Lawyer

Lawyer

Overview
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States. It was founded by Henry Campbell Black. It is the reference of choice for definitions in legal briefs and court opinions and has been cited as a secondary legal authority in many U.S...

, is "a person learned in the law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

; as an attorney
Attorney at law
An attorney at law in the United States is a practitioner in a court of law who is legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. Alternative terms include counselor and lawyer...

, counsel
Counsel
A counsel or a counselor gives advice, more particularly in legal matters.-U.K. and Ireland:The legal system in England uses the term counsel as an approximate synonym for a barrister-at-law, and may apply it to mean either a single person who pleads a cause, or collectively, the body of barristers...

 or solicitor
Solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

; a person who is practicing law." Law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign
Sovereign
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.Sovereign may also refer to:*Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy*Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States*Sovereign...

 government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political and social authority, and deliver justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services.

The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and so it can be treated here in only the most general terms. More information is available in country-specific articles (see below).

In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.
  • In Australia the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barrister
    Barrister
    A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

    s and solicitor
    Solicitor
    Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

    s (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel).
  • In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec
    Quebec
    Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

    .
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Encyclopedia
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States. It was founded by Henry Campbell Black. It is the reference of choice for definitions in legal briefs and court opinions and has been cited as a secondary legal authority in many U.S...

, is "a person learned in the law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

; as an attorney
Attorney at law
An attorney at law in the United States is a practitioner in a court of law who is legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. Alternative terms include counselor and lawyer...

, counsel
Counsel
A counsel or a counselor gives advice, more particularly in legal matters.-U.K. and Ireland:The legal system in England uses the term counsel as an approximate synonym for a barrister-at-law, and may apply it to mean either a single person who pleads a cause, or collectively, the body of barristers...

 or solicitor
Solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

; a person who is practicing law." Law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign
Sovereign
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.Sovereign may also refer to:*Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy*Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States*Sovereign...

 government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political and social authority, and deliver justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services.

The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and so it can be treated here in only the most general terms. More information is available in country-specific articles (see below).

Terminology


In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.
  • In Australia the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barrister
    Barrister
    A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

    s and solicitor
    Solicitor
    Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

    s (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel).
  • In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec
    Quebec
    Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

    . Common law lawyers in Canada may also be known as "barristers and solicitors", but should not be referred to as "attorneys", since that term has a different meaning in Canadian usage. However, in Quebec, civil law advocates (or avocats in French) often call themselves "attorney" and sometimes "barrister and solicitor".
  • In England and Wales, "lawyer" is used loosely to refer to a broad variety of law-trained persons. It includes practitioners such as barrister
    Barrister
    A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

    s, solicitor
    Solicitor
    Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

    s, legal executive
    Legal Executive
    Legal executives are trained legal professionals in England & Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong who often specialise in a particular area of law. There is, however, no direct equivalent to a legal executive in Scotland...

    s and licensed conveyancer
    Licensed Conveyancer
    A Licensed Conveyancer is a specialist legal professional in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa who has been trained to deal with all aspects of property law.Typically, their tasks might include:...

    s, ; and people who are involved with the law but do not practise it on behalf of individual clients, such as judges, court clerks, and drafters of legislation.
  • In India, the term "lawyer" is often colloquially used, but the official term is "advocate" as prescribed under the Advocates Act, 1961.
  • In Scotland, the word "lawyer" refers to a more specific group of legally trained people. It specifically includes advocates and solicitors. In a generic sense, it may also include judges and law-trained support staff.
  • In the United States, the term generally refers to attorneys who may practice law
    Practice of law
    In its most general sense, the practice of law involves giving legal advice to clients, drafting legal documents for clients, and representing clients in legal negotiations and court proceedings such as lawsuits, and is applied to the professional services of a lawyer or attorney at law, barrister,...

    ; it is never used to refer to patent agents or paralegal
    Paralegal
    Paralegal is used in most jurisdictions to describe a paraprofessional who assists qualified lawyers in their legal work. This is true in the United States and many other countries. However, in Ontario, Canada, paralegals are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, giving paralegals an...

    s.
  • Other nations tend to have comparable terms for the analogous concept.

