13 Different Types of Jobs for Lawyers

Lawyer and client shake hands in the office.

Pursuing a career in law offers many advantages. Fortunately, there are many career options available to potential lawyers. Lawyers are generally well compensated for their efforts; specializing in a specific legal field can be lucrative and rewarding.

A career in law has many specializations. The legal profession has an extensive range of law types, including general practice law, family law, and cooperate law, amongst many. A career in law requires a constant set of skills, including communication, mediation, and writing.  

Lawyers are also referred to as advocates and counselors. Law firms or private practices hire lawyers; advocates have the same duties as lawyers and represent the client in court. Counselors are mainly employed by corporations and act on their behalf.

Table of Contents

Types of Jobs for Lawyers

Familiarizing oneself with the different types of jobs for lawyers is essential if you want a profession in law; one must learn legal terms, acquaint with the various careers in the legal field, and know the different requirements for each state.

General Practice Lawyer

Lawyer giving advice to his clients.

General law practice (general practice) covers many aspects of law; the attorney is not restricted to a specific area of law. The different practice areas include criminal law, business, family, injury, insurance, property law, tort law, appellate work, estate planning, real estate, and litigation.

Typically, younger lawyers are general practice lawyers. After they gain enough hours of experience, they can find an area of law to specialize in. Focusing on one option of expertise is not a necessity for a lawyer’s profession.

If a client’s legal situation demands more than one area of legal expertise like family, injury, tort law, and criminal law, they will employ the services of a general lawyer. General practice lawyers possess a broad-based knowledge and skill set.

As general lawyers are well acquainted with handling various legal issues, they can provide a comprehensive overview and greater insight into the consequence and legality of things.

General practice lawyers are tasked to draft wills, defend their clients, deal with family law issues, negotiate transactions for small businesses, and draft a real estate and sales contract.

General lawyers assist their clients in an individualized, personal capacity and are trained to be mindful of the dynamic surrounding the client’s family and loved ones.

Contract Lawyer

Client signing contract with lawyer in the office.

A contract lawyer assists clients with different contracts; they give counsel from a proper legal perspective and indicate why or why not a contract should be signed, the legal consequences for the client, and the best course of action.

Contract lawyers oversee the legal concerns of establishing, negotiating, and executing a contract. A contract is an agreement between two competent, consenting parties that the court recognizes.

Contract lawyers could potentially get involved with litigation if parties to the contract disagree with certain terms at later dates; terms include interpretation or enforcement.     

Contract law is the assurance that people honor the obligations they willingly abide by and are legally bound. If a person fails, the commitment of the contract is known as a breach of contract. Penalties are paid if the terms are broken; this could be monetary fees or whatever is stated in the contract.

Corporate Lawyer

Corporate lawyer counseling business owners.

Businesses and corporations primarily employ a corporate lawyer; they counsel executives and direct them according to legal provisions. Mostly they advise on how best to avoid legal action taken against the corporation. They use their highly qualified skillset to edit, review, draft and edit contracts ensuring sound legality.

Corporate lawyers warrant the legitimacy of commercial transactions; they must be schooled in statutory law and procedures determined by government institutions. The lawyer is tasked to ensure business practices don’t contradict local, state, or federal law.

A corporation or business is a legal entity that is created and bound by state law. Legal business entities, including partnerships, publicity, and privately held companies, need the counsel and assistance of corporate lawyers.

Corporate lawyers direct and coordinate businesses on their various legal rights, duties, and commitments. Corporate lawyers advise clients, appraise contracts, participate in and observe meetings.

Corporate law endeavors to avoid the courtroom (litigation); their work consists of mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, venture capital, and securities. The skills necessitated in performing these tasks are excellent writing ability, interaction, collaboration, and negotiation.

Employment Lawyer

Employment lawyer mediating between employer and employee.

An employment lawyer mediates the disputes between employers and their employees. Their responsibilities involve reviewing employment contracts, defending clients, investigating abuse claims.

There is an assortment of roles enacted by employment lawyers; employment lawyers must explain the rights and responsibilities of employees, ensure compliance with the law, file complaints, litigation, serve in wage and hour lawsuits, employment class actions, workers compensation claims, and union issues.

Explanation of employment rights describes the rights afforded to employees. There are binding laws that apply to defending employees, and actions such as mediation, negotiation, and litigation are available to clients if the circumstances arrive.

Employers and employees must remain compliant with the law, the is tasked to the employment lawyer to monitor, assist, educate, record, and regulate. Federal and state anti-discrimination laws must be framed in the mission and objectives of every business. Environmental law obligations must be enforced through employment lawyers.

