Curious About the American Law System? Here Are 10 Legal Specialties

Whether you have big dreams of becoming an attorney who specializes in a proper area of law or you intend to hire an attorney who practices a certain area of the American law system, it can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with all of the potential specialties. After all, there are many specializations that a lawyer could choose as their area of focus for their studies and career. Although some lawyers may practice law in a more general sense, most attorneys who want to become prominent in the field for their area of expertise pick a section of the law to know like the back of their hand.

Do You Need to Have a Specialty to Become a Lawyer?

A common question that folks ask themselves (and the admissions team at their university of choice) before becoming a law student is whether they need to know what they intend to choose as their specialty before they enter law school. To add to that line of inquiry, some future law students fret over whether they’ll need to have a specialty after they graduate to become successful lawyers. While these are important questions to ask your university, the truth is that there are many paths to becoming the best lawyer you can be.

Some students who are about to enter law school have an entire plan for their future. They may have already nailed down what firms they hope to choose for an internship and what areas of law they plan to study. These folks may seem like they’re ahead of the curve if you’re one of those students who barely even know where you want to go to law school or if you want to go to law school at all.

If the idea that you don’t know what you want to pick as a specialty for your law career makes you feel insecure, you’re not alone. Many students find it overwhelming to consider what their career could be like if they don’t have it all figured out today. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need to have a specialty in mind when you’re going to law school.

Sometimes, life experiences will dictate what the best specialty would be for your law career in the American legal system. In other cases, you may start out studying the law in one section of it only to discover a passion for an entirely different area of law years down the road. Whatever your specialty ends up being as a lawyer–if you end up having a specialty at all–you’ll be well on your way to success if you have some ideas of what areas of law interest you before you practice it. Of course, if you never choose a specialty or you take a few years of feeling out what it means to be a lawyer before you specialize, your path will be valid, too.

1. Estate Planning Attorneys

If you want to help people plan for the end of their lives and how they intend to leave their legacy, you could join a team of estate planning lawyers and specialize in that area of law. Although some families don’t feel the need to hire an estate planning lawyer to handle their affairs, many folks benefit from working with a licensed attorney who understands this area of the law to ensure that their final wishes are carried out in the way they would like. After you’ve passed away, you won’t be able to change the details of your estate planning. For this reason, it’s wise to have someone walk alongside you in the process of planning your estate so that nothing is left unconsidered or neglected in the process.

In the American law system, you’ll learn that estate planning lawyers are also called “estate probate attorneys” or “estate planners” for short. As their name implies, they help people with planning their estate. One of the major tasks that estate planners have that might sound familiar to a layperson who’s never practiced law would be writing a will. A will is an important document that outlines someone’s final wishes for who would get their money and belongings or how they might like their funeral arrangements to go. While everyone puts different details in their will, the laws surrounding estate planning apply to everyone who goes through this process. If you want to do the rewarding work of helping folks plan their estates, this will be the perfect specialty for you.

2. Divorce Lawyers

While we all march down the aisle on our wedding days hoping it will last forever, a solid percentage of marriages end in divorce. Although some couples may end their marriage amicably without the need for a divorce attorney, many couples who are ready to get divorced can benefit from enlisting specialized legal help to assist them with navigating this part of the journey of ending a marriage. A divorce lawyer can advocate for your best interests in the divorce and ensure that your rights are being protected in the process. They can also file important documents on your behalf that may be confusing or impossible to complete on your own.

In the American legal system, divorce is about more than two people deciding to break off a marriage. All sorts of legal considerations come into play when a couple ends their marriage. Although it can feel invasive and upsetting to involve something as lofty as the legal system in your divorce, there’s a good reason why one would want to have a lawyer help with the divorce proceedings.

If you’ve relied on your spouse to provide for you as you were a stay-at-home spouse or stay-at-home parent, you may need some assistance from your spouse in moving on to the next stage of your life. Sometimes, folks may also let emotions run rampant during the divorce and struggle with keeping their eyes on the objective facts during a divorce. A divorce attorney can help you stay on task and stick to the objective facts of an emotional endeavor like divorce.

