There will come a point in your life that you will need the services of a lawyer. To others, lawyers only represent what they see in TV shows and movies, defending people in court. However, lawyers do much more than that, as they are responsible for settling legal disputes, providing legal advice, as well as preparing documents for a variety of purposes.
It should also be known that there are many different kinds of lawyers available, and hiring the right one is absolutely critical especially if finances are at stake, as they most often are. Here’s your guide on the kinds of lawyers that you can find in Australia, as well as when you should hire one.
Solicitors and Barristers – What’s the Difference?
There are two main types of lawyers that you can find in Australia, namely solicitors and barristers. These lawyers have their respective specializations and work in different ways. Barristers work as typical lawyers that you know, appearing in court to represent you in front of a judge during trials or settlements. Simply put, barristers are the ones in front of the audience pleading your case in your behalf.
On the other hand, solicitors are the ones that work behind the scenes. They are the ones that do any research or prepare documents and resources required for an upcoming case. They are also the types of lawyers that provide legal advice but do not necessarily serve as active counsels during a trial. However, solicitors may also file and acquire “rights to audience” which will allow them to represent clients. Typically, though, their services are limited to documents and negotiations outside the court.
While both solicitors and barristers practice law, they go through different trainings and typically have diverging career paths. Solicitors, for example, must finish the Law Practice Course and then undergo training for two years where they will get on the job training. On the other hand, barristers must first complete a different course, namely the BPTC or Bar Professional Training Course. This will be followed by a one-year internship wherein they will be trained by an actual barrister on how to do their job.
Both solicitors and barristers can be employed by a law firm, although barristers are often self-employed or belong to a chamber which is basically a group of other barristers.
Types of Lawyers
Just like doctors or engineers, lawyers can branch out to specific fields and have their own specialization. Education wise, these lawyers all go through the same process and would need to pass an exam in order to practice. However, some would get additional trainings in order to truly excel in their related field. Finding the correct type of lawyer for your needs is very important so that you can get the best service possible. Here are some examples of types of lawyers that you can find.
General practice lawyers are lawyers that are knowledgeable about general issues. Like a general practitioner in medicine, you can ask a general practice lawyer about anything, and they can provide you with solutions on simple problems such as drawing up documents or when you need some legal advice. However, general practice lawyers generally do not represent you in court. Rather, complicated cases may be forwarded to specialists that the general practice lawyer may refer. As such, these types of lawyers have a wide network of lawyers that can help you with your case, making them the best first stop if you do not have a lawyer of your own.
Family lawyers are lawyers that focus more on domestic concerns. These may include drawing up documents for pre-nuptial agreements or divorce papers. They are tasked with arguing for child custody, inheritance disputes, or divorce settlements, among others. In some cases, they can also go to court to represent clients for criminal cases such as in instances of domestic or child abuse. If you have any legal concerns that involve your family but is not necessarily a criminal case aside from the ones mentioned above, then a family lawyer is the one that will help you out.
Criminal lawyers are lawyers that specialize in defending clients who have been accused of crimes such as rape, murder, burglary, or drug or weapons possession. This is one of the most complicated things to handle as they can literally be a life or death situation. As such, criminal lawyers are often highly paid and highly trained as well. While the best output for criminal lawyers to get is a dismissal of charges, in some cases the best that they could do is to make plea bargains for lower sentences, to allow his client to post bail, or to request for other arrangements that would make the situation easier for his client.
Estate lawyers, on the other hand, are lawyers that specialize in managing your assets. They are in charge of creating your will or setting up a trust fund. They will provide you with sound advice on how to settle your finances during your life, and where your assets would go when you die. In some cases, they can also serve as executors of your will if you want it to be so. Estate lawyers will also help protect your estate and make sure that your wishes are executed by defending it against those who will file disputes and other claims outside of your will.
Lastly, corporate lawyers are lawyers that are experts in creating and interpreting legal documents for companies and corporations. Documents that corporate lawyers handle will include merger agreements, acquisition agreements, notaries, memorandums of agreement, and many more. They may also be tasked with defending the client when they are being sued, or handling cases when the corporation is suing someone else. Corporate lawyers may be provided by a firm that a company has hired, or they may be put on retainers by the business itself or even hired directly as part of their manpower.
Knowing which type of lawyer to look for is important to acquire the best type of legal advice or service as possible. You may look at law firms or ask around in order to get the best lawyer that will suit your requirements.