If an employee desires to pursue a legal course of action against a business, a claim must be allocated to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or any other government organization).

An employment lawyer directs and assists employees in filing complaints; issues like time limits, the correct agencies, and many other considerations are the responsibilities of employment lawyers.     

Employment lawyers serve in employment-associated lawsuits; Either they represent employees or employers. Employees go to court over wrongful termination, denial of benefits, wage-hour disputes, and discrimination.

Employers are represented in the litigation by employment lawyers if there has been a breach in confidentiality agreements or an infringement of non-compete contracts.

Associate Attorney

Lawyer employing an associate attorney in a law firn.

Associate attorneys are entry-level, junior attorneys usually employed by law firms straight from law school and after passing their state bar exam. Usually, an associate attorney works toward becoming a partner in a law firm after performing increasingly important, lucrative tasks essential to the firm’s functioning.

Associate attorneys must pass the state’s bar exam to practice in that state. There is an exception whereby the attorney passes the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which is at-present regulated throughout 13 states; if an attorney passes the UBE with a high grade, they can request to transfer to a different state.

Associate attorneys will aid with cases (investigate legal research), write reports and legal briefs, select juries, represent clients in the courtroom, assist in negotiation, and settle corporate disagreements; the managing partner of a law firm oversees the performance of associate attorneys.

Junior associate attorneys were once referred to as law clerks; this term is now reserved for the position that assists with research and writing in a judge’s chambers.  Some firms use the term to acknowledge a lawyer or non-lawyer who possesses expert knowledge in the firm’s practice but is not qualified as a practicing attorney.

Associates who are consistently denied the request for partnership will eventually be asked to leave the firm. Success for an associate attorney is determined by demonstrating proficiency in many different areas. Some firms keep a non-partner-track record of some associates, that although performing adequately as employees, will not be promoted to partner.

Associate General Counsel

Lawyer protecting his client on the judge.

An associate general counsel’s duties are to represent businesses, organizations, or establishments in court; they offer advice on possible legal proceedings. Typically, they are surrounded by a law firm’s legal team; their goal is to create strong cases for clients.

Associate general counsel structures the proceedings of corporate governance, instruct on legal courses of action, assess risks, and observe legal matters. They operate as mediators when engaging with external stakeholders.

The general counsel or chief legal officer supervises the whole team, the deputy counsel operates below the general counsel, and the associate general counsel administers the individual sections of an organization.

The associate general counsel offers immediate assistance to executives by giving legal advice. They team together with assistant general counsels, in-house counsels, attorneys, and outside counsel.

Family Lawyer

Lawyer giving advice to his family client in the office.

A family lawyer assists in numerous areas that involve family issues and domestic relation concerns; for example, defending and negotiating for clients in divorce, child custody, child support, and adoption/foster care, juvenile delinquency, child abuse or neglect, paternity, emancipation, alimony, and prenuptial agreement.

Mainly family lawyers handle divorce and all the different elements that comprise divorce proceedings, including partitioning a marital property, alimony and child custody, and support.

Family lawyers are responsible for drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and litigating relative issues. Some family lawyers act as spokespersons for domestic abuse survivors and perpetrators during criminal legal proceedings.     

Some family lawyers specialize in a specific field, like child abuse or neglect; most family lawyers encompass legal insights into a broad range of family matters. The family lawyer needs to be mindful of the sensitive nature when dealing with families.

The skills required of family lawyers to successfully perform their tasks include drafting and negotiating contracts, providing counsel, resolving disputes; they must retain excellent interpersonal skills and manage fragile emotionally charged situations successfully.

Social Security/Disability Lawyer

Disability lawyer assisting her client to receive insurance.

Social security or disability lawyer is responsible for assisting a client in receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplementary Security Income (SSI); these are two Social Security Administered (SSA) initiatives that compensate individuals who have a disability.  

Hiring a disability lawyer strengthens a positive outcome for one’s social security case. Dealing with SSA doesn’t necessitate a lawyer; however, it’s advised to improve one’s chances before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Representation can be in the form of an attorney or a disability advocate who has qualified for the SSA-administered certification and succeeded in other instructive and vocational obligations.

The clients’ circumstances will determine the level of assistance needed from a social security /disability lawyer; they can fill out forms, direct clients on the different course of action, and describe the details of the benefits program.

The social security/ disability lawyer can gather witnesses, prepare the client, and indicate the level of conditions that need to be met to qualify for disability. Added a social security/disability lawyer will be of value if the case needs to be appealed. 

Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyer giving advice on his client wearing a neck brace.

