If you are looking for a lawyer in New Orleans, the first thing you need to do is to figure out the TYPE of lawyer that you need. Lawyers specialize in many different areas (also called practice areas) in that same way that doctors specialize in certain fields. You would never get a foot doctor for a brain operation in the same way you would not want a bankruptcy specialist representing you in a criminal case.
So, what are the different areas of legal practice?
Considered to be a branch of public law, Administrative Law refers to regulating the procedures, activities, and operation of bureaucratic government agencies. The actions of these agencies may consist of policymaking, making judgment decisions, and regulatory agenda enforcement. The purpose of Administrative Law is to protect the public interest as it pertains to dealings with the government and to ensure there is no abuse of power by the legislative agencies.
Arbitration (also known as Alternative Dispute Resolution) is the process of using an arbitrator (an entity assigned to settle a dispute) to resolve disputes outside of court. An arbitrator will review evidence, hear the parties plead their cases and evidence, and then make a decision, which may be a binding or a nonbinding determination. The intent of arbitration is to save the disputing parties both time and money. Arbitrators, unlike mediators, are not tasked with striking a compromise.
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law is in place to safeguard businesses from unjust limitations and ensure a spirited market. Many believe that without these anti-trust laws, consumers would not be able to economically purchase quality goods and services. Antitrust lawyers are hired when a business (small or large) protest against other business’ practices that could lead to an imbalanced advantage, such as a merger causing an industry monopoly.
Strategically different than trial practice, the appellate practice seeks to reverse an unfavorable prior judgment (or in some cases to preserve a victorious prior judgment), by prevailing upon appellate courts to overturn decisions previously made in lower courts. Importantly, the decisions reached in these appeals often become precedent.
Individuals, couples, or businesses that are unable to pay their debts can initiate the legal procedure of bankruptcy, with the intent of having their debts discharged (Chapter 7), reorganized (Chapter 11), or granted additional time to pay (Chapter 13) by the courts. In liquidation bankruptcy situations, the debtor must relinquish their non-exempt property which will be sold, with the proceeds from the sale going to the creditors. In reorganization bankruptcy scenarios, debtors must comply with an installment plan of repayment to the creditors but are able to keep their property.
Business law (also known as commercial or corporate law) refers to handling new business formation, and many aspects of the running of a business. It covers such topics as regulating hiring practices and corporate contracts, governing the manufacture and sale of consumer goods and services, and intellectual property and copyright protection.
There is a general division in law between "civil" cases and "criminal" cases. A "civil" practice refers to legal issues that are not "punished" by the government (criminal prosecution). See also "general practice" below.
Civil rights law focuses on freedom from discrimination for protected classes of citizens, based on race, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and more. Civil rights refer to protecting these citizens from discrimination by both the government and private parties. Civil rights attorneys work to pass new legislation as society’s understanding evolves about classes of people who suffer discrimination.
Collections Lawyers are normally hired as the final stage for creditors, should their attempts to collect funds for an unpaid account be unsuccessful. Collection Lawyers are not Collection Agents since Collection Agencies cannot file lawsuits on behalf of their clients. Both creditors and individuals can appoint a Collections Lawyer. A Collections Lawyer also needs to know basic bankruptcy rules and processes should their clients find themselves in a pre-bankruptcy situation and need advice on how to proceed with outstanding accounts.
(See business law)
Covering a vast range of legal issues such as contracts, bonds, guarantees, liens, permits, negligence, and more, construction law deals with topics relating to engineering, building construction, and other associated fields. Due to all levels of government having a hand in construction regulations, legal issues may arise under local, state, or federal laws.
Contract law interprets, enforces, and governs the legality of agreements made between two or more parties relating to the exchange of goods, services, money, or property. When the parties’ agreement stipulates a pledge to execute some action in exchange for advantage or gain, it is legally binding, even if it was agreed-to verbally.
(See business law)
Criminal law focuses on the punishment and rehabilitation of offenders of criminal laws, which include engaging in activity perceived to be threatening, endangering, or harmful to another’s (or one’s own) health, safety, moral welfare, or property.
A primary goal of a debtor-creditor lawyer is to avoid bankruptcy court for their clients. They help their clients remain solvent by managing debt. Issues they focus on are credit satisfaction (i.e. debt priority and liens), correct procedures for credit extension, and the rights of consumers in relation to debt collection.
Handled by family law attorneys, divorce can involve child custody, child and/or spousal support, and division of property when two parties seek to terminate their financial and legal relationship of marriage.