Responsibilities


In most countries, particularly civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries
Civil law notary
Civil-law notaries, or Latin notaries, are lawyers of noncontentious private civil law who draft, take, and record legal instruments for private parties, provide legal advice and give attendance in person, and are vested as public officers with the authentication power of the State...

, clerks, and scriveners. These countries do not have "lawyers" in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider; rather, their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained persons, known as jurist
Jurist
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...

s, of which only some are advocates who are licensed to practice in the courts. It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations that cover all the countries with multiple legal professions, because each country has traditionally had its own peculiar method of dividing up legal work among all its different types of legal professionals.

Notably, England, the mother of the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions, emerged from the Dark Ages with similar complexity in its legal professions, but then evolved by the 19th century to a single dichotomy between barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

s and solicitor
Solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

s. An equivalent dichotomy developed between advocates and procurators in some civil law countries, though these two types did not always monopolize the practice of law as much as barristers and solicitors, in that they always coexisted with civil law notaries.

Several countries that originally had two or more legal professions have since fused
Fused profession
Fused profession is a term relating to jurisdictions where the legal profession is not divided between barristers and solicitors.It is generally used in the context of Commonwealth countries which have provided by statute for there to be a single profession of "Barrister and Solicitor".In practice,...

 or united their professions into a single type of lawyer. Most countries in this category are common law countries, though France, a civil law country, merged together its jurists in 1990 and 1991 in response to Anglo-American competition.
In countries with fused professions, a lawyer is usually permitted to carry out all or nearly all the responsibilities listed below.

Oral argument in the courts


Arguing a client's case before a judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

 or jury
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

 in a court of law is the traditional province of the barrister in England, and of advocates in some civil law jurisdictions. However, the boundary between barristers and solicitors has evolved. In England today, the barrister monopoly covers only appellate courts, and barristers must compete directly with solicitors in many trial courts. In countries like the United States that have fused legal professions, there are trial lawyers who specialize in trying cases in court, but trial lawyers do not have a de jure monopoly like barristers.
In some countries, litigants have the option of arguing pro se, or on their own behalf. It is common for litigants to appear unrepresented before certain courts like small claims court
Small claims court
Small-claims courts have limited jurisdiction to hear civil cases between private litigants. Courts authorized to try small claims may also have other judicial functions, and the name by which such a court is known varies by jurisdiction; it may be known as a county or magistrate's court...

s; indeed, many such courts do not allow lawyers to speak for their clients, in an effort to save money for all participants in a small case. In other countries, like Venezuela, no one may appear before a judge unless represented by a lawyer. The advantage of the latter regime is that lawyers are familiar with the court's customs and procedures, and make the legal system more efficient for all involved. Unrepresented parties often damage their own credibility or slow the court down as a result of their inexperience.

Research and drafting of court papers


Often, lawyers brief a court in writing on the issues in a case before the issues can be orally argued. They may have to perform extensive research into relevant facts and law while drafting legal papers and preparing for oral argument.

In England, the usual division of labour is that a solicitor will obtain the facts of the case from the client and then brief a barrister (usually in writing). The barrister then researches and drafts the necessary court pleadings (which will be filed and served by the solicitor) and orally argues the case.

In Spain, the procurator merely signs and presents the papers to the court, but it is the advocate who drafts the papers and argues the case.

In some countries, like Japan, a scrivener
Scrivener
A scrivener was traditionally a person who could read and write. This usually indicated secretarial and administrative duties such as dictation and keeping business, judicial, and history records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities...

 or clerk may fill out court forms and draft simple papers for lay persons who cannot afford or do not need attorneys, and advise them on how to manage and argue their own cases.

Advocacy (written and oral) in administrative hearings


In most developed countries, the legislature has granted original jurisdiction
Original jurisdiction
The original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a court has the power to review a lower court's decision.-France:...

 over highly technical matters to executive branch administrative agencies which oversee such things. As a result, some lawyers have become specialists in administrative law
Administrative law
Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law...

. In a few countries, there is a special category of jurists with a monopoly over this form of advocacy; for example, France formerly had conseils juridiques (who were merged into the main legal profession in 1991). In other countries, like the United States, lawyers have been effectively barred by statute from certain types of administrative hearings in order to preserve their informality.

