Career Guide | What Do Lawyers Do?

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Lawyers are important workers in the legal system. They are our representation, our counselors, and our guides through legal matters.

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A career as a lawyer also offers a job outlook of 6% growth and a median annual salary of $120,910 per year. Prospective lawyers can also spend as little as 7 years in their studies before becoming a practicing lawyer.

Common Lawyer Duties

Lawyers are advocates in law for all their clients. Lawyers represent their client in court and other legal proceedings. They also advise their clients and act as mediators in legal issues and disputes.

A lawyer might work for an individual person, a business, or a government agency. Lawyers are responsible for being familiar with the law and using their knowledge to guide, advise, and represent their clients before the law, helping them receive the best outcome possible for whatever legal situation they are in.

  • advise on legal matters
  • communicate with everyone involved in a case
  • research law and previous hearings
  • interpret laws
  • give speeches and presentations
  • construct and present sound legal arguments
  • handle legal paperwork
  • speak for their clients in legal proceedings
  • represent clients in court and other legal meetings
  • present evidence

Skills Lawyers Need

Interpersonal: Lawyers deal primarily with the law how it relates to other people. Because of this, lawyers are always working with others. Whether directly with their clients or together with their legal team, lawyers need the ability to work in teams and serve their clients to the best of their abilities.

Problem Solving: Lawyers help solve their clients legal problems. This task can be complicated and full of many important details and possible outcomes. Many different factors, variables, and important information goes into each case and lawyers need the ability to see through all the details to come to a solution for each new problem presented before them.

Research: Lawyers cannot commit every aspect of the ever-changing law to memory. So lawyers must have strong researching skills so that they can find whatever information will help their case.

Public Speaking: Lawyers speak in public very often. They speak to a judge and jury in a court of law, they speak in meetings with all the parties involved in a matter, and they meet with clients where they must talk through legalities and present facts and advise. In order to best represent their clients, lawyers must have professional public speaking skills.

Technical Writing: Lawyers prepare documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other legal contracts. To create these legal documents, lawyers need skills in technical writing so they can write clear legal content that cannot be misinterpreted.

Confidentiality: As a lawyer, you will be expected to keep personal matters in complete confidence. Everything your client discusses with you is protected under confidentiality laws that you will be expected to strictly keep as their lawyer.

Prosecution vs Defense Lawyers

Prosecutors work for the public interest. They do not work for private firms and instead for the government and the general welfare of the public. They are the lawyers who argue against whoever is standing trial. It is the prosecutions job to try and prove guilt.

Defense lawyers on the other hand, argue in favor of the person standing on trial. Defense attorneys might work for the government or for private law firms. It is their task to prove their client’s innocence.

What Do Corporate Lawyers Do?

Corporate lawyers are legal professionals that are hired by an entire company to represent and advise their business. They can also be referred to as in-house counsel, staff attorneys, deputy general counsel, general counsel, and chief legal officer. They represent the company they work for in legal matters and mostly offer legal counsel and advise so that the company can have success.

  • knowledge of corporate law
  • research business laws and law cases related to other companies
  • protect corporations from potential lawsuits or fraud
  • advise the business on their legal rights and requirements
  • write legal content for the corporation
  • draw up legal contracts for the company
  • file and organize legal paperwork

What Do Criminal Lawyers Do?

Criminal lawyers, or defense attorneys, are the lawyers who represent people who have broken the law, also known as the defendant. The defendant, or the one standing trial, might be facing criminal charges on the state or federal level. Criminal defense lawyers most often deal with legal matters like plea bargains, bail, probation, and appeals.

  • mediate mutual agreements between the defendant and the prosecution
  • speak on behalf of the defendant
  • manage their clients pleas, appeals, bail, and probation
  • analyze evidence for and against their client
  • select a sympathetic and fair jury for their client’s trial
  • work with all those involved in the case to get the best sentence outcome possible for their client

What Do Immigration Lawyers Do?

Immigration lawyers are the representation give to immigrants looking to enter, live in, or work in a new country. They often deal with applications for citizenship, visas, work visas, fiancé visas, green cards, deportation issues, and naturalization. They might also defend immigrant clients when criminal charges are held against them in a new country.

  • defend immigrants facing criminal charges
  • help clients apply for citizenship
  • handle denied immigration applications
  • handle deportation laws
  • advise clients who are immigrants to the country in which they reside
  • handle laws and regulations regarding visas for immigrant clients

What Do Family Lawyers Do?

Family lawyers deal with legal matter pertaining to the family. This includes things like custody and guardianship over children, divorces, marriage annulments, adoption, fostering, prenuptial agreements, alimony, child support, and anything other legal issues that might relate to domestic relations.

  • represent children and adults in domestic cases
  • mediate meetings between clients in a domestic case
  • negotiate contracts
  • represent youth in juvenile delinquency cases
  • represent children in need of government support and/or intervention
  • work adoption cases
  • mediate divorce settlements

What Do Divorce Lawyers Do?

Divorces can be a very messy business. Hiring a divorce lawyer to help you through the process can make it easier. Divorce lawyers can speak on your behalf and voice your concerns and desires for you in legal meetings with your spouse’s attorney. This can help make the whole process more professional.

  • mediate agreements
  • settle disputes
  • divide property and assets
  • decide custody and child support agreements

What Do Patent Lawyers Do?

Patent lawyers specialize in patent and copyright laws. They work with companies and individuals to protect their rights over their own products and trademark. They help their clients to obtain, and then protect their rights over their own intellectual property.

  • examine the invention, idea, or product
  • write up the official patent
  • take clients through the patent application process
  • obtain and finalize the patent

What Do Environmental Lawyers Do?

Environmental lawyers primarily work in environmental politics to create laws that protect and benefit the environment. They fight against environmentally harmful policies and fight for policies that will protect the environment and allow it to flourish. They also go up against any individuals or corporation whose practices might be against environmental law or adversely impacting the environment.

  • prosecute companies that are harming the environment
  • defend land, wildlife, and individuals who are being harmed by these practices
  • insure companies are adhering to environmental regulations and laws
  • create and promote policies and legislation that will better protect the environment, wildlife, and natural resources

What Do Paralegals Do?

Paralegals are legal assistants or legal secretaries. They are important members of every legal team. Paralegals undergo vital research to the cases their teams are covering and perform important technical writing duties to create binding legal documents, paperwork, forms, and contracts.

  • help lawyers prepare for law cases
  • outline case details
  • file pleadings
  • investigate the facts in a case
  • research public records
  • analyze pertinent research data
  • use technical writing skills to create presentations, and paperwork
  • file paperwork

What Education Do Lawyers Need?

Bachelor’s Degree

Lawyers first need to receive a bachelor’s degree to complete their undergraduate. They need a bachelor’s degree in order to prepare and be eligible for acceptance into a law school. To prepare for law school in an undergraduate degree, prospective lawyers need to learn English, public speaking, and government history.

Master’s Degree

With a bachelor’s degree, a prospective lawyer can then take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and get into an accredited law school. After getting a master’s degree or doctorate in law school, lawyers will then have to pass the bar exam so they can start practicing law.

What Certifications and Licenses Do Lawyers Need?

The main certification that lawyers need in order to practice law is to pass the bar exam for their state. Lawyers have to pass the bar exam for any state they wish to practice in. Their state might also then require lawyers to complete educational courses every so often to stay up to date on current laws and practices.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Lawyers.”

LawyerEdu: State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer. “Business and Corporate Lawyer.”

HG: Legal Resources. “What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?”


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

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