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The Different Types of Lawyers


What Are the Different Types of Lawyers and What Do They Do?


There are many different types of lawyers that provide legal advice to individuals and businesses across different legal practice areas. The most common types of lawyers are:

  • Commercial Lawyer
  • Corporate M&A Lawyer
  • Employment Lawyer
  • Property Lawyer
  • Family Lawyer
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Personal Injuries Lawyer
  • Criminal Lawyer
  • Building and Construction Lawyer
  • Litigation Lawyer

You may be a high school student considering a career in law or perhaps you’re a law student or law graduate that’s soon to be starting their new career in law.

The question is if you’ve never stepped foot into a law firm, how do you know what area of law you will enjoy or could become passionate about practising in? So, let’s discuss the different types of lawyers and what they do and cover the main legal practice areas that lawyers work across.



1. Commercial Lawyer – What Does a Commercial Lawyer Do?

Commercial lawyers’ practice across what is essentially the broadest legal practice area. Commercial lawyers assist businesses with a range of commercial and business legal matters/transactions and assist in drafting and reviewing a range of commercial documents. They also assist in resolving commercial and business disputes with other parties.


2. Corporate Lawyer – What Does a Corporate Lawyer Do?

Corporate lawyers, also known as Corporate M&A Layers, assist corporate entities by advising on a range of rights and obligations. The practice area is quite complex and the relevant corporation laws generally extend to the corporate officers within corporations and the rules and regulations that govern those corporate entities. Corporate lawyers will often assist with a range of corporate transactions and assist their clients with corporate mergers and acquisitions, shareholder agreements, changes to corporate structures and appointments of officeholders, joint venture agreements, corporate finance, private equity, due diligence and facilitating cross-border transactions.


3. Employment Lawyer – What Does an Employment Lawyer Do?

Employment lawyers will generally specialise and work on either the employers’ side (generally defendant) or the employee side (generally plaintiff). Employment lawyers will assist employers and employees with their rights and obligations in relation to employment, workplace relations and health and safety. Employment lawyers assist with drafting and reviewing employment agreements and advise on issues relating to breaches and terminations of those employment agreements.


4. Property Lawyer – What Does a Property Lawyer Do?

A Property lawyer is a lawyer who gives legal advice in relation to property/real estate, not to be confused with personal property. Property lawyers will advise on property-related transactions, this could be a commercial property or residential property. They will advise the owners of their rights and obligations relevant to these transactions which involve GST, Capital Gains Tax, Land Tax and Stamp Duty obligations when buying or selling a property. Property lawyers will often liaise with banks and financial institutions when facilitating property transactions.


5. Family Lawyer – What Does a Family Lawyer Do?

Family Lawyers provide legal advice to people which cover issues related to family, marriage, divorce, children and parenting. Family lawyers will assist their clients to resolve their issues which are often quite sensitive and emotionally charged. It’s best practice for family lawyers to resolve family law issues with as little conflict and aggravation as possible. A family lawyer will assist their clients with a range of legal services and advice relating to divorce applications and distribution of property, domestic violence, parenting arrangements and custody issues.


6. Intellectual Property Lawyer – What Does an Intellectual Property Lawyer Do?

Intellectual Property Lawyers also known as IP Lawyers, assist individuals and businesses in relation to their intellectual property. This covers trademarks, copyright and patents. Intellectual property lawyers assist their clients with the registration of intellectual property such as trademarks and enforcement of the owner’s rights against those who use another’s intellectual property without authorisation. Intellectual Property lawyers also assist in drafting intellectual property agreements, assignments and licences for their clients.


7. Personal Injury Lawyer – What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?

Personal injury lawyers represent individuals that have been injured (physically or psychologically) by the negligence of a third party. The third-party could be a person, company or government department that is generally responsible to provide a duty of care. Personal injury lawyers seek to obtain compensation for the injured person to the extent that money could place the person back into the same financial situation they were in prior to the injury. The compensation sought is generally consistent with the medical cost, treatment or loss of income suffered by the injured party. On the other side of Personal Injury is defendant insurance. A defendant insurance lawyer will represent the person, company or government department (or their insurer) who is alleged to be responsible for the injury. A defendant insurance lawyer will seek to defend the claim or reduce the damages claim.


8. Criminal Lawyer – What Does a Criminal Lawyer Do?

Criminal Lawyers defend individuals who have had allegations of criminal behaviour brought against them by the State. This could range from minor criminal matters such as drug or traffic offences to the more serious offences of manslaughter and murder. Criminal lawyers play a crucial role in ensuring the justice system is balanced and that the state who is alleging the criminality follows the correct process and satisfies the evidentiary rules to meet the required level of proof to convict the individual.


9. Building and Construction Lawyer – What Does a Building and Construction Lawyer Do?

Building and construction lawyers assist their clients in relation to building and construction contracts, this ranges from front-end advisory work (drafting and advising on agreements) to back-end contentious matters (disputes), which may arise from the breach of a clause within a building and construction contract by one of the parties. Their clients’ can range from small builders/renovators to medium property developers to large scale international property developers and construction companies.


10. Litigation Lawyer – What Does a Litigation Lawyer Do?

Litigation lawyers litigate matters or disputes which are unable to be resolved without the assistance of the Court. They will represent their clients’ who could be either the plaintiff or defendant. Litigation lawyers will often specialise in a practice area, such as the ones listed above. For example, they may specialise in commercial litigation where they litigate commercial matters. Litigation lawyers must have a strong working knowledge of Court procedures and the process which must be followed in the lead up to appearing in Court.

RELATED ARTICLE: Legal Counsel Vs Lawyer – What’s the Difference?


The above examples of the different types of lawyers and what they do is a very brief overview of the types (including their responsibilities which has been kept very general). There are many other types of lawyers and legal practice areas, some of which are quite niche.

If you have any questions about any of the areas of law or types of lawyers that have been discussed here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


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