How Many Types of Lawyers Are There?

Especially because each state can have different laws and categorizations of lawyers, there is not a set number of types of lawyers. There can be frequent combinations of degrees and experiences lawyers pursue, such as lawyers who have combined expertise in family law with estate planning. 

However, there are some categories lawyers generally fall into, and better understanding these can better help you identify exactly which lawyer is right for your particular needs.

General Practice Lawyer

– an attorney who does not specialize in a particular area of law, but instead handles a wide range of legal issues. 

  • This can include areas such as criminal law, family law, employment law, and more. It is important to discuss a general practice lawyer’s experience in handling the specific type of legal issue you are facing, as different lawyers may have different areas of law in which they are most comfortable. There are many different types of lawyers available, so it is best to find one who is experienced in the area of law relevant to your issue.

Personal injury lawyer

-an attorney who specializes in obtaining compensation for injuries caused by other parties (including their negligence). 

  • These types of lawyers work in civil litigations and often handle cases related to car accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, and workplace accidents. Personal injury lawyers must prove that the responsible party is liable for the injuries sustained by their client and owes them damages. Many personal injury cases are settled out of court. If you have been injured in an accident, such as a car accident, you may want to speak with a personal injury lawyer.

Estate planning lawyer

-specializes in wills and trusts and can help you draw up a will to pass on your assets. 

  • These lawyers are knowledgeable in the areas of property rights, wills, probate, and trusts, and can provide legal advice and guidance to ensure that assets are handled correctly and that tax and legal issues are addressed. They may use questionnaires to help clients evaluate their assets and liabilities and make decisions about how to provide for their family members. Estate planning lawyers can help clients set up trusts to provide for their children’s financial needs and ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.

Bankruptcy lawyer

-can advise you on your eligibility for bankruptcy and the best type of bankruptcy (or routes for avoiding bankruptcy) for your circumstances. 

  • Bankruptcy lawyers are knowledgeable in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and handle insolvency issues for individuals and corporations. They may specialize in consumer bankruptcy, representing individuals or creditors, or commercial bankruptcy, representing corporate creditors and debtors. In either specialization, bankruptcy lawyers work to navigate solutions for financial restructurings, plan confirmations, and valuation disputes. 

Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer

-specializes in intellectual property issues such as copyrights, trademarks, and patents. 

  • These lawyers protect and enforce the rights of inventors, authors, artists, and businesses in relation to their creations. IP law encompasses a variety of areas, such as copyrighting, trademarking, patenting, and protecting trade secrets for both tangible and intangible products. IP lawyers have three main responsibilities: advising clients on how to protect their intellectual property, protecting their intellectual property through registration, and enforcing their intellectual property rights against infringement. These lawyers can provide advice on a range of issues related to intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design, and trade secrets.

Employment lawyer

can provide advice on legal issues related to employment contracts and employment relationships. 

  • These lawyers specialize in dealing with legal issues that arise from the workplace. This can include issues related to employment contracts, discrimination, harassment, wage and hour regulations, benefits, and pension security. Employment lawyers can provide advice and representation to both employees and employers on a wide range of employment-related legal issues. They can help explain an individual’s rights, assist with compliance, file complaints, and handle litigation. Employment lawyers often specialize in specific areas of law, such as labor law or employment discrimination.

Corporate lawyer

can help with issues related to the formation and governance of a corporation. 

  • Business or corporate lawyers handle legal matters for businesses, ensuring that all transactions are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws. This can include conducting legal research, writing and revising legal documents, negotiating contracts, and advising clients on their rights and responsibilities under the law. Corporate lawyers often work on transactional work, such as reviewing, drafting, and negotiating contracts and overseeing mergers and acquisitions. They may also focus on corporate governance, venture capital, securities, and other areas of corporate law. Corporate lawyers may work in law firms or in-house for corporations, and may specialize in specific areas of corporate law.

Immigration lawyer

-knowledgeable about visas, citizenship, and other immigration issues. 

  • Immigration lawyers typically assist individuals and families with gaining citizenship or legal status in the United States or with navigating through issues they are facing caused by not currently having full citizenship. They provide guidance on the necessary requirements for living, working, or studying in the U.S., and may also assist with refugee and asylum cases. Employers and employees participating in work-visa programs may also use immigration lawyers to help with the process of gaining legal work status. When dealing with immigration issues, it is advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer who is knowledgeable in issues such as visas, citizenship, refugee or asylum status, and green cards.

Criminal lawyer

is knowledgeable about criminal law and can represent you if you are charged with a crime. 

