Lawyers & Lawsuits

Legal matters can arise for any number of foreseen and unforeseen reasons. Car accidents and work injuries, business dealings and contracts, debt and money problems, family issues, immigration problems, criminal charges - the list goes on. Often, you can handle minor legal issues without professional help, but when you're unsure of your rights under the law, or the best solution for a given legal problem, you may need professional help.

What Kind of Lawyer Do You Need?

There are literally thousands of subspecialties of lawyers, but most fall into a smaller number of areas of practice. The following types of lawyers can be found on

Accidents & Injuries

When you’ve been injured by another person or business.

Most Common Types

  • Personal Injury - Lawyers who handle all types of injury cases.
  • Auto Accident - Find an attorney focusing on car accidents, insurance claims, and related lawsuits.
  • Workers Compensation  - If you were injured on the job, chances are your only legal remedy is a workers compensation claim.

Other Types

  • Asbestos - Asbestos related mesothelioma and cancer cases require special lawyers.
  • Maritime - Injuries that occurred while at sea fall under the special rules of admiralty law.
  • Medical Malpractice - Claims against doctors and hospitals.

Corporate, Small Business, Contracts & Personal Finance

For business owners and investors.

Most Common Types

  • Business - These lawyers draw up contracts and advise business owners on legal issues, as well as provide representation in legal cases.
  • Securities - Investment fraud & wrongdoing.

Crimes & Criminal Records

If you’ve been accused or charged with a crime.

Most Common Types

  • Criminal Defense - These are the lawyers to call after you've been arrested.
  • DUI and DWI - These lawyers focus on defending drunk driving cases.

Other Types

Debt Relief

When you need help dealing with debt.

Most Common Types

  • Bankruptcy - Help getting bankruptcy protection.
  • Debt Settlement - Negotiate repayment of your debt.
  • Foreclosure - Help deal with a foreclosure case.
  • Tax - These lawyers can help if you're facing large tax debts.

Disability Benefits

If you’ve become injured or disabled, and can no longer work.

Most Common Types

Other Types

  • Disability (Generalists) For state-based and other disability claims. For disability discrimination see Employment or Legal Disputes (Civil Rights).

Employment & Labor Law

If you’re an employee or employer with a legal problem related to a job.

Most Common Types

  • Employment - These lawyers cover cases related to labor law.
  • Wrongful Termination - These attorneys focus on cases where employees were illegally fired.

Other Types

Estate Planning - Wills & Trusts

When you need to prepare an estate plan, need help with inheritance issues, or need to administer an estate after someone has died.

Most Common Types

  • Estate Planning - If you need to draft a will, trust, power of attorney, advance directive, or complete estate plan.
  • Probate - Probate lawyers help administer estates after someone has passed away.

Family & Divorce

Everything related to family, from marriage to divorce.

Most Common

  • Divorce - If you're facing or going through a divorce, these lawyers can help will all related matters.
  • Family - Family lawyers can help with everything from prenuptial agreements, adoptions, guardianships and more.

Other Types


When you or someone you are trying to help needs to get into (temporarily or permanently) the United States.

Most Common Types

  • Immigration Law - An immigration attorney can help navigate the complex world of U.S. Visas, Green Cards, Work Visas, Citizenship, and more.

Other Types

Intellectual Property – Patents, Trademarks, Copyright & Licensing

If you’ve invented something or are making music or other entertainment related products.

Most Common Types

  • Intellectual Property - Intellectual property lawyers specialize in patents, trademarks, and copyright issues, as well as licensing and other related uses of your intellectual property.
  • Patents - These lawyers focus on drawing up and processing patent applications to the USPTO.

Legal Disputes

These are broad categories of lawyers who can help with many everyday issues that don’t fit into the other types.

Main Types

  • Litigation - When you need to sue or you're the defendant of a lawsuit.
  • Civil Rights - Discrimination & Harassment based on protected classes (race, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation).
  • Consumer Protection - If you were scammed, these lawyers can help.
  • Landlord and Tenant - Have a dispute with your tenant or landlord?
  • Legal Malpractice - These lawyers sue other lawyers for failing to live up to their legal duty.

Real Estate & Property

If it’s related to property you own or lease, these are the lawyers to call.

Main Types

  • Real Estate - Get help with all matters relating to residential real estate.
  • Foreclosure - When your property is being foreclosed on, or you're considering walking away from a mortgage.
  • Commercial Real Estate  - Need to negotiate a commercial lease agreement, or buy/sell commercial property? These lawyers can help.

Learn More

What Should Be in Your Lawyers' Fee Agreement - If you're hiring a lawyer, make sure you have a clear, written fee agreement that spells out the cost of legal representation, related expenses, and the work to be done.

Still Unsure?

A good place to start is by contacting an experienced attorney in your community. While many attorneys specialize in a certain area of law, like personal injury or intellectual property, there are many attorneys who offer a full spectrum of services to provide aid to individuals who need help facing all sorts of legal issues that arise in life. These attorneys are called general practice lawyers.

General practice lawyers are a good source of information for people that have never had any legal disputes before or people that don't know exactly what kind of lawyer would be best for their needs. These lawyers have a broad range of knowledge on a number of topics and are generally able to provide clients with the advice they need to make prudent decisions about how to deal with the legal matter at hand.

To find an attorney for your legal needs, a good place to start is with the state Bar Association and online attorney directories like Nolo. If you are not sure what kind of attorney you need, start by contacting a general practice attorney.

Once you have a list of potential lawyers, call each one. During your phone call, make sure you explain your situation and ask if the attorney handles cases like yours. If the attorney does not handle cases like yours, ask for a recommendation for an attorney who can help you.

When you talk to each attorney, make sure you not only know that they are capable of handling your case, but understand the attorney's fees. Also, ask for references from former clients, find out where the attorney attended law school, consider how many years of experience the attorney has and check with the Better Business Bureau or state Bar Association to see if any ethics complaints have been filed against the attorney.

As with any decision you have to make in life, make sure you have a good feeling about the lawyer that you choose to work with. You may be working with this individual for quite some time; therefore, it is important to be comfortable with his or her communication style or demeanor.

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