Client intake and counseling (with regard to pending litigation)


An important aspect of a lawyer's job is developing and managing relationships with clients (or the client's employees, if the lawyer works in-house for a government or corporation). The client-lawyer relationship often begins with an intake interview where the lawyer gets to know the client personally, discovers the facts of the client's case, clarifies what the client wants to accomplish, shapes the client's expectations as to what actually can be accomplished, begins to develop various claims or defenses, and explains his or her fees to the client.

In England, only solicitors were traditionally in direct contact with the client. The solicitor retained a barrister if one was necessary and acted as an intermediary between the barrister and the client. In most cases a barrister would be obliged, under what is known as the "cab rank rule", to accept instructions for a case in an area in which they held themselves out as practising, at a court at which they normally appeared and at their usual rates.

Legal advice



Legal advice is the application of abstract principles of law to the concrete facts of the client's case in order to advise the client about what they should do next. In many countries, only a properly licensed lawyer may provide legal advice to clients for good consideration
Consideration
Consideration is the central concept in the common law of contracts and is required, in most cases, for a contract to be enforceable. Consideration is the price one pays for another's promise. It can take a number of forms: money, property, a promise, the doing of an act, or even refraining from...

, even if no lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 is contemplated or is in progress. Therefore, even conveyancers and corporate in-house counsel must first get a license to practice, though they may actually spend very little of their careers in court. Failure to obey such a rule is the crime of unauthorized practice of law.

In other countries, jurists who hold law degrees are allowed to provide legal advice to individuals or to corporations, and it is irrelevant if they lack a license and cannot appear in court. Some countries go further; in England and Wales, there is no general prohibition on the giving of legal advice. Sometimes civil law notaries are allowed to give legal advice, as in Belgium.
In many countries, non-jurist accountants may provide what is technically legal advice in tax and accounting matters.

Protecting intellectual property


In virtually all countries, patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

s, trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

s, industrial designs
Industrial design rights
An industrial design right is an intellectual property right that protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three...

 and other forms of intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 must be formally registered with a government agency in order to receive maximum protection under the law. The division of such work among lawyers, licensed non-lawyer jurists/agents, and ordinary clerks or scriveners varies greatly from one country to the next.

Negotiating and drafting contracts


In some countries, the negotiating and drafting of contracts is considered to be similar to the provision of legal advice, so that it is subject to the licensing requirement explained above. In others, jurists or notaries may negotiate or draft contracts.

Lawyers in some civil law countries traditionally deprecated "transactional law" or "business law" as beneath them. French law firms developed transactional departments only in the 1990s when they started to lose business to international firms based in the United States and the United Kingdom (where solicitors have always done transactional work).

Conveyancing


Conveyancing is the drafting of the documents necessary for the transfer of real property
Real property
In English Common Law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is any subset of land that has been legally defined and the improvements to it made by human efforts: any buildings, machinery, wells, dams, ponds, mines, canals, roads, various property rights, and so forth...

, such as deed
Deed
A deed is any legal instrument in writing which passes, or affirms or confirms something which passes, an interest, right, or property and that is signed, attested, delivered, and in some jurisdictions sealed...

s and mortgages. In some jurisdictions, all real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

 transactions must be carried out by a lawyer (or a solicitor where that distinction still exists). Such a monopoly is quite valuable from the lawyer's point of view; historically, conveyancing accounted for about half of English solicitors' income (though this has since changed), and a 1978 study showed that conveyancing "accounts for as much as 80 percent of solicitor-client contact in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

." In most common law jurisdictions outside of the United States, this monopoly arose from an 1804 law that was introduced by William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger was a British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24 . He left office in 1801, but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806...

 as a quid pro quo
Quid pro quo
Quid pro quo most often means a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services. English speakers often use the term to mean "a favour for a favour" and the phrases with almost identical meaning include: "give and take", "tit for tat", "this for that", and "you scratch my back,...

for the raising of fees on the certification of legal professionals such as barristers, solicitors, attorneys and notaries.

