If you collected all of the laws on the books even in just one state or county today, you’d have a very large pile of paper. That’s why the typical lawyer’s office looks like a library. Obviously no one person can be a master of every tiny piece of law, which is why most law firms focus on a specific practice area. The number of employed lawyers is expected to grow by 6% from 2014 to 2024, on track with the average for other occupations.
Many lawyers have several areas of knowledge and are considered “generalists” who can adapt to a multitude of different cases. That being said, like doctors, most lawyers end up working with one type of law in particular. The lines drawn between practice areas aren’t well regulated, and the lingo can get confusing for anyone not familiar with how the legal world works. The four headings below list some common practice areas for lawyers, including those that the average American citizen is likely to need. Note that for each bullet point an even more specialized lawyer can often be found for particularly tricky cases.

Labor Law

  • OSHA violations
  • Minimum wage/overtime violations
  • Workers compensation for injuries
  • Worker misclassification
  • Union regulations
  • Workplace discrimination
  • Strike negotiations
  • Workers rights
  • Wrongful termination

Personal Injury Claims and Tort Law

  • Negligence
  • Wrongful death
  • Toxic tort
  • Traffic accidents and drunk driving
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip, trip, and fall cases
  • Dog bites
  • Assault and battery
  • Defamation/libel/slander (harm to reputation)

Family Law

  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Divorce proceedings
  • Paternity declaration
  • Child custody
  • Child/spousal support
  • Guardianship
  • Juvenile emancipation
  • Name changes
  • Domestic violence protection
  • Child abuse
  • Adoptions

Criminal Defense

  • DUI/DWI/DUII (variations of driving while intoxicated on drugs and/or alcohol)
  • Sexual assault
  • Murder/Manslaughter
  • Assault
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Possession of controlled substances and other drug crimes

Real Estate

  • Broken rental contract
  • Real estate purchases and mortgage issues
  • Land boundary dispute
  • Foreclosure and eviction
  • Housing and commercial real estate loans
  • Public utility issues
  • Transferring of estates or titles

Remember that this is only a sampling of common law specialties that may be relevant to you. Often, a lawyer or law firm will be able to offer help in multiple areas of the law. For example, the Law Firm of Patrick Short offers clients legal assistance with personal injury, especially wrongful death, and criminal defense law. If you are unsure of what expertise you should be looking for in regards to your own needs, schedule a consultation with an attorney you think may be a good fit.