Legal Profession

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

Legacy Stories from the Americans All Heritage Honor Roll

We are pleased to host and share these legacy stories created by honorees’ family, friends and associates. They, like us, appreciate that heritage and culture are an integral part of our nation's social fabric and want to help students participate effectively in our nation's economy, workforce and democracy.

Last Name of Individual
First Name of Individual
Group name

American Inns of Courts "AIC" Virginia (February 2, 1980 - ?)

The American Inns of Court concept was the product of a discussion in the late 1970's among the US' members of the Anglo-American Exchange of Lawyers and Judges, including Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger and Judge J. Clifford Wallace of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Burger invited Rex E. Lee, then Dean of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University and later justice of the Utah Supreme Court, to test the idea.

Harry Phillips American Inn of Court Tennessee (c.1990 - ?) AIC, Attorney, Burger, Common Law, English Inns of Court, Judges, Legal Professionals, O’Connor, Rule of Law, Tennessee

The Harry Phillips AIC was founded in 1990 in Nashville. It was the 120th American Inn of Court in the United States. The American Inns of Court (AIC) is an association of lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals from all levels and backgrounds who share a passion for professional excellence. The AIC is the fastest growing legal organization in the country.

Honorable Ruth McDowell Kinnard Tennessee (April 15, 1919 - May 17, 2001) Civic Leader, Federal Bankruptcy Referee, Franklin, Judge, Heritage Foundation, Martlesham Heath, Nashville, Saffron Walden, Tennessee, Tri-Delt, Vanderbilt

From a cotton plantation in south Alabama, to a seat on the Federal Bench in Tennessee, Ruth McDowell Kinnard was at the forefront of her generation of women, setting standards in her professional life that are still hard to achieve. But she was even better known as a woman of grace and beauty whose spiritual journey, fueled by her deep compassion, touched all around her. But she was even better known as a woman of grace and beauty.

Honorable Sandra Day Day O'Connor Arizona (March 26, 1930 - December 1, 2020) Episcopalian, Attorney, Author, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

From Triumph To Tragedy, 'First' Tells Story Of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Late last year, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor issued a statement announcing that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It was a poignant moment, a reminder that for decades O'Connor was seen as the most powerful woman in America. Now comes an important book about her . . .

Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor Arizona (March 26, 1930 - December 1, 2020) Episcopalian, Attorney, Author, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

At a party at her Arizona home in 1981, a middle-aged Sandra Day O’Connor, ever the consummate hostess, served enchiladas poolside with good cheer. But when she greeted a friend of her son who was soon to begin a clerkship for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, her mood shifted. As Evan Thomas describes the scene in “First,” his illuminating and eminently readable biography of the Supreme Court’s first female justice . . .