In others, the use of a lawyer is optional and banks, title companies, or realtors may be used instead. In some civil law jurisdictions, real estate transactions are handled by civil law notaries. In England and Wales a special class of legal professional–the licensed conveyancer
Licensed Conveyancer
A Licensed Conveyancer is a specialist legal professional in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa who has been trained to deal with all aspects of property law.Typically, their tasks might include:...

–is also allowed to carry out conveyancing services for reward.

Carrying out the intent of the deceased


In many countries, only lawyers have the legal authority to draft wills
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

, trusts, and any other documents that ensure the efficient disposition of a person's property after death. In some civil law countries this responsibility is handled by civil law notaries.

In the United States, the estates of the deceased must generally be administered by a court through probate
Probate
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under the valid will. A probate court decides the validity of a testator's will...

. American lawyers have a profitable monopoly on dispensing advice about probate law (which has been heavily criticized).

Prosecution and defense of criminal suspects


In many civil law countries, prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

s are trained and employed as part of the judiciary; they are law-trained jurists, but may not necessarily be lawyers in the sense that the word is used in the common law world. In common law countries, prosecutors are usually lawyers holding regular licenses who simply happen to work for the government office that files criminal charges against suspects. Criminal defense lawyer
Criminal defense lawyer
A criminal defense lawyer is a lawyer specializing in the defense of individuals and companies charged with criminal conduct. Criminal defense lawyers can be permanently employed by the various jurisdictions with criminal courts. Such lawyers are often called public defenders. For a much more...

s specialize in the defense of those charged with any crimes.

Education


The educational prerequisites to becoming a lawyer vary greatly from country to country. In some countries, law is taught by a faculty of law, which is a department of a university's general undergraduate college. Law students in those countries pursue a Master
Master of Laws
The Master of Laws is an advanced academic degree, pursued by those holding a professional law degree, and is commonly abbreviated LL.M. from its Latin name, Legum Magister. The University of Oxford names its taught masters of laws B.C.L...

 or Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Laws
The Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law originating in England and offered in most common law countries as the primary law degree...

 degree. In some countries it is common or even required for students to earn another bachelor's degree at the same time. Nor is the LL.B the sole obstacle; it is often followed by a series of advanced examinations, apprenticeships, and additional coursework at special government institutes.

In other countries, particularly the United States, law is primarily taught at law school
Law school
A law school is an institution specializing in legal education.- Law degrees :- Canada :...

s. In the United States and countries following the American model, (such as Canada with the exception of the province of Quebec) law schools are graduate/professional schools where a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission. Most law schools are part of universities but a few are independent institutions. Law schools in the United States (and many in Canada and elsewhere) award graduating students a J.D. (Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

/Doctor of Jurisprudence) (as opposed to the Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Laws
The Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law originating in England and offered in most common law countries as the primary law degree...

) as the practitioner's law degree. Many schools also offer post-doctoral law degrees such as the LL.M (Legum Magister/Master of Laws), or the S.J.D. (Scientiae Juridicae Doctor/Doctor of Juridical Science) for students interested in advancing their research knowledge and credentials in a specific area of law.

The methods and quality of legal education vary widely. Some countries require extensive clinical training in the form of apprenticeships or special clinical courses. Others, like Venezuela, do not. A few countries prefer to teach through assigned readings of judicial opinions (the casebook method
Casebook method
The casebook method, also known as the case method, is the primary method of teaching law in law schools in the United States. It was pioneered at Harvard Law School by Christopher Columbus Langdell...

) followed by intense in-class cross-examination by the professor (the Socratic method
Socratic method
The Socratic method , named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas...

). Many others have only lectures on highly abstract legal doctrines, which forces young lawyers to figure out how to actually think and write like a lawyer at their first apprenticeship (or job). Depending upon the country, a typical class size could range from five students in a seminar to five hundred in a giant lecture room. In the United States, law schools maintain small class sizes, and as such, grant admissions on a more limited and competitive basis.

Some countries, particularly industrialized ones, have a traditional preference for full-time law programs, while in developing countries, students often work full- or part-time to pay the tuition and fees of their part-time law programs.

