The Top 10 Lawyer Types You’ll Almost Certainly Require

Let’s say you wish to sue a contractor for breaching a contract, or a competition for stealing your workers. What kind of lawyer are you looking for? Should you just pull out your Yelp smartphone and look for a lawyer with a five-star rating near you? If you’ve tried that, the highly ranked lawyer may have told you that he or she doesn’t handle the type of legal difficulty you’re having. There are many different sorts of lawyers, and determining which one you require is the first step toward finding the proper one. The lawyer who did such a good job drafting your will might not be the right person to take on your non-compete agreement. I receive a lot of calls from people who want me to appeal a criminal conviction, battle for custody of their children, or get them out of a traffic ticket, but I don’t do any of those things. And the lawyers who do handle such cases aren’t usually involved in the types of business conflicts and defamation cases that my firm does.

As a result, I thought I’d provide this quick-and-dirty reference to the ten most in-demand types of attorneys for most individuals and small businesses. If you need legal counsel or representation but aren’t sure what kind of lawyer you need, look through the descriptions below, identify the legal issue you’re facing, and then refine your search to the type of lawyer who best fits your needs.

1. Lawyer for Civil Litigation (a.k.a. Trial Attorney)

You’ve been served with a lawsuit. A process server arrived at your door and served you with papers ordering you to appear in court to defend yourself against a lawsuit filed by another company or individual. (Note: if the suit papers state that the “Commonwealth” or “State” began the proceedings, the case is almost certainly criminal in nature and requires a different type of lawyer.) Or perhaps someone has damaged you and you want to sue them. Perhaps your small business gave services to a vendor on a government contract but was never paid, despite the fact that the subcontract was broken. Alternatively, your ex-employee may have formed a competitive business in breach of his noncompete agreement with your company. Basically, if two or more private parties have a disagreement and want it addressed in court, you’ll need a civil litigation lawyer.

2. Attorney for Criminal Defense

When the state (via prosecuting attorneys) accuses you of committing a crime, the courtroom processes are called criminal (as opposed to civil). You need a criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been arrested, read your Miranda rights, and taken into custody by the police. The criminal defense lawyer will attempt to ensure that you are considered “innocent until proven guilty” and will argue for a “not guilty” result, usually by poking holes in (and casting doubt on) the prosecution’s case theory. Do you want to avoid going to jail? Engage the services of a competent criminal defense attorney.

3. Defamation Attorney (a.k.a. Libel and Slander Attorney)

Lawyers that specialize in defamation are a type of civil litigation lawyers. If you need to sue someone for defaming your character through libel and/or slander, or if you’ve been accused of causing harm to the reputation of another person or business by making false and defamatory claims of your own, you’ll need a defamation attorney. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a defamation-related issue, it is generally beneficial to employ the services of a lawyer who specializes in this area.

4. Business Attorney (litigation or transactional)

Regardless of the nature of the legal issue, many business owners believe they require the services of a “business lawyer.” In truth, the term “business law” is far too wide to be useful. Litigation and transactional lawyers are the two most common types of business lawyers. Business litigation (sometimes known as commercial litigation) is a significant subcategory of civil litigation (see above). Businesses sue each other on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. If your company is being sued for allegedly breaching a contract with another company, narrowing your search to a business litigation attorney rather than a “business lawyer” will help you find representation. A “transactional” business lawyer, on the other hand, is the lawyer you need to help your business form, grow, and survive. The transactional lawyer will help you incorporate your business, acquire capital, establish employment and non-disclosure agreements, issue shares, spin off subsidiaries, and perform a slew of other activities. The transactional lawyer, unlike the business litigation attorney, does not go to court.

5. Legal Counsel for Families (a.k.a. Domestic Relations Attorney; a.k.a. Divorce Lawyer)

You’re looking for a divorce. You’d like to have custody of your children. Your ex-wife wants more spousal support, but you don’t want to give it to her. You’re getting married and want to be sure that if you get divorced, you won’t lose half of your assets. A family lawyer is required if your legal demands entail family relationships and obligations.

6. Traffic Attorney

Although traffic lawyers are frequently mistaken for criminal defense attorneys, there is a significant difference between being suspected of murder and being charged of running a red light, and distinct factors must be addressed when developing a defense strategy. If you’ve been caught speeding, driving with a suspended license, or cited for any other traffic violation, you’ll want to hire a traffic lawyer. Driving-related charges, such as DUI citations, necessitate the assistance of an experienced traffic lawyer.

Lawyer for Trusts and Estates, No. 7

What will happen to all of your assets and money when you pass away? How can you reduce your estate taxes while increasing your children’s inheritance? Is it possible to write your will such that your property can be Last Willtransferred to the persons you wish without having to go to court for “probate”? To acquire answers to these kind of questions, contact a trusts and estates lawyer.

8. Immigration Attorney

Let’s say your company has to hire a specialized employee from another country. Perhaps you are that worker and require assistance in acquiring an H-1B visa. Perhaps you require aid with a deportation case, or you wish to assist your spouse in obtaining a green card. You’ll need an expert for these kinds of issues: an immigration lawyer.

9. Attorney for Personal Injuries

Find a personal injury attorney if you’ve been hurt in a car accident. These attorneys have dealt with insurance companies before and can assist you in obtaining the highest reimbursement possible in light of the responsibility and damages concerns involved. Car accident lawyers aren’t the only ones that deal with personal injury situations. This is typically the type of lawyer you’ll need if you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. Cases involving “premises liability” (such as slipping and falling in a business facility due to a hazardous environment), medical negligence, and animal assaults are just a few examples.

10. Lawyer for Real Estate

Land, water, and structure rights are dealt with by real estate lawyers. Perhaps you need to figure out if you have a lien on your property or if you need to carve out an easement. You may need to subdivide a single lot into two or more, change the zoning classification, or relocate a boundary line. These are the types of issues that a real estate lawyer can assist you with.

Do you have a problem that isn’t listed here? Lawyer directories such as and may be useful in narrowing down your search. Best of luck!

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