Education law focuses on all topics pertaining to schools. These issues include teachers’ and students’ rights, conduct and discipline, school safety, special education, discrimination, curriculum, and more. Expanding access to quality education for all children, and advocating for increased access to higher education, are cornerstones of education law.
Encompassing a vast spectrum of subjects, employee benefits law includes guiding clients on matters of compliance in regard to new statutes and regulations, planning and drafting documents pertaining to retirement plans, and counseling their clients on fiduciary duties, tax issues, and executive compensation packages.
Energy law focuses on the creation and enforcement of laws relating to the regulation of energy creation, harvesting and usage, and the taxation of energy usage. It includes licensing and ownership rights, and adjudication in regard to those rights.
Also known as media law, entertainment law covers different forms of media including film, television, advertising, publishing, and music. Many services of entertainment law are transaction-based, including the negotiation and drafting of contracts. Many of its services also overlap with aspects of intellectual property law, including copyright and trademarks.
Covering a variety of issues such as air and water quality, pollution, waste management, and even hunting and fishing, environmental law is concerned with protecting the environment and governing the way citizens use natural resources.
Family law focuses on the issues surrounding marriage and divorce, civil unions, domestic partnerships, child custody, and adoption. It also addresses juvenile law matters such as delinquency, emancipation, and status offenses.
Finance Law requires highly skilled and knowledgeable lawyers due to the constant progression in the financial aspects of the business. Finance Law isn’t limited to banks and financial intuitions. Large corporations could use a Financial Lawyer when organizing mergers and stocks/investments, while a small business could use one when establishing new business to ensure the company is set up correctly to meet all legal and financial requirements.
Typically, as a solo practitioner or within a small law firm, a general practitioner does not limit their specialty to any particular area of law, but rather practices in multiple areas such as bankruptcy, family, insurance real estate, personal injury and estate planning.
Government lawyers practice across a vast area of laws and every practice type, but their common focus is that they advocate for or represent mass populations of citizens or governmental institutions, rather than individual citizens or corporations.
Health care law governs who may receive healthcare, who should pay for that care, and who must be covered by health insurance. Health care lawyers assist patients in applying for benefits and planning for long-term care. They also work to ensure that the rights of patients, including consent and privacy, are respected.
Insurance Law focuses not only on the rules and regulations for insurance companies but also on the policy contents for clients and claims on the policy. Lawyers from other sectors tend to have a basic knowledge of Insurance Law due to the wide variety of industries that are covered within Insurance Law – such as homeowners/renters, automobile, life, health, etc.
Insurance Defense Attorneys are normally hired by insurance companies when one of their clients finds themselves in a situation where they are being sued in connection with their insurance policy. Any claims made against an insured will need to be verified by an Insurance Defense Attorney to make sure it’s covered within their policy. Insurance Defense Attorneys can work for the insurance company directly or for a law firm that works with the insurance company.
Intellectual Property Law encourages people and businesses to create new inventions for the public’s benefit while protecting their interest for their own benefit. Copyrights and Patents are two types of Intellectual Property, but these aren’t limited to physical property (such as products) because the non-physical property (such as trade secrets) can be just as valuable to protect.
Referring to relations amongst nations, international law (or the law of nations) encompasses the generally accepted standards, principles, and rules to which they adhere. Areas of international concern such as migration, refugees, human rights, and disarmament, as well as global issues such as world trade, outer space, and international waters are the domain of international law.
Regulating the relationship between employers and employees, labor law (or employment law) seeks to ensure that owners and workers alike are treated respectfully and in a fair manner. Determining the conditions under which employees may work regarding safety and compensation and addressing issues such as discrimination and unfair labor practices, labor law protects both parties throughout all stages of the employment journey, from interview through termination.
Lawyers and law firms are required to follow a specific code of ethics when entering into the legal world. Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law is the sector of law that focuses on this and not only ensures that individuals and businesses are obeying these laws but also represents them when their ethics come into question. Individuals outside of the legal sector can also hire a Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Attorney should they need to file a complaint against a lawyer or firm.
Companies or Individuals will appoint a Litigation Attorney if they require representation as either the defendant or plaintiff in a civil lawsuit. Even though Litigation Attorneys are also known as Trial Attorneys there are many steps between the initial filing of the case and the trial; such as exploration, motions, depositions, discovery, etc. A Litigation Attorney protects the client’s best interest and acts as their advocate during the proceedings.
Medical malpractice law is concerned with the liability of healthcare providers when their negligence causes harm to a patient. Practitioners of medical malpractice law seek to win compensation for the clients’ suffering (both physical pain and emotional distress), lost earnings, decreased future earning potential, and medical expenses.
