A group of veteran lawyers pose in front of a glass wall in the office

We often encounter lawyers through television, movies, or personal connections, but understanding what they do can be confusing. Lawyers in all fields deal with meetings and contracts, but their work varies depending on the type of legal practice. We’ve identified the ten most common legal practices in the United States, highlighting key similarities and differences between them.

The 10 Most Common Types of Law

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) law is a specialized field that deals with protecting intangible assets such as:

  • Copyrights 
  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Trade secrets

IP attorneys protect thoughts, ideas, and creations, ensuring that their clients’ intellectual property rights are not infringed upon. To become an IP lawyer, one must have a technical background such as a degree in science, math, or engineering, and obtain additional licensing. With such qualifications, you can practice IP law and enjoy a less saturated legal field compared to others.

Family Law

Family lawyers handle cases related to adoption, divorce, and prenuptial agreements. They also specialize in issues such as alimony, child support, child abuse, and guardianship. If you’re facing any family-related legal challenges, a family attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Tax Law

Tax lawyers assist with a wide range of tax-related issues, such as federal and state tax laws, import duties, tax filing issues, tax disputes and litigation, and estate planning and inheritance tax.

When dealing with the IRS or other tax authorities, tax attorneys can represent clients in court and advocate for their interests, helping them navigate complex tax laws and regulations.

Personal Injury Law

If you’ve experienced an accident or injury due to someone else’s negligence, a personal injury (PI) lawyer can help you secure the best settlement or award. PI lawyers handle cases involving:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Car accidents
  • Work-related injuries
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Defective products

The only way that PI lawyers get paid are contingency fees, meaning you only pay if you win the case, making legal representation accessible to those who may not afford it otherwise. The settlements involved in personal injury cases are usually pretty high, which attracts a lot of people to seek good PI lawyers.

Criminal Law

Criminal Law is the most dramatically portrayed on television. Criminal law cases involve individuals accused of breaking the law. Criminal lawyers represent either the government as prosecutors or defendants as defense attorneys, focusing on securing prison time or defending clients from conviction. Criminal law covers a wide range of offenses, from misdemeanors to felonies, such as drug crimes, sex crimes, homicide, white collar crimes, violent offenses, and property crime charges.

Not all criminal cases look like Law & Order, but at the same time, criminal lawyers face tough cases on a daily basis.

Civil Law

While criminal law deals with the government versus a citizen, deals with disputes between citizens that do not involve breaches of contract. These cases, known as torts, include trespassing, negligence, battery, and more. Oftentimes, laws aren’t broken, but civil wrongs were still committed that need to be resolved. 

Civil lawyers represent clients in lawsuits where the goal is to seek compensation for damages or to settle disputes, rather than seeking a criminal penalty as in criminal cases.

Bankruptcy Law

Bankruptcy lawyers specialize in debt-related issues, representing either the debtor or the creditor.  When people need to be pulled out of bankruptcy or need to work through their debt, bankruptcy lawyers are involved. 

Depending on the bankruptcy situation at hand, different types of bankruptcy lawyers are involved. Their expertise may vary depending on the specific bankruptcy situation, and they aim to help clients navigate the legal process and achieve the best possible financial outcome.

Immigration Law

Immigration lawyers assist immigrants transitioning into the U.S. by guiding them through the many required documents and forms, which are otherwise difficult to navigate without the assistance of an immigration lawyer. They also help secure work visas and collaborate with businesses to ensure proper documentation.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) lawyers navigate the complexities of businesses being sold, bought out, or merged. They must understand tax, transactional, and business law to ensure fair and legal handling of these situations. M&A lawyers are involved in:

  • Due diligence investigations
  • Drafting and negotiating agreements
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Post-acquisition integration

Their expertise allows them to successfully manage transactions and protect their clients’ interests.

Corporate Law

As you might have guessed, corporate law deals with corporations. These business lawyers work with corporations on matters such as taxes, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and employment. They may serve as in-house counsel, managing the legal side of a business. If you ever need help growing, ending, or organizing your business, corporate lawyers are who you will work with!

Finding Your Path in the Legal Landscape

The legal profession offers a diverse array of practice areas, each with its own unique focus, challenges, and opportunities. Whether you’re an aspiring lawyer, paralegal, or law student, understanding the most common legal practices is essential to make an informed decision about your career path. By exploring various fields and gaining relevant experience, you can find a practice area that aligns with your passions and skills. 

As you navigate the world of law, remember that each area plays a crucial role in shaping our society and providing justice. Embrace the journey, and let your legal expertise make a lasting impact on the lives of those you serve. Want to know more? Give us a call to speak with an attorney from Esplin & Weight at no charge to learn about your path in the legal landscape!