Law schools in developing countries share several common problems, such as an overreliance on practicing judges and lawyers who treat teaching as a part-time hobby (and a concomitant scarcity of full-time law professors); incompetent faculty with questionable credentials; and textbooks that lag behind the current state of the law by two or three decades.

Earning the right to practice law


Some jurisdictions grant a "diploma privilege
Diploma privilege
In the United States, the diploma privilege is a method for lawyers to be admitted to the bar without taking a bar examination. Once used by as many as 32 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Wisconsin is currently the only state that offers a broad diploma privilege for admission to its state...

" to certain institutions, so that merely earning a degree or credential from those institutions is the primary qualification for practicing law. Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 allows anyone with a law degree to practice law. However, in a large number of countries, a law student must pass a bar examination
Bar examination
A bar examination is an examination conducted at regular intervals to determine whether a candidate is qualified to practice law in a given jurisdiction.-Brazil:...

 (or a series of such examinations) before receiving a license to practice. In a handful of U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s, one may become an attorney (a so-called country lawyer
Country Lawyer
In the United States, a country lawyer, or county-seat lawyer, is an attorney who has completed little or no formal legal training and has become a member of a county bar or a state bar after "reading law"; traditionally, these lawyers practiced general law in a rural setting, or on the frontier...

) by simply "reading law
Reading law
Reading law is the method by which persons in common law countries, particularly the United States, entered the legal profession before the advent of law schools. This usage specifically refers to a means of entering the profession . A small number of U.S...

" and passing the bar examination, without having to attend law school first (although very few people actually become lawyers that way). In other states, the bar examination can be very challenging, such as in California where only 42.3% of applicants passed the examination administered in February 2011.

Some countries require a formal apprenticeship with an experienced practitioner, while others do not. For example, a few jurisdictions still allow an apprenticeship in place of any kind of formal legal education (though the number of persons who actually become lawyers that way is increasingly rare).

Career structure



The career structure of lawyers varies widely from one country to the next.

Common law/civil law


In most common law countries, especially those with fused professions, lawyers have many options over the course of their careers. Besides private practice, they can become a prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

, government counsel, corporate in-house counsel, administrative law judge
Administrative law judge
An administrative law judge in the United States is an official who presides at an administrative trial-type hearing to resolve a dispute between a government agency and someone affected by a decision of that agency. The ALJ is usually the initial trier of fact and decision maker...

, judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

, arbitrator, law professor, or politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

. There are also many non-legal jobs which legal training is good preparation for, such as corporate executive, government administrator, investment banker, entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to...

, or journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

. In developing countries like India, a large majority of law students never actually practice, but simply use their law degree as a foundation for careers in other fields.

In most civil law countries, lawyers generally structure their legal education around their chosen specialty; the boundaries between different types of lawyers are carefully defined and hard to cross. After one earns a law degree, career mobility may be severely constrained. This is not the case in Germany, where all lawyers pass the same kind of training and examination which qualifies them to work in any legal profession, as judges, prosecutors, government officials or private law practitioners. Another interesting example is France, where for much of the 20th century, all judiciary officials were graduates of an elite professional school for judges. Although the French judiciary has begun experimenting with the Anglo-American model of appointing judges from accomplished advocates, the few advocates who have actually joined the bench this way are looked down upon by their colleagues who have taken the traditional route to judicial office.

In a few civil law countries, such as Sweden, the legal profession is not rigorously bifurcated and everyone within it can easily change roles and arenas.

Specialization


In many countries, lawyers are general practitioners who will take almost any kind of case that walks in the door. In others, there has been a tendency since the start of the 20th century for lawyers to specialize early in their careers. In countries where specialization is prevalent, many lawyers specialize in representing one side in one particular area of the law; thus, it is common in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to hear of plaintiffs' personal injury
Personal injury
Personal injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. The term is most commonly used to refer to a type of tort lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff's injury has been caused by the negligence of another, but also arises in defamation...

 attorneys.