3. Personal Injury Lawyers

When someone has sustained an injury through a qualifying accident, their first line of defense may be contacting a personal injury law firm. After all, that’s what those lawyers are there to do. If you’ve ever seen billboards for popular personal injury firms, you may either dream of working for them or worry that you’d spend too much time in the public eye if you opted to specialize in this area of law.

While some personal injury attorneys have made it onto television commercials and major billboards, many personal injury law professionals work quietly and diligently with their clients to resolve their issues without all the media fanfare. If you were attracted to becoming a personal injury lawyer because you envision your face on billboards like theirs, the mundane reality might be boring for you. Still, there is a lot of good legal work to be done in this field whether you become notorious for all the right reasons or start your career in relative obscurity.

In the American law system, you’ll find that personal injury attorneys help clients who have been injured in a qualifying event whereas other types of attorneys will specialize in helping clients who find themselves on the other end of a personal injury case. For some folks, it may be tricky to tell whether they were the recipient of a personal injury or the case. Car accidents in particular may take extensive knowledge of the law to figure out who is entitled to benefits or other recourse. As a personal injury professional in law, you’ll have all the tools you need to act in your client’s best interests and help them understand what their options may be during a challenging time.

4. Family Lawyers

If you’re going through the American law system to determine how you want to work out the custody of your children or other family members, you’ll need specialized legal help to get the job done. Sometimes, if you try to resolve these issues on your own, you may find it challenging to come to a conclusion that feels fair and ethical to all parties involved. What’s more, you will most likely struggle to follow the laws surrounding parental rights and custody arrangements if you don’t get professional legal help in this regard.

While you may be tempted to work out custody problems without a family law attorney, it pays to invest in your family’s dynamic and lean on the advice of a qualified legal professional. When you’re talking about something as personal as custody of children, emotions can run high. This can make it challenging to view the situation through an objective lens that allows for productive conversations that focus on the solutions that are available to you and your family.

Family law professionals may also be able to help you with other family-oriented legal issues such as providing your ex-spouse with alimony and spousal support after a divorce. Of course, the only way to know if a legal issue would be best helped by a lawyer in a specific concentration of the American law system would be by asking for a consultation. While most attorneys provide free consultations, you should ask about a lawyer’s consultation fees before you agree to speak with them regarding your legal concerns.

5. Worker’s Compensation Attorneys

If someone is dealing with work related injuries, it can be a good idea to consult with lawyers who have experience working with worker’s compensation laws. Since the Workers’ Compensation Act provides certain protections and benefits to employees, it can be a good idea for any attorney to become familiar with this side of the American law system. If you find it enjoyable and fulfilling to study that area of law, you may find that becoming a worker’s comp attorney is right for you.

6. Civil Attorneys

For civil matters in the family, it may be wise to hire a divorce lawyer. Likewise, if you like helping families resolve these kinds of issues, being a civil lawyer may be best for you. It will allow you to make a difference in the lives of your community members through the American law system.

7. Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you want to help clients connect with the cheapest bail bond agency, you may want to consider becoming a criminal defense lawyer. You’ll help clients navigate the American law system. You’ll also assist them with preparing to defend themselves in court or accept a plea deal that works for them.

8. DUI Attorneys

When someone gets into an accident that involves alcohol, they’ll want to call their auto insurance plan provider. They’ll also need to call a qualified attorney to help them navigate the issue. On the professional end of things, you may want to consider becoming a DUI lawyer in the American law system if these types of cases match your professional interests.

9. Disability Lawyers

Whether you want to help people get the most out of their disability insurance or you’re a person with disabilities who needs help navigating the American law system, disability is an area of law that requires specialized knowledge. If you’ve worked in healthcare, you may find this area of law rewarding if you transition to it. It can also feel empowering to advocate for the rights of folks with disabilities.

10. Public Defenders

If you want to work with a bondsman and help low-income clients, becoming a public defender can be a great choice. Although every attorney in the American law system must do some pro bono work, public defenders work with low-income clients exclusively. They mostly work in the criminal justice system defending clients.

The way that lawyers find their place in the American law system varies. Some might become specialists because a specific type of case keeps finding its way to their desk or office. Others might become specialists because they are drawn to areas of law. For some lawyers, what they want to do for their specialization is a personal matter. Others may end up in professional environments that prepare them to take on specific kinds of legal cases. Everyone finds their path in their way on their own time.