Know the Difference Between Types of Attorneys

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In law school, or while reading for the law as an extern, the same classes/subjects are studied by all prospective lawyers, and each of them also make the identical oath to maintain ethics and professionalism. First year students must master the concepts of “Contracts, Torts, and Criminal Law”, across all American Bar Association approved schools, as do most State Bar certified schools. So in general, most licensed practitioners are masters of the basics, so to speak.

So does it really matter which type of attorney is chosen for your particular legal claim? Well, first you must understand how huge law is now insofar as its various subdivisions are concerned.  There are specialists, such as those who handle patent law, and there are trial lawyers who focus only on a specific area of tort law, like mass torts.

Image the law is like a large skyscraper, and each room of the building represents an area of legal knowledge like: “Negligence Law”, which would be a small room in the basement. And then, in that tiny room, maybe a desk drawer would contain the legal know how to navigate a bodily injury insurance claim, mediation, and trial.  “Wills and Trusts” with its sub areas would be in a small room down the hall and so forth. And then for arguments sake, make the first few top floors criminal law, and all the lower floors civil law, and you can start to see how the law is stacked.

So to answer the original question, yes, as a general rule, it does make sense to hire a lawyer, so long as he or she is reasonably competent in their particular practice for which you sought above average skill for the type of case you need help with as a consumer. They certainly are not all the same, therefore, it does matter which type of legal expert is selected. Especially if you are stuck with the wrong one.

Some lawyers are however, general practitioners, who handle cookie cutter types of cases that are not that always that complex, for the most part.  This type of practitioner will be the one you call for a canned divorce or bankruptcy, or for a traffic ticket infraction, for example. The take away from all of this, is that someone who holds them-self out to be a particular type of lawyer, still may not always have the requisite training for your particular claim or case. So as a seeker of help, you must familiarize yourself with some best practices for consumers and be able to sensibly hire the right type of help.  So for now, we will drill down into a few of the many types of lawyers and understanding the similarities and differences.

General Practice Lawyer

There are numerous types of attorneys that have specialized knowledge in one particular area of law, and some even practice in a few different areas that are related. As noted, general practice lawyers do not just specialize in one specific area, as they usually practice simultaneously in a number of different areas of law.

It is not uncommon for a general lawyer to practice in several or all of the areas of law listed as follows:

  • Security law
  • Administrative law
  • International law
  • Criminal law
  • Real Estate law
  • Corporate and Commercial law
  • Civil Litigation law
  • Tax law
  • Family law
  • Labor and Employment law
  • Constitutional law
  • Immigration law
  • Environmental law
  • Intellectual Property law

While there are some GP’s that limit the types of law they practice, there are others that accept cases and cash from virtually any type of client, in a multitude of legal claims.

Personal Injury Attorneys

A personal injury attorney [Click Here] specializes in cases that involve personal injury. In cases like this compensation is sought from those legally liable, for intentional, or negligent damages including

  • Psychological injury
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage such as with automobile accidents
  • Physical injury such as with a surgery that is botched
  • Medical expenses

In law school, these types of attorneys fall under the “department of Negligence”, but this area of law has many many subdivisions and experts, from mass torts, vehicle airbag defects, exploding gas tanks, commercial vehicle accidents and so forth. The common bond between these attorneys, is that they have knowledge in handling cases that involve tort law. A tort is a civil “crime” that has been made against a specific group of people or person that justifies filing a money damages suit, inter alia, according to the Cornell University Law School. A crime that is not considered to be a tort crime is a wrongdoing against the public in general (Learn more.)

A person that is guilty of committing a crime may be punished with jail time, and when a tort crime is committed, the guilty party or their insurance agency, etc. may be held responsible for compensation paid to the party or parties that suffered injury. Personal injury attorneys often also elect to only accept specific kinds of negligence law cases. Some areas of law he or she may choose to specialize in includes the following:

  • Medical accident
  • Automobile accident
  • Work related accident
  • Dental accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Assault/Battery/Rape

Differences between General Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys

A general lawyer doesn’t just apply their skills to one particular area of law, which means they have knowledge in a variety of different case types. A tort attorney has specialized knowledge and skill in cases that involve personal injury and tort laws, which means the knowledge they have in laws pertaining to cases of personal injury is more in-depth. A general practitioner can really be a tort practitioner, and arguably can a better lawyer since he understands better on how all the law interrelates. For example, elder abuse law cases have elements of crimes and even involve some probate issues. But in some cases, a GP lacks the specialized knowledge for a complex area of law, such as an asbestos case, that only a more targeted practice delves in on a day in, day out basis. To learn more about these issues, contact us at: 213.596.9642.