|Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and
advisors in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in
criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to
support their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients concerning
their legal rights and obligations and suggest particular courses of action
in business and personal matters. Whether acting as an advocate or an
advisor, all attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions
and apply the law to the specific circumstances faced by their client.
The more detailed aspects of a lawyer’s job depend upon his or her field of specialization and position. Although all lawyers are licensed to represent parties in court, some appear in court more frequently than others. Trial lawyers, who specialize in trial work, must be able to think quickly and speak with ease and authority. In addition, familiarity with courtroom rules and strategy is particularly important in trial work. Still, trial lawyers spend the majority of their time outside the courtroom, conducting research, interviewing clients and witnesses, and handling other details in preparation for a trial.
Lawyers may specialize in a number of areas, such as bankruptcy, probate, international, or elder law. Those specializing in environmental law, for example, may represent interest groups, waste disposal companies, or construction firms in their dealings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other Federal and State agencies. These lawyers help clients prepare and file for licenses and applications for approval before certain activities may occur. In addition, they represent clients’ interests in administrative adjudications.