The legal profession is a vocation that is based on expertise in the law and in its applications. There are many areas of specialization in this field as well as many local, regional and national associations and organizations. The following are some of the main categories in the field.
● A lawyer (also called attorney, counsel, or counselor) is a licensed professional who advises and/or advocates for their clients in matters of law. It usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school and the passing of a bar exam to qualify. Additional continuing education requirements vary per state for maintaining a license to practice.
● A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge hears all the witnesses, reviews evidence, assesses their credibility and then issues a ruling on the matter. In some cases, a jury may be involved.
● Paralegals, or legal assistants, work in private law firms or in the public sector and perform support tasks for attorneys. Paralegals assist attorneys by preparing for hearings, trials, and meetings and by maintaining communication with clients. However, they cannot provide legal services that are considered practicing law.
● Legal secretaries, also called administrative assistants, have less responsibilities than a paralegal but often more than the average secretarial role. Both paralegals and legal secretaries may be referred to as legal assistants.
● Law clerks are to judges what paralegals are to attorneys—their right hands. Law clerks manage the judges' case files and do research, drafting condensed reports on filed documents as guidelines. Image by Sang Hyun Cho from Pixabay
● Mediators—also called an arbitrator or conciliator—handle alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which many states require before a civil lawsuit can proceed to trial. The mediator meets with and attempts to guide opposing parties to compromise or settlement. They do not "represent" either side and may or may not be an employee of the government.
Image by Sang Hyun Cho from Pixabay