Practice of Law

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Related to Practice of Law: Unauthorized practice of law

Practice of Law

The professional tasks performed by lawyers in their offices or in court on a day-to-day basis. With the growth of specialization, it has become difficult to generalize about the practice of law. Nevertheless, common elements can be identified in the disparate typical workday of, for example, a criminal defense attorney and a probate attorney.

The practice of law depends on lawyers having clients. Therefore, lawyers must spend time with clients or potential clients. In these meetings lawyers are expected to do more than just listen to their clients' concerns and desires. Lawyers must ask questions that help identity the legal issues at stake and use the answers to make an initial assessment of the case. If the legal and factual issues are simple a lawyer may be able to offer the client legal advice. If the issues are more complex or the facts are unclear the lawyer will defer offering advice. At the end of the meeting the client or the lawyer may decide they do not want to pursue the matter any further. If they agree to proceed, however, the client will often sign a retainer agreement that specifies what the lawyer will charge and how payments will be made.

Once a legal problem or issue has been identified the lawyer must act on the client's behalf and research the law of the state or jurisdiction. If the client wants a will or contract prepared, the lawyer will draft the document. If the client has a dispute with a party, the lawyer may contact that party or the party's attorney, to discuss the situation. If the problem cannot be resolved informally the lawyer may file a civil lawsuit with a local court and begin the litigation process. These types of actions are mirrored in the Criminal Law, where prosecutors represent the state and defense lawyers represent those persons charged with crimes. If a criminal matter cannot be resolved through a plea bargain, the case must be tried in court.

The practice of law is most public when a matter is tried before a court. In both civil and criminal hearings and trials, lawyers must understand rules of procedure and evidence. Lawyers select jurors, challenge the introduction of evidence, make arguments to the judge and jury, propose jury instructions and do whatever is necessary to represent their clients. Lawyers also may file appeals on behalf of their clients if they lose in the trial court. Appeals require the preparation of a brief and oral argument in front of appellate judges.

An overlooked part of the practice of law is the collection of money on behalf of the client. Once a court issues a final judgment awarding damages, court costs, and attorneys' fees, an attorney must secure payment from the other party. If the party fails to pay the judgment the attorney can garnish the wages of the party and attach the party's Personal Property in order to obtain the money to which the client is legally entitled.

Further readings

Bogus, Carl T. 2001. Why Lawsuits are Good for America: Disciplined Democracy, Big Business, and the Common Law. New York: New York Univ. Press.

Foonberg, Jay G. 1999. How to Start and Build a Law Practice. 4th ed. Chicago: American Bar Association.

Hobson, Wayne K. 1986. The American Legal Profession and the Organizational Society, 1890–1930. New York: Garland.

Walton, Kimm Alayane. 2000. What Law School Doesn't Teach You … But You Really Need to Know. New York: Harcourt Brace Legal and Professional Publications.


Attorney-Client Privilege; Attorney Misconduct; Canons of Ethics; Ethics, Legal; Lawyer; Legal Malpractice; Professional Responsibility.

References in periodicals archive ?
The response of the legal community in general, then, and of unauthorized practice of law committees and state judiciaries in particular, should not be focused on enforcing unauthorized practice of law definitions and regulations best left to another era.
Some state statutes categorize the unauthorized practice of law as a misdemeanor criminal act.
We congratulate him on his recent appointment by the Supreme Court of Florida to serve on the Standing Committee on Unlicensed Practice of Law, and look forward to his further accomplishments at BankAtlantic and his commitment to community volunteerism.
To learn more about UPL and the 2003 decision, read the September/October 2003 Catalyst article, "Crossing the Line: What CPAs Need to Know About the Unauthorized Practice of Law," available online to Ohio Society members at www.
Only a consent decree coupled with the enforcement powers of the court will provide the necessary protection to the public caused by the unauthorized practice of law," he stated.
The Ohio Supreme Court's Unauthorized Practice of Law Board has recognized that "certified public accountants perform a valuable function in advising on financial matters in the formation of a company, such as how best to structure a business entity for tax benefits.
The court order held that "CPAs do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law when they render professional assistance, including compensated representation before agencies and the Probate Court, that is within their professional expertise and qualifications.
The reality of the practice of law in the 1990s requires the profession to look to the future, not the past.
Any persons having knowledge bearing upon Kurpiers's fitness or qualifications to resume the practice of law should contact Troy Matthew Lovell, Bar Counsel, The Florida Bar, 4200 George J.
LexisNexis practice management solutions are part of LexisNexis Total Practice Solutions, the company's overarching offering of solutions to help lawyers and law firms succeed in the business and practice of law.
Venie was suspended from the practice of law for one year effective 30 days from October 11, 2012, for pursuing a frivolous claim involving a lis pendens, and for committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, truthfulness, or fitness as a lawyer, for engaging in fraudulent conduct, and for engaging in conduct in connection to the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice by filing a false sworn affidavit to correct deficiencies on a quit claim deed.
Our core values - the practice of law at the highest quality level, the highest standards of ethical behavior and collegiality in our relationships - have earned our firm its national reputation, and we are pleased to merge with a group that shares these values," said George Matkov, Matkov Salzman Founding Partner.

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