Companies will hire a Merger and Acquisitions Attorney to protect themselves when working with another company to either buy that company completely or combine that company with theirs to create a new company. If a company needs to sell off supplementary assets, it will call on a Divestitures Attorney. Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestitures Law are important to ensure each party does their due diligence prior to finalizing any contracts and make sure everything is properly filed with any state and federal agencies upon completion.
Negligence occurs when a person or business acts in a careless manner resulting in injury or destruction to another. Negligence Law must evaluate all aspects of the situation in order to prove that the other party had a responsibility to the client yet failed to complete their obligation or their lack of caution in doing so caused damages to the client. Negligence Lawyers must also prove that the client’s injury/damage occurred within the scope of the other party’s duty.
When an individual or entity is harmed by the negligence of another, a Personal Injury Lawyer is retained. The personal injury in question doesn’t have to be physical (like a car accident, medical accident, or assault). It can also be an attack on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Personal Injury lawsuits are normally filed to recoup funds lost/incurred or to seek compensation for pain and suffering due to the negligence.
A person’s estate consists of his or her physical and personal property. Estate law concerns the planning, both during that person’s lifetime and after their death, for their property and finances (through wills and trusts), as well as for what that person prefers to have happened if they become unable to care for themselves or express their decisions or wishes (through powers of attorney, advance directives and guardianships). Probate refers to the process by which a person’s will is proven to be their final testament.
Responsibility (or liability) for a defective product that causes injury to a consumer lies with all vendors who are part of the distribution chain. Product Liability Lawyers will need to prove that there was either an assembly error, a lack of caution, or a design fault in order to find the manufacture negligent. On the reverse side, a Product Liability Lawyer retained by the manufacture will try to prove that the buyer mishandled or modified the product after purchase but prior to the injury.
The legal sector that can hold professionals accountable for any misconduct is known as Professional Liability Law. Professionals must adhere to their industry’s specific rules and regulations in order to determine their particular liability. Some professionals can protect themselves from unfounded claims by purchasing Professional Liability Insurance or working as part of a larger corporation.
Real Estate Law is also known as Property Law since it’s the area of the legal system that handles physical land property (both residential and commercial). A Real Estate Attorney may be retained to assist with purchasing and/or selling as well as operating property. While there are some federal laws in place, each state creates its own real estate laws so it’s best to have a Real Estate Attorney that specializes in the state where your property is located.
Individuals and Companies regularly invest their money in financial mediums such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Securities Law focuses on these transactions as they can originate from either public or private entities. A Securities Attorney will assist with obtaining these investments as well as safeguarding them from fraud or even defend you should a claim arise from one of these investments.
Social Security is a governmental program established to provide benefits to retired workers, those with disabilities who are unable to work and even possibly family members of deceased workers. One may hire a Social Security Attorney to assist with filing for benefits or fighting for benefits should their claim be refused. Social Security Law is affected by both state and federal rules and regulations.
Taxation Law focuses on the evaluation and payment or non-payment of taxes at a state and/or federal level. A Taxation Attorney may be appointed to assist with locating deductions and credits to reduce one’s tax liability, however, most of the time a Taxation Attorney is hired when a dispute is already in place. A Taxation Attorney could prevent their client from receiving a hefty fine should discrepancies be found in their returns.
Tort Law (also known as Personal Injury Law) is the sector of the legal system focused on obtaining a resolution for personal wrongdoing as a result of another’s negligence. Tort Attorneys normally seek a monetary reimbursement for funds spent or lost due to the physical, emotional, or mental damages encountered.
Transportation Law is not limited to the road but also relates to water, rail, and air – basically any method that moves us from place to place (including the infrastructure). Transportation Laws are set at a local, state, and federal level and can be either very general (ie: required seat belts or safety drills) or very specific (ie: paperwork needed for movement of hazardous materials).
Local governments establish Zoning Laws for land use while Land Use Laws determine how the land can be used within that zone. There are normally independent areas for residential vs commercial vs industrial. Zoning Planning and Land Use Law ensure that each parcel of land is being built and operated correctly with the properly filed documents, permits, etc. A Zoning Planning and Land Use Attorney could be called upon when an owner or potential owner has questions about the land vs it’s intended use.
Both businesses and individuals can hire an Immigration and Naturalization Lawyer. Businesses may use them to assist with obtaining work visas or residency/citizenship for new or current employees of the company. Individuals looking to relocate to the US may seek out an Immigration Lawyer to assist with requirements needed for this transition. Immigration and Naturalization Lawyers also help those who might find themselves in the deportation process. Being able to speak multiple languages will give an Immigration and Naturalization Lawyer an advantage since they deal mostly with people from other countries, where English may not be their first language.