Organization


Lawyers in private practice generally work in specialized business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

es known as law firm
Law firm
A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. The primary service rendered by a law firm is to advise clients about their legal rights and responsibilities, and to represent clients in civil or criminal cases, business transactions, and other...

s, with the exception of English barristers. The vast majority of law firms worldwide are small business
Small business
A small business is a business that is privately owned and operated, with a small number of employees and relatively low volume of sales. Small businesses are normally privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships...

es that range in size from 1 to 10 lawyers. The United States, with its large number of firms with more than 50 lawyers, is an exception. The United Kingdom and Australia are also exceptions, as the UK, Australia and the U.S. are now home to several firms with more than 1,000 lawyers after a wave of mergers in the late 1990s.

Notably, barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

s in England and Wales and some states in Australia do not work in "law firms". Those who offer their services to the general public—as opposed to those working "in house"—are required to be self-employed. Most work in groupings known as "sets" or "chambers", where some administrative and marketing costs are shared. An important effect of this different organizational structure is that there is no conflict of interest where barristers in the same chambers work for opposing sides in a case, and in some specialised chambers this is commonplace.

Mandatory licensing and membership in professional organizations


In some jurisdictions, either the judiciary or the Ministry of Justice directly supervises the admission, licensing, and regulation of lawyers.

Other jurisdictions, by statute, tradition, or court order, have granted such powers to a professional association which all lawyers must belong to. In the U.S., such associations are known as mandatory, integrated, or unified bar association
Bar association
A bar association is a professional body of lawyers. Some bar associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in their jurisdiction; others are professional organizations dedicated to serving their members; in many cases, they are both...

s. In the Commonwealth of Nations, similar organizations are known as Inns of Court
Inns of Court
The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. All such barristers must belong to one such association. They have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members. The Inns also provide libraries, dining facilities and professional...

, bar council
Bar council
A bar council , in a Commonwealth country and in the Republic of Ireland, the Bar Council of Ireland is a professional body that regulates the profession of barristers together with the King's Inns. Solicitors are generally regulated by the Law society....

s or law societies
Law society
A Law Society in current and former Commonwealth jurisdictions was historically an association of solicitors with a regulatory role that included the right to supervise the training, qualifications and conduct of lawyers/solicitors...

. In civil law countries, comparable organizations are known as Orders of Advocates, Chambers of Advocates, Colleges of Advocates, Faculties of Advocates, or similar names. Generally, a nonmember caught practicing law may be liable for the crime of unauthorized practice of law.

In common law countries with divided legal professions, barristers traditionally belong to the bar council (or an Inn of Court) and solicitors belong to the law society. In the English-speaking world, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers is the State Bar of California
State Bar of California
The State Bar of California is California's official bar association. It is responsible for managing the admission of lawyers to the practice of law, investigating complaints of professional misconduct, and prescribing appropriate discipline...

, with 200,000 members.

Some countries admit and regulate lawyers at the national level, so that a lawyer, once licensed, can argue cases in any court in the land. This is common in small countries like New Zealand, Japan, and Belgium. Others, especially those with federal governments, tend to regulate lawyers at the state or provincial level; this is the case in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland, to name a few. Brazil is the most well-known federal government that regulates lawyers at the national level.

Some countries, like Italy, regulate lawyers at the regional level, and a few, like Belgium, even regulate them at the local level (that is, they are licensed and regulated by the local equivalent of bar associations but can advocate in courts nationwide). In Germany, lawyers are admitted to regional bars and may appear for clients before all courts nationwide with the exception of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany
Federal Court of Justice of Germany
The Federal Court of Justice of Germany in Karlsruhe is the highest court in the system of ordinary jurisdiction in Germany. It is the supreme court in all matters of criminal and private law...

 (Bundesgerichtshof or BGH); oddly, securing admission to the BGH's bar limits a lawyer's practice solely to the supreme federal courts and the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
The Federal Constitutional Court is a special court established by the Grundgesetz, the German basic law...

.

Generally, geographic limitations can be troublesome for a lawyer who discovers that his client's cause requires him to litigate in a court beyond the normal geographic scope of his license. Although most courts have special pro hac vice
Pro hac vice
Pro hac vice , Latin: "for this occasion" or "for this event", is a legal term usually referring to a lawyer who has not been admitted to practice in a certain jurisdiction but has been allowed to participate in a particular case in that jurisdiction.The right to appear pro hac vice is not...

rules for such occasions, the lawyer will still have to deal with a different set of professional responsibility
Professional responsibility
Professional responsibility is the area of legal practice that encompasses the duties of attorneys to act in a professional manner, obey the law, avoid conflicts of interest, and put the interests of clients ahead of their own interests....

 rules, as well as the possibility of other differences in substantive and procedural law.

