So you're standing there, pouring your guts out to the sympathetic person who'd just been introduced to you as a lawyer. What luck! You've got an embarrassing problem and could use some help with it, so you begin telling your story ... when finally, your sympathetic companion says "Sorry. I'm not that kind of lawyer." Wow. Are your cheeks red!
There are technically two basic kinds of lawyers: criminal lawyers or civil lawyers. However, within those two categories, there are many different "practice areas" in which a lawyer can specialize.
So, how many? That's actually a tough question to answer, probably because of the number of laws that are available to be dealt with. The actual number is difficult to determine
(if you want to find out why this is so, consider this http://blogs.loc.gov/law/2013/03/frequent-reference-question-how-many-federal-laws-are-there/).
At any rate, if you need to consult a lawyer, it is important to find one that specializes and practices in the area related to your issue. Here are a few of the most commonly sought areas of law:
Bankruptcy laws protect individuals and businesses, but bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences, and the expertise of an experienced, well-qualified attorney is imperative. While legally, a bankruptcy attorney is not required to file bankruptcy, filing on your own is far less likely to be successful.
Divorce lawyers specialize in emotionally-charged legal issues involved in dissolving domestic relationships and deal with solving questions of child custody/visitation, division of assets/liabilities, and spousal/child support.
Medical malpractice is an extremely complex area of personal injury practice, and because states may have various statutes of limitation in place that impact the case, the advice of an attorney skilled in this area should be sought as soon as possible.
Business law is a very broad area that can range from very basic to extremely complex combinations of vastly different areas of law.
Family Law concentrates on issues surrounding domestic relationships, traditional and non-traditional, including marriage, domestic partnerships, civil unions and other family structures. Family law practice also deals with domestic violence, paternity, annulment, adoption, surrogacy, child abduction (domestic and international), termination of parental rights, and pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Personal injury law is also known as tort law, and is designed to protect you if you or your property is injured or harmed because of someone else's act or failure to act. Personal Injury lawyers are essential to help you navigate the many and complex laws and regulations that impact a case when a person has been harmed physically or psychologically by another person or a person's act of negligence.
Immigration Law attorneys help businesses by obtaining the visas and work authorization necessary to employ foreign workers in this country, and must have extensive experience handling matters before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Department of Labor, and U.S. Consulate Offices around the world. For individuals, they have the expertise to help clients in all stages of the immigration process.
Real estate lawyers represent parties involved in the sale, purchase or lease of real estate - from the very simple residential to complex commercial transactions involving several parties and governing bodies.
Criminal lawyers deal with a very specific, very complex area of law: Criminal statutes are sprinkled throughout some 27,000 pages of the federal code that deal with every kind of crime, from the ones you read about every day, like sex crimes, theft, violence, and criminal traffic offenses - to the more obscure and complex crimes like anti-trust or environmental or even FDA violations, and fraud at all levels.
Today's workplace demands strict compliance with a vast array of ever-changing state and federal laws and regulations, and it takes an attorney with wide skills to deal with the complex labor and employment law issues that can arise. A labor & employment attorney must have the expertise to help clients operate within the complex web of federal and state employment laws when making business decisions that affect employees at all levels, as well as provide ongoing guidance to help clients steer clear of potential employee-related liability issues.
An Aviation Law attorney provides counsel and planning in all segments of the aviation industry, including flight, air travel, associated legal and business concerns, the operation of aircraft and the maintenance of aviation facilities, and requires a comprehensive knowledge of FAA regulations, specific laws regarding flight, and an in-depth understanding of aviation.
Agricultural lawyers deal with the the complex and ever-changing market, business, and regulatory concerns that affect the individuals and businesses in the food and agriculture industry. Their clients range from farmers to agricultural equipment manufacturers/dealers through the industrial chain of business and organizations involved in the use of agricultural end-products, even restaurants. There is a dizzying array of federal, state, and local agencies that regulate agricultural activities, and many lawyers in private practice focus on one particular type of law for food and agriculture.
It's up to you: if you need help from an attorney, make sure that the one you approach practices in the area of law that you need before asking their advice. Consider what you've got to lose - it may be a lot more than just embarrassment!