A personal injury lawyer practices under tort law; this area of law protects individuals from psychical harm, injury, negligence, invasion of privacy, distress, and financial loss. It operates as civil law and defends victims, suing for compensation and legally holding perpetrators accountable.  

A personal lawyer is responsible for representing clients who have been injured or harmed, injuries sustained in a car accident, workplace, or another party’s property in which negligence caused the injury. The goal is to receive compensation for their client.

The amount of compensation depends on your injury, the seriousness of the injury, the conditions surrounding the incident, and the parameters of insurance coverage. There is the added benefit of holding the perpetrator accountable.

Personal injury lawyers will gain as much information about the description and degree of the injuries and the level of guilt; information includes the medical costs, medical history, police reports, surveillance recordings, bystander testimonies, and legitimate government reports and files.

The personal injury lawyer will request the insurer of the liable party compensation. The lawyer will then review the offer with the client, give legal advice, explain the legal terminology, and strategize how best to proceed. The initial offer is seldom the only or last offer.

A personal injury lawyer then arranges a complaint; a complaint is a legal article that describes the nature of the client’s arguments. Facts frame the argument and support the client’s claim. Following this, the defendant is served the complaint (the person responsible for the injury- being sued).

The following phase of litigation is called discovery; this allows both parties to present their arguments, facts, witnesses, and police reports. The factual support that structures the arguments could potentially serve as evidence during the trial (if necessitated).

The discovery phase consists of depositions, petitioning evidence (whether in documents, witnesses, reports, photos, footage), and interrogatories. After this phase, the trial is set.

The skills necessitated for a personal injury lawyer to succeed in their career include oral advocacy, negotiation, communication, and interpersonal skills. Typically, the lawyer fees are dependent on a commission, determined by the outcome of the proceedings.

Intellectual Property Lawyer

Close-up of a copyright binder with blurred image of lawyer on the background.

An intellectual property lawyer assists a client regarding intellectual property rights, copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Intellectual property (IP) manufactures ideas into tangible commodities, like inventions, artistic endeavors, designs, trademarks, commercial trademarks, patents, symbols, and trade secrets.

Intellectual property is safeguarded by law, which empowers people to earn a living and recognition for their creative, inventive work. Intellectual property rights also serve the public interest as innovation in art and entertainment occupies a massive part of the market. Intellectual property rights nourish creativity and ensure that innovation can flourish.

Copyright law guards the rights of imaginative work in fine art, writing and publishing, the entertainment business, and computer software. Intellectual Property laws defend the rights of the individual or group creators and the financial acquisition of their endeavors; intellectual property laws ensure that the intellectual property can’t be stolen.

Trademark law upholds the rights of the creators behind trademarks, symbols, logos, or phrases designed and employed by an organization or establishment to represent the essence of their mission, objectives, services, and products.

Trademark designers can block others from using related designs; this ensures originality and uniqueness. Intellectual property laws stop infringement and prevent dilution. Federal and state legislation determine intellectual property laws; however, the Lanham Act is the primary source law that upholds trademark protection.

Patent law safeguards ingenuity in original inventions and technological designs. Patent law promotes innovation and invention. Patent law protects the creator from others manufacturing, benefitting, circulating, or importing the designer’s product, technology, or idea.

Trade secrets are clandestine strategies that businesses, corporations, organizations, and establishments engage with to assist in maintaining an advantage within their field. Trade secrets are for exclusive use to members of an organization.

An intellectual property lawyer’s role is counseling, protecting, and enforcing intellectual property law. Counseling clients are structured around the best course of action to safeguard intellectual property. In trademark law, the lawyer serves his clients by researching an array of trademarks proposed by the client and counseling the client on the best legal way to proceed.

Environmental Lawyer

Environmental law concept with mallet, light bulb, globe, and a stash of money.

An environmental lawyer is trained in a wide scope of environment-related concerns; they attempt to regulate water and air standards, toxic waste materials, safeguard species, waste management, biodiversity, and strategize to implement alternate green sources.

Sustainable development, global warming, and climate change dictate the current legal discourse; these issues are a global priority. Lawyers who are fluent in environmental matters are in high demand. Revisioning environmental law will dominate policy drafting and changes in legislation in the foreseeable future.

An environmental lawyer advocates on behalf of clean fuel and technology, water legislation, indigenous management of land, and corporate responsibility; there are areas beyond the United States that environmental lawyers protect like international resources law, the law of the sea, and international environmental law.

Environmental law is a complex, intricate, and overwhelming force that needs governance, administration, and management by many different legal divisions. First-rate oral communication and writing skills are a prerequisite to succeed in this specialized legal field.  

