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What are the Different Types of Attorneys?

Understanding Why Choice Of Lawyer Matters For Your Type Of Case

Law Office Study BlogMost people don’t know that  personal injury lawyer isn’t typically great at criminal defense or contract law. Let’s clear things up. In law school, or while reading the law as an extern, the same classes/subjects are studied by all prospective lawyers. And each newly sworn lawyer makes the same 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.
  • The same goes for most State Bar-certified schools.
  • So, in general, most licensed practitioners are masters of the basics. (“Jack of all and master of none.”)

So does it matter which type of attorney is chosen for your particular legal claim? First, you must understand how massive law is now in its various subdivisions. Yes, there are specialists. Lawyers such as those who handle patent law are one class.

But there are also trial lawyers who focus only on a particular area of tort law, like mass torts.

Imagine the law is like a giant skyscraper. Each room of the building represents an area of legal knowledge:

  • “Negligence Law,” which would be a small room in the basement. And then, maybe a desk drawer would contain the legal know-how to navigate a bodily injury insurance claim, mediation, and trial in that tiny room.
  • “Wills and Trusts,” with its sub-areas, would be in a small room down the hall.
  • And then, for argument’s sake, make the first few top floors criminal law.
  • All the lower floors would be 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 personal injury lawyer for a PI case. But only so long as your lawyer is reasonably competent in their particular practice.

After all, you need someone with it would help if you had average skills for your case type.

Lawyers certainly are not all the same. Therefore, it does matter which type of legal expert you select.

  • Some lawyers are general practitioners who handle cookie-cutter types of cases. Usually, the arguments they feel are not always that complex. For example, this kind of specialist will be the one you call for a canned divorce or bankruptcy or a traffic ticket infraction.

The takeaway from this is that a particular type of lawyer may not always have the requisite training for your specific claim or case. So as a seeker of help, you must familiarize yourself with some consumer best practices.

Then you’ll be able to hire the correct type of help sensibly. So, for now, we will drill down into a few of the many types of lawyers. So let’s try to understand the similarities and differences discussed below.

What is a General Practice Lawyer (“GP”)?

Numerous types of attorneys have specialized knowledge in one particular area of law. And some even practice in a few different measurements that are related. As noted, general practice lawyers do not just specialize in one particular area. GPs usually practice simultaneously in various law areas.

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 GPs that limit the types of law they practice, this is rare. So some accept cases and cash from virtually any kind of client in many legal claims.

  • But by far, the most popular and notorious lawyers in our culture are specialized tort or personal injury, lawyers.
  • Movies like “Rainmaker” with Matt Damon are a testament to the reputation of the ambulance chaser injury attorney.

What Are Personal Injury Attorneys?

A Los Angeles personal injury attorney like Michael Ehline specializes in cases that involve a personal injury to your mind, body, and soul.

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 automobile accidents
  • Physical trauma, such as a botched surgery
  • Medical expenses.

In law school, these types of attorneys fall under your “Negligence Courses.”

But this area of law has many subdivisions and experts, from:

  • Mass torts
  • Vehicle airbag defects
  • Exploding gas tanks
  • Commercial vehicle accidents, and so forth.

The bond between these attorneys is that they know about handling cases of “tort law.”

So What Is a Tort Anyways?

A tort attorney is a personal injury law specialist.

  • According to the Cornell University Law School, a tort is a civil action that has been made against a particular group of people or people that justifies filing a money damages suit.
  • A crime is not considered to be a tort. (watch the video here.) A crime is a general wrongdoing against the public or state (Learn more.)

So one who is guilty of committing a crime may be punished with jail time. But when a crime is determined, the guilty party or their insurance agency may still have to pay monetary compensation.

Compensation is money paid to the party or parties that suffered the injury as reparations for the criminal OR civil act.

  • The District or City Attorney prosecutes crimes. The punishment for offenses can be a fine, imprisonment, or both.
  • A civil or private lawyer sues for money in torts. There is no jail time.

Are you getting this so far? Personal injury attorneys often elect to accept only specific kinds of negligence law cases. Most of them avoid hourly billing. So they don’t usually take on criminal clients at all.

Some areas of law they may choose to specialize in include the following:

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

What Are Some Differences Between General Lawyers And Personal Injury Attorneys?

  • A general practice lawyer doesn’t just apply their skills to one particular area of law. So this means they know a variety of different case types.
  • A tort attorney has specialized knowledge and skill in cases that involve personal injury and tort laws. So this means the knowledge they have about issues of bodily harm is more in-depth than a “GP.”

A general practitioner can be a tort specialist and arguably a better lawyer. After all, he understands better how all the law interrelates.

For example, elder abuse law cases have elements of crimes and can 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. So it can be a crap shoot.

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.

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