Some countries grant licenses to non-resident lawyers, who may then appear regularly on behalf of foreign clients. Others require all lawyers to live in the jurisdiction or to even hold national citizenship as a prerequisite for receiving a license to practice. But the trend in industrialized countries since the 1970s has been to abolish citizenship and residency restrictions. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 struck down a citizenship requirement on equality rights grounds in 1989, and similarly, American citizenship and residency requirements were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 and 1985, respectively. The European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

 made similar decisions in 1974 and 1977 striking down citizenship restrictions in Belgium and France.

Who regulates lawyers


A key difference among countries is whether lawyers should be regulated solely by an independent judiciary and its subordinate institutions (a self-regulating legal profession), or whether lawyers should be subject to supervision by the Ministry of Justice in the executive branch.

In most civil law countries, the government has traditionally exercised tight control over the legal profession in order to ensure a steady supply of loyal judges and bureaucrats. That is, lawyers were expected first and foremost to serve the state, and the availability of counsel for private litigants was an afterthought. Even in civil law countries like Norway which have partially self-regulating professions, the Ministry of Justice is the sole issuer of licenses, and makes its own independent re-evaluation of a lawyer's fitness to practice after a lawyer has been expelled from the Advocates' Association. Brazil is an unusual exception in that its national Order of Advocates has become a fully self-regulating institution (with direct control over licensing) and has successfully resisted government attempts to place it under the control of the Ministry of Labor.

Of all the civil law countries, Communist countries historically went the farthest towards total state control, with all Communist lawyers forced to practice in collectives by the mid-1950s. China is a prime example: technically, the People's Republic of China did not have lawyers, and instead had only poorly-trained, state-employed "legal workers," prior to the enactment of a comprehensive reform package in 1996 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

In contrast, common law lawyers have traditionally regulated themselves through institutions where the influence of non-lawyers, if any, was weak and indirect (despite nominal state control). Such institutions have been traditionally dominated by private practitioners who opposed strong state control of the profession on the grounds that it would endanger the ability of lawyers to zealously and competently advocate their clients' causes in the adversarial system
Adversarial system
The adversarial system is a legal system where two advocates represent their parties' positions before an impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, who attempt to determine the truth of the case...

 of justice.

However, the concept of the self-regulating profession has been criticized as a sham which serves to legitimize the professional monopoly while protecting the profession from public scrutiny. Disciplinary mechanisms have been astonishingly ineffective, and penalties have been light or nonexistent.

Voluntary associations of lawyers


Lawyers are always free to form voluntary associations of their own, apart from any licensing or mandatory membership that may be required by the laws of their jurisdiction. Like their mandatory counterparts, such organizations may exist at all geographic levels. In American English, such associations are known as voluntary bar associations. The largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the English-speaking world is the American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

.

In some countries, like France and Italy, lawyers have also formed trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s.

Cultural perception of lawyers


Hostility towards the legal profession is a widespread phenomenon. The legal profession was abolished in Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 in 1780 and in France in 1789, though both countries eventually realized that their judicial systems could not function efficiently without lawyers. Complaints about too many lawyers were common in both England and the United States in the 1840s, Germany in the 1910s, and in Australia, Canada, the United States, and Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 in the 1980s.

Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

. In the aftermath of Watergate, legal self-help books became popular among those who wished to solve their legal problems without having to deal with lawyers. Lawyer jokes (already a perennial favorite) also soared in popularity in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

-speaking North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 as a result of Watergate. In 1989, American legal self-help publisher Nolo Press published a 171-page compilation of negative anecdotes about lawyers from throughout human history.

In Adventures in Law and Justice (2003), legal researcher Bryan Horrigan
Bryan Horrigan
Bryan Horrigan is an Australian researcher, consultant, commentator and professional speaker on specialised legal, business, and governmental topics. He is The recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, Horrigan earned a D. Phil. in Law from University College, Oxford then became a professor at...

 dedicated a chapter to "Myths, Fictions, and Realities" about law and illustrated the perennial criticism of lawyers as "amoral [...] guns for hire" with a quote from Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist...