Environmental lawyers must consolidate the myriad fine details in a law case into a comprehensive, persuading argument that will cement measures to protect the environment.  

Biological, ecological, and geological facets of the planet depend on environmental lawyers to defend, speak for, protect and conserve; this is achieved through intensive investigations, much research, and collating the evidence into a discernable report.

Immigration Lawyer

Immigration lawyer assisting client with her visa.

The duties of an immigration lawyer extend beyond assisting people from becoming citizens in a new country; they also act to prevent a person from being deported. A lawyer offers legal advice on how to obtain a work and student visa.

Becoming a citizen is costly, time-consuming, and complex, and immigration lawyers aid by providing the necessary documentation, helping to inform and advise on citizenship tests, receiving immediate access to citizenship if the situation is urgent, assist in starting and developing a business.

Acquiring citizenship can take several years; therefore, it is necessary to have a lawyer to guide and speed up the process—an immigration lawyer aids in illustrating the right course of action and demonstrate how to proceed.

An immigration lawyer guarantees that the path to obtaining citizenship is substantially eased, facilitated, and expedited; they will indicate how best to avoid delays in the process.

An immigration lawyer is familiar with many of the varying facets of law and the different degrees of citizenship. An individual’s immigration status could influence and transect with different legal issues like family law, business and tax law, and criminal law.

Litigation Attorney

Litigation attorney giving advice on his client in the courtroom.

Litigators tackle civil lawsuits before, throughout, and after trial. Litigation attorneys are tasked with representing plaintiffs and defendants. Litigators oversee all stages of civil lawsuits, including investigating, pleadings, and discovery.

Litigators are present during jury selection, pre-trial, trial, settlement, and the appeal process. The roles of litigators differ according to the type of dispute, the experience of the attorney, and whether it is a plaintiff represented or a defendant.

A plaintiff is a person responsible for initiating a case against someone. Litigators investigate into plaintiff’s claims to uncover whether a lawsuit is warranted; this is determined by the quality and quantity of existing evidence.   

Investigating the plaintiff’s case include finding witnesses, recording witness statements, retrieving police reports, collecting all necessary documents, interviewing the client and the defendant, generally uncovering the details of the incident.

A litigation attorney endeavors to avoid going to trial as it is very expensive and time-consuming; they hold pre-litigation settlement meetings to reconcile the problem.

Conclusion

There are areas in the law profession that specialize in distinct aspects of the law; this is an advantage to choosing law as a career. Lawyers primarily draft, review, and edit contracts; they mediate and negotiate disputes, investigate evidence, and monitor and record proceedings.

Lawyers must possess excellent interpersonal skills, communication, negotiating, writing, editing, and drafting; these are universal abilities required from lawyers and are applied at numerous levels in different legal professions.

References:

Indeed: 15 Types of Lawyers: Legal Careers You Can Pursue

LegalMatch: Contract Lawyer

U.S. News & World Report: Tips on Contract Law, Becoming a Contract Lawyer

UpCounsel: What is a Contract Lawyer: Everything You Need to Know

FindLaw: Contract Law

Wikipedia: Contract attorney

FindLaw: What Does a Corporate Lawyer Actually Do?

Wikipedia: Corporate lawyer

Georgetown Law: Corporate Law

The Princeton Review: Corporate Lawyer

University of Kansas School of Law: General Practice

Free Advice: What is general practice?

Free Advice: What is a General Practice Attorney?

Texas A&M University School of Law: GENERAL PRACTICE

Rocket Lawyer: Do I Need a General Practice Attorney?

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Indeed: What does an Associate Attorney do?

JobHero: Associate Attorney Resume Examples

FindLaw: What is Family Law?

University of Baltimore: Family Law

New England Law Boston: Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Family Law Attorney

Georgetown Law: Family Law

HG.org: What does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do and Why is it Beneficial to Hire One?

AllLaw: What Will Your Personal Injury Lawyer Do?

The Balance Careers: The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer

ForThePeople: Personal Injury

Salary.com: Associate General Counsel

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WIPO: What is Intellectual Property?

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LII: Intellectual property

USPTO: Protecting Intellectual Property in the United States

New England Law Boston: Everything You Need to Know About Becoming an Immigration Lawyer

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LawFirms: 7 Benefits of Hiring an Immigration Lawyer to Represent You

Attorneys.com: What Does an Immigration Lawyer Do?

The Balance Careers: The Role of the Litigation Attorney

HG.org: What Does an Employment Lawyer Do?

Glassdoor: Lawyer Careers: How to Become a Lawyer

EnvironmentalScience.org: What is an Environmental Lawyer?

AARP: Do I need an attorney to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

Nolo: When to Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer

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