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What is a Lawyer: According to the ABA?

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We all know that a lawyer is the person you need when either you’re in trouble or you’re trying to get someone else in trouble (probably financially for the later), but what exactly do they do? Lawyers have to know a lot of information about a lot of different topics and be quick to respond to tricky questions. As the American Bar Association writes in their “What is a lawyer?”public information section, here is exactly what a lawyer truly is.

What exactly is a lawyer?

A lawyer can also be called an attorney, counsel, or counselor. They are licensed professionals that represent and advice their clients in matters regarding the law. In the U.S about 1/3 of lawyers are under the age of 35. Anyone with the proper education, knowledge, experience, and licenses can become a lawyer.

What are a lawyer’s main duties?

According to the American Bar Association, a lawyer has 2 main duties:

  • Uphold the law
  • Protect the client’s rights

To be able to do this, the lawyer needs to know a considerable amount of information regarding the law and the client.

Is most of a lawyer’s time spent in court?

While you see lawyers on TV spending most of their time standing in front of a courtroom filled with people, the truth is they spend most of their time in their office. For many cases, the lawyer has to research precedents and facts as well as preparing documents needed for the courtroom. Some cases don’t even go to court and simply include consultations.

What does a lawyer have to do to become a lawyer?

Lawyers have to obtain a series of higher education courses and then meet the standards of the states that they want to practice in. According to the American Bar Association, the following are the steps that a person must take to become a lawyer.

Have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

  • Complete three years at an ABA-accredited law school.
  • Pass a state bar examination, which usually lasts for two or three days. The exam tests knowledge in selected areas of law. There are also required tests on professional ethics and responsibility.
  • Pass a character and fitness review. A committee that investigates character and background must approve applicants for law licenses.
  • Take an oath, usually swearing to support the laws and the state and federal constitutions.
  • Receive a license from the highest court in the state, usually the state supreme court.

-American Bar Association

Once licensed in one state, is a lawyer allowed to practice law in all states?

Lawyers need to obtain a license for each state individually by complying to the given states individual standards. A few states allow lawyers that are licensed out-of-state to practice in their state if they have proven experience. There are multiple provisions, which must be met in order for this to happen. If a lawyer needs to act in a case that’s outside of their territory for just one particular case, they are appearing “pro hoc vice”.

Why does is sound like lawyers speak and write in a totally different language?

When practicing law, lawyers learn all of the legal terms for complex concepts as well as short hand terms to express more complicated phrases. Many legal terms are rooted in the Latin language, so when they sound like another language, they actually are. In order for lawyers to express ideas accurately, they use the phrasing that they know other people within the field will also understand.

Being a lawyer can be exhilarating because of the different tasks handed to you on a given basis. Some lawyers become known for their success rate and are usually the most expensive ones to then hire. You can find some of the best lawyers in your area by searching databases like lawyers of distinction. These lawyers are chosen because of their excellence in their field as well as honorable character and experience.