Types of Lawyers: Roles and Qualifications
University of Dayton
School of Law
Online Hybrid Juris Doctor
The University of Dayton School of Law is providing wider access to a quality legal education through its Online Hybrid Juris Doctor program. The ABA-approved program prepares students to sit for the bar exam in most states.
- ABA-approved J.D. program
- Prepare to sit for the bar exam in most states
- Flexible online learning
1. Bankruptcy Lawyer
2. Business Lawyer (Corporate Lawyer)
3. Constitutional Lawyer
4. Criminal Defense Lawyer
5. Employment and Labor Lawyer
6. Entertainment Lawyer
7. Estate Planning Lawyer
8. Family Lawyer
9. Immigration Lawyer
10. Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyer
11. Personal Injury Lawyer
12. Tax Lawyer
Frequently Asked Questions about Different Types of Lawyers
While we introduced some of the most common types of lawyers in this article, there are many others to consider depending on the industry or specialization you may be interested in. For instance, personal injury lawyers may specialize in niche areas like medical malpractice or claims against pharmaceutical companies. However, additional types of lawyers include contract lawyers, environmental lawyers, traffic lawyers—and the list goes on.
Trial lawyers represent clients in both civil and criminal cases. Their primary job is to argue the facts of a case before a judge or jury on their client’s behalf. In court, trial lawyers may argue motions, meet with judges, or select jurors. Outside of court, trial lawyers may review files, interview witnesses, or take depositions. Criminal defense lawyers and constitutional lawyers may also act as trial lawyers.
Government lawyers can be found at the federal, state, or local level, and in all three branches of government. They represent the interests of the government—or citizens as a whole—rather than individuals or corporations. Government lawyers may work in Attorney General’s Offices, governors’ or mayors’ offices, in executive agencies, public defenders’ offices, or in state legislatures.
There are two main types of criminal lawyers: prosecuting attorneys (also referred to as district attorneys), and defense lawyers. Prosecuting attorneys represent the government against which an alleged crime was committed, whether on the local, state, or federal level. Defense attorneys represent the defendant accused of a crime.
Corporate lawyers handle legal matters for corporations and ensure that all business transactions are in compliance with the law. They may work on mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, and negotiations. They provide counsel to their clients, conduct legal research, and write or revise contracts.
No, court proceedings are costly and time-consuming, so legal matters are sometimes settled outside of court. There are many types of lawyers that rarely (if ever) go into court, as the scope of their work does not require it. These may include estate planning lawyers, labor lawyers, personal injury lawyers, and bankruptcy lawyers.
This depends on your area of interest and career goals. Think about what type of work you would enjoy doing daily, and the coursework that interests you most—certain law degree specializations may pique your interest more than others. It’s also important to consider your strengths. Some types of lawyers may benefit from strong interpersonal skills; others rely on their analytical abilities. Refer to the types of lawyers listed above to help you better understand each type.