“The end of law is not to abstain or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.” -John Locke
Law represents the principles and regulations established in a community by an authority, applicable to its people whether in the form of legislation or policies recognised and enforced by judicial decision. Maintaining law and order in the society is a huge responsibility and leading a lawyer’s life requires inculcating a plethora of skills. This article shines light upon the key branches of law to help you fortify your career preparation.
Civil law is a body of rules that defines and protects the private rights of citizens and offers legal remedies. Crucial to every sphere of life, civil rights are intended to provide relief to people from issues including discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or disability. The wide variety of cases that civil lawyers deal with include torts, contracts, property and family disputes, which reportedly affect 150 million people each year.
According to a national survey, even though most Americans do not take their civil justice problems to lawyers, US courts are overwhelmed by the number of litigants appearing without a legal attorney. Civil lawyers endeavour to persuade the affected to seek legal advice and to provide counsel. Civil lawyers are expected to conduct in-depth research and draft documents with utmost prudence, to provide legal guidance to the plaintiffs. They need to tactfully structure and evaluate their arguments in court to prove infringement on individual rights.
A law student can make his place in politics as well. Being most aware of the system, lawyers can progress in the sphere of politics with strong oratory skills that get honed during the course of their professional experiences. In fact, 25 out of 42 U.S. Presidents practiced law before becoming President including Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt.
The Juris Doctor degree is a prerequisite for civil law attorneys, though advanced education as a Social Justice Course in Civil Rights, a Bar Professional Training Course can help students develop their expertise and facilitate entry into supervisory or high-level administrative positions.
Corporate law is the body of laws that govern the formation and operation of corporations. It regulates the interaction among corporations, shareholders and other stakeholders, providing a level playing field to conduct business. Typically, corporations like banks, insurance companies and communications companies require the full-time services of corporate lawyers for business contract negotiations and drafting of agreements. Corporate lawyers also represent lenders and borrowers in financial transactions. Interpersonal communication is crucial for orchestrating communication among stakeholders in corporate communications.
Much of a corporate lawyer’s job comprises executing legal requirements connected with corporate actions like mergers and acquisitions and IPO. A corporate lawyer must be adept at negotiating with companies on mergers and acquisitions, and to offer advice at critical junctures to prevent possible discontinuance of an agreement. Corporate lawyers must ensure impartial drafting of contracts and assist ventures in developing a business plan and procuring requisite financial resources. Top employers like Akerman LLP and Macfarlanes assist companies on M&A services like corporate tax planning, private equity transactions etc. They also advise clients on domestic and cross-border transactions, therefore, a linguistic corporate lawyer is a desirable fit. In terms of employment opportunities, a corporate lawyer’s salary ranges from $66,000 to $170,000. A well-rounded individual who can think on his feet and has resilience, makes a strong candidate for this field. Showcase your interest and expertise in your chosen career field by availing targeted career preparation guidance on the SMART VMock Platform.
Environmental law is an upcoming area of law which is steadily gaining eminence with the growing global focus on climate change and carbon footprint. It covers diverse areas such as climate control, energy sources, pollution, and Corporate Social Responsibility. A rising awareness on environmental issues like the use of clean technology, renewable energy, carbon asset management and greenhouse gas inventories has created demand for environmental law attorneys for addressing the cause of climate change and designing legal tools to incentivize emissions reduction.
Environmental lawyers may work for environmental advocacy organizations, non-profits or the government, some examples being the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). An environmental law job at a government agency requires compiling evidence on violation of environmental regulations, interviewing witnesses and presenting cases for prosecution. At the federal government level, environmental lawyers are sought by bodies like the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States National Park Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to name a few.
The energy sector, especially oil and natural gas, employs a considerable number of environmental lawyers to resolve legal issues involving environment and safety norms. Also, since public utility companies maintain monopolies over the utility industry, environmental lawyers have to ensure that companies follow mandated price structures, permit rules, and emission standards. They also design regulatory regimes for new power sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power and advocate for climate-sensitive energy policies.
Experts predict that greenhouse gas, climate change, global warming and other environmental legislations will increase the legal work for environmental lawyers in the coming years. As going green becomes a global priority, lawyers who can advise on green initiatives and sustainability issues are in demand.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property law deals with the rules for securing and enforcing legal rights to inventions, designs, and artistic works. New developments in science and technology create the need for lawyers with specialized backgrounds to protect the intellectual capital of businesses, authors, inventors, musicians and other owners of creative works. In order to become a patent attorney, it is not enough just to take the bar exam. The attorney must also take the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Bar Exam. To sit for this exam, an applicant needs to have a Bachelor’s degree in a science or engineering field.
In today’s economic climate, the valuation of companies is increasingly based more on the value of their intellectual property than on “harder assets”. Intellectual Property lawyers interact with scientists, engineers, businessmen and tribunals, therefore, it is crucial to be proficient in the demands and trends of technology, business and law, given that nuance and detail are required to understand IP issues. You need to be creative and tactful in order to come up with alternative ways of protecting a patent when challenged by a competitor. Patent lawyers need to rely on their technical knowledge and be proactive in understanding the technical facets associated with a patent to cover all angles and foresee risks.
Approximately 85% of the intellectual property openings are for patent attorneys.
Bankruptcy law is one of the fastest growing practices in the legal industry today as it is a very diverse practice area. Bankruptcy attorneys may be called on to address corporate, tax, employment, real estate, finance, securities, and litigation issues in a bankruptcy case. A bankruptcy lawyer’s primary focus is to assist clients through court proceedings to reduce or eliminate debt. They may also work on the side of creditors to help obtain dues from debtors in a seamless and quick fashion. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, i.e. the liquidation bankruptcy, is the most common type of bankruptcy filed in America. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee oversees liquidation of assets and sells property that the debtor cannot protect, distributing the funds to creditors. On the other hand, in a Chapter 11 case, a lawyer with great negotiation skills can convince the creditor to alter the terms of the loan without having to liquidate the debtor’s assets.
Bankruptcy attorneys have to be adept at finding facts to provide a clear, accurate picture of the company’s financial situation. They conduct out-of-court restructuring, involving analyses to determine the feasibility of preventing bankruptcy. Both litigation (representing clients before adjudicatory bodies such as courts, government agencies, or in arbitration), and transaction skills (representing clients in transactions including licensing, mergers, spin-offs, regulatory filings) are necessary to succeed because in the courtroom, they may present a debt-reorganization plan for the court to approve, the primary aim, of course, being to guide the client away from full bankruptcy. A bankruptcy lawyer’s salary averages around $113,000.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected 6% employment growth for lawyers by 2024. To be a successful lawyer, you need to present a compelling case, introduce evidence and tactfully cross-examine witnesses. As a Japanese proverb goes, “only painters and lawyers can turn black into white.”