members. A labor attorney will know which laws apply to your particular situation and how you can take advantage of the laws to protect your rights.
Consumer protection laws are designed to ensure consumers are treated fairly by businesses and protected against fraud and scams. If someone uses your credit card without your knowledge or consent, that is credit card fraud. If someone sells you stock by misrepresenting its value, that is investment fraud. A lawyer who practices consumer protection can help advocate for your rights in civil lawsuits or disputes to ensure that businesses are adhering to regulations. If you think you’ve been the target of fraud—or if you’ve been accused of committing fraud—a consumer protection lawyer can help you.
If you are suspected of a crime or charged with a violation of law, you may require the services of a criminal defense attorney to present your defense or negotiate a penalty. As different rules and procedures exist for different offenses, you should seek a criminal defense attorney who has worked on your particular type of case to provide you with the best defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows what information the government will need to prove your guilt. The defense attorney will also know what information you need to prove your innocence, including whether there are any legal rules justifying your actions.
Family law includes laws of marriage, civil unions, same-sex relationships, domestic partnerships, divorce, separation, property settlements, alimony, spousal abuse, adoption, child abuse, child support, child custody and kidnapping. If you need help with a family-related legal issue, a family law attorney can advise in family disputes as well as represent you in lawsuits.