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What Kind Of Lawyer Do I Need?


Like doctors, many lawyers specialize. However, specialization among lawyers is not as neatly done nor as orderly as the medical profession. Doctors have formal training, receive designated titles, and are certified as knowledgeable by "specialty boards." Lawyers generally focus their practice but, except in limited situations, there is no national organization which sets standards of experience, education and/or ethics.

It's relatively easy to find attorneys who handle more lucrative issues. Look in any Yellow Pages, and you will see big ads for personal injury, auto accidents and workers' compensation. What you won't find are a lot of full page ads touting expertise in Wills, Guardianships, Advance Directives or Social Security. Yet, if that is your need, you certainly want someone who regularly does that kind of work and knows it thoroughly.

The referral sources listed in How Do I Find A Lawyer? can help narrow your search. Before you contact a referral source, try to have in mind the type of lawyer or field of law in which you need expertise. Some types of lawyers to consider are:

  • Testamentary lawyer: A lawyer who drafts Wills, Guardianships, Trusts, and similar types of documents.
  • Insurance lawyer: A lawyer who has have experience battling insurance companies on behalf of claimants who have been wronged by the actions of an insurance company. Insurance lawyers generally have trial experience.
  • Social Security lawyer: This is a whole separate field that requires specialized knowledge and experience. Fortunately, there are some good resources for finding them.
  • Bankruptcy lawyer: Credit and financial problems are handled by bankruptcy lawyers.
  • Civil rights lawyer: Advocates on behalf of people whose rights have been violated under various state and federal laws. Some civil rights lawyers specialize even more narrowly such as handling only claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act, or state nondiscrimination laws.
  • Medical malpractice lawyer: Can assist you if you have been harmed through negligent or wrong medical care.

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