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What Type of Lawyer Do I Need?

There are many different types of lawyers. They all have different personalities, legal strategies, ethics, and even specialties and practice areas. So how do you know what kind of lawyer you need?

We have included a large overview of these categories and examples of cases that each category may include.


These attorneys will help you form or dissolve a business. They can also help with contracts for the business and advise business owners on various aspects of the law.

Business law attorneys may handle cases that involve:

  • Tax advice
  • Business operation financing
  • Banking law
  • Acquisition and sale of businesses
  • Contract negotiation and drafting
  • Bankruptcy

Attorneys that practice in personal injury do a wide variety of cases. Generally speaking, any time that someone is injured due to the fault of another person, then an experienced personal injury lawyer may be useful.

Personal injury attorneys will usually handle cases that involve:

  • Car accidents
  • Trucking accidents
  • Slip and fall cases
  • Dog bites
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Medical malpractice
  • Premises liability
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Products liability

Criminal lawyers defend those who have been charged (or accused) of a crime. All crimes are prosecuted by the local, state, or federal government, private attorneys who do criminal work are always defense attorneys.

Criminal attorneys can handle cases that involve:

  • Assault and battery charges
  • Weapons charges
  • Domestic assault charges
  • Murder accusations
  • DUI and DWI cases
  • Traffic tickets
  • Expungement (sealing records)

These attorneys deal with anything that involves a dispute between an employer and an employee. Often, these cases will involve the employee’s constitution rights and may involve the employer’s insurance company. Workers’ compensation cases sometimes fall under this broad umbrella of cases as well.

Those who practice in employment law will generally handle the following types of cases:

  • Contract disputes or development
  • Wrongful termination
  • Sexual harassment issues
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Overtime pay
  • Discrimination issues (hiring and termination)
  • Termination and lay off problems

Those attorneys who develop wills or trusts are considered estate planning attorneys. They will help with inheritance issues after someone has passed away.

Generally, estate planning attorneys will help with:

  • Will disputes
  • Determining will or trust validity
  • Establishing trusts and wills
  • Probate issues
  • Administering an estate

Anything pertaining to family can involve a family law attorney. This area of the law often crosses into other areas of the law as well.

Family law attorneys may address issues that involve:

  • Child custody
  • Divorce or legal separation
  • Adoptions
  • Guardianships
  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Child support
  • Alimony (or spousal support)

Attorneys that practice in real estate law will likely touch anything that involves the sale, lease, or purchasing of real estate property like homes or businesses. They are sometimes engaged in litigation, but they are often more focused on contract development.

Real estate attorneys deal with:

  • Buying and selling homes
  • Developing title opinions
  • Buying and selling commercial property
  • Foreclosure
  • Landlord/tenant issues
  • Land use
  • Covenants
  • Homeowners Associations

Within each of these categories, some lawyers will specialize in litigation while others deal with transactions. Transactional attorneys develop contracts, wills, and other agreements. Litigation attorneys will actually go to trial to litigate a case in front of a judge or jury.

Many attorneys will specialize in one area or the other, but some do both. Both types of attorneys must be expert negotiators as well.

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