A Lawyer also known as a barrister or solicitor, or an attorney is a person who has been trained in law and is certified to give legal advice and also to represent others in litigation. He is a member of the legal profession and may belong to the High Court or Supreme Court of a country. Most lawyers in the West practice privately, either as partners in law firms or in solo practices.
Names and nomenclatures
The legal system permeates every aspect of our society, from crossing a street to buying a house, and lawyers form the very backbone of this vital system. In Commonwealth countries, there are generally two types of lawyers – solicitors and barristers. The solicitor prepares the case and may or may not present it in the lower courts, while a barrister presents the case prepared by solicitor in the higher courts and sometimes even in the lower courts. In some commonwealth countries the role of both the barrister as well as solicitor has been fused whereby both perform all duties.
In the US attorneys act on the behalf of their clients and are called agents. Agents may or may not be qualified lawyers, in which case they cannot fight a case but prepare it for the attorney at law who represents his client’s case in the court. People believe that in America there are more lawyers than any where else in the world. Actually in the US role of attorneys is much wider than these other countries where several professions do the work that is done by lawyers in the US.
The situation in European countries is very different and anyone who holds a degree in law is called a lawyer, or a ‘jurist’ but cannot represent his client in court; to do that most countries like Germany, Romania, Italy require their jurists to pass another difficult exam before the jurists in common law countries become full fledged lawyers. The commonwealth countries require their lawyers to wear black robes and white neck tabs.
Nature of work and discipline
Lawyers act as both advocates and advisors for their clients and, like doctors, have their area of specialization. Thus, there are criminal lawyers, civil lawyers, lawyers who specialize in bankruptcy or intellectual property. Most countries have bar associations or law societies that require all lawyers to become members of the association or the society. These associations deal with issues like fee disputes, rules etc. to promote the greater good of the profession.