  • Criminal defense lawyers advocate for individuals accused of criminal activity and ensure that their rights are upheld within the justice system. These lawyers may work as public defenders or private attorneys and use the law to protect the best interests of their clients. They may appear in court frequently, especially if a case goes to trial. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, a criminal lawyer can provide legal representation and advice on matters related to criminal law, such as bail, arraignment, arrest, pleas, and the criminal trial.

Medical malpractice lawyer

can help if you have been the victim of a medical mistake. 

  • Medical malpractice lawyers specialize in representing clients who have been injured due to medical mistakes such as misdiagnosis or inaccurate treatment. There are three common types of medical malpractice lawsuits: failure to make the correct diagnosis, birth injuries, and medication errors. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine whether you have suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence. If you are facing the consequences of a medical mistake, a medical malpractice lawyer can provide guidance and representation.

Tax lawyer

specializes in tax law and can provide advice on tax issues. 

  • This can include working for corporations, law firms, accounting firms, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies. Their main responsibilities include providing tax planning advice, interpreting tax laws and regulations, conducting research, and staying up to date with changes and developments in the field. Due to the complexity of tax laws and their constant changes, tax lawyers must be diligent in keeping track of court opinions, IRS rulings, and other relevant information.

Family lawyer

handle a wide range of domestic and family-related legal issues, including divorce, child custody, alimony, adoption, guardianship, paternity, juvenile delinquency, and child welfare. 

  • These lawyers may draft contracts or negotiate on behalf of their clients, write prenuptial agreements, counsel clients on legal options, or resolve familial disputes. Family lawyers can work at small law firms that specialize in family law or at nonprofit organizations. If you are dealing with a family-related legal issue, such as a divorce or child custody dispute, a family lawyer can provide guidance and representation.

Worker’s compensation lawyer

can help if you have been injured at your job. 

  • These lawyers specialize in assisting individuals who have been injured or have lost a loved one in a workplace accident or due to an occupational disease. They can help with issues such as determining the employer’s fault and the amount of benefits to which the injured worker is entitled. On-the-job injuries can be severe and may result in permanent disability. Employers may dispute legitimate claims and require injured workers to hire a lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you have been injured on the job, a workers’ compensation lawyer can provide guidance and representation.

Contract lawyer

specializes in contract-related issues. 

  • These lawyers specialize in handling issues related to a wide variety of contract types and can provide advice on a wide range of contract-related matters. They can help with contract negotiation, drafting, review, and management, and can resolve disputes or arrange agreements between parties. If a contract is involved in litigation, contract lawyers can assist with understanding how the contract must be interpreted or carried out. If you are unsure about signing a contract or have encountered a problem with a contract you have already signed, a contract lawyer can provide the experience and expertise to help you resolve your contractual issues.

Disability lawyer

can help if you are seeking disability benefits.

  • These lawyers help you navigate the complexities of the Social Security Disability system. A lawyer who specializes in Social Security Disability issues can provide assistance with any step in the process, including eligibility, appeals of denied benefits, and reductions or terminations of benefits. A Social Security disability lawyer can help ensure that clients submit the proper paperwork before the deadline for filing a claim for disability benefits. Working with a disability lawyer can provide benefits such as obtaining persuasive evidence of disability, interacting with the insurance company on the client’s behalf, and helping to navigate the claim process. Disability insurance policies can be complex, and an attorney can assist with completing claim forms and understanding the terms and provisions of individual policies to prevent claims from being denied.

What Else to Consider When Looking for a Lawyer?

What types of lawyers are trial lawyers? 

Trial lawyers work to represent their clients in court and argue the facts of a case before a judge or jury. They may be involved in a variety of tasks both inside and outside of the courtroom, such as reviewing files, interviewing witnesses, and arguing motions. Some trial lawyers may also specialize further, such as in criminal defense or constitutional law. 

Do I need a lawyer with a lot of trial experience? 

Not all lawyers are trial lawyers. While trial lawyers specialize in representing clients in court, there are many other types of lawyers who do not focus on court proceedings. 

For example, corporate lawyers handle legal matters for businesses and may work on issues such as mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, and contract negotiations. Estate planning lawyers assist clients with creating wills and trusts, while personal injury lawyers help individuals who have been injured due to the negligence of others. There are many different specialties within the legal field, and not all lawyers are trial lawyers.

Not all legal matters require court proceedings, and since trials are costly and time-consuming, most people try to avoid trial if at all possible. Many types of legal proceedings frequently use alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration. 

Thus, some types of lawyers rarely go to court because the scope of their work does not require it. For example, estate planning lawyers assist clients with creating wills and trusts and therefore may only need to meet with you to draft and finalize your documents. Some corporate and labor lawyers focus on writing codes of conduct and other internal corporate documents and therefore do not deal with issues related to court at all. Depending on your legal needs, your lawyer may have never stood in court, and that is perfectly fine!