's satirical The Devil's Dictionary
The Devil's Dictionary
The Devil's Dictionary is a satirical "reference" book written by Ambrose Bierce. The book offers reinterpretations of terms in the English language, lampooning cant and political doublespeak, as well as other aspects of human foolishness and frailty. It was originally published in 1906 as The...

(1911) that summarized the noun as: "LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law."

More generally, in Legal Ethics: A Comparative Study (2004), law professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.
Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.
Geoffrey Cornell Hazard, Jr. is Trustee Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Thomas E. Miller Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. He is also Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law...

 with Angelo Dondi briefly examined the "regulations attempting to suppress lawyer misconduct" and noted that their similarity around the world was paralleled by a "remarkable consistency" in certain "persistant [sic?] grievances" about lawyers that transcends both time and locale, from the Bible to medieval England to dynastic China. The authors then generalized these common complaints about lawyers as being classified into five "general categories" as follows:


Compensation


Lawyers are paid for their work in a variety of ways. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure, a contingency fee (usually in cases involving personal injury
Personal injury
Personal injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. The term is most commonly used to refer to a type of tort lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff's injury has been caused by the negligence of another, but also arises in defamation...

), or a lump sum payment if the matter is straightforward. Normally, most lawyers negotiate a written fee agreement up front and may require a non-refundable retainer
Advance payment
An advance payment, or simply an advance, is the part of a contractually due sum that is paid in advance for goods or services, while the balance included in the invoice will only follow the delivery. It is called a prepaid expense in accrual accounting.-See also:*Advance against royalties*Pay or...

 in advance. In many countries there are fee-shifting arrangements by which the loser must pay the winner's fees and costs; the United States is the major exception, although in turn, its legislators have carved out many exceptions to the so-called "American Rule" of no fee shifting.

Lawyers working directly on the payroll of governments, nonprofits, and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary. In many countries, with the notable exception of Germany, lawyers can also volunteer their labor in the service of worthy causes through an arrangement called pro bono (short for pro bono publico, "for the common good"). Traditionally such work was performed on behalf of the poor, but in some countries it has now expanded to many other causes such as the environment
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

.

In some countries, there are legal aid
Legal aid
Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.A number of...

 lawyers who specialize in providing legal services to the indigent. France and Spain even have formal fee structures by which lawyers are compensated by the government for legal aid cases on a per-case basis. A similar system, though not as extensive or generous, operates in Australia, Canada, as well as South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

.

In other countries, legal aid specialists are practically nonexistent. This may be because non-lawyers are allowed to provide such services; in both Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, trade unions and political parties provide what can be characterized as legal aid services. Some legal aid in Belgium is also provided by young lawyer apprentices subsidized by local bar associations (known as the pro deo system), as well as consumer protection nonprofit organizations and Public Assistance Agencies subsidized by local governments. In Germany, mandatory fee structures have enabled widespread implementation of affordable legal expense insurance.

History




Ancient Greece


The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 (see History of Athens
History of Athens
Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years. Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BCE and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BCE laid the foundations...

). However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed by the increasing tendency of individuals to ask a "friend" for assistance. However, around the middle of the fourth century, the Athenians disposed of the perfunctory request for a friend. Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Athenian orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the cause of another. This law was widely disregarded in practice, but was never abolished, which meant that orators could never present themselves as legal professionals or experts. They had to uphold the legal fiction
Legal fiction
A legal fiction is a fact assumed or created by courts which is then used in order to apply a legal rule which was not necessarily designed to be used in that way...

 that they were merely an ordinary citizen generously helping out a friend for free, and thus they could never organize into a real profession—with professional associations and titles and all the other pomp and circumstance—like their modern counterparts. Therefore, if one narrows the definition to those men who could practice the legal profession openly and legally, then the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

.

Early Ancient Rome


A law enacted in 204 BC barred Roman advocates from taking fees, but the law was widely ignored. The ban on fees was abolished by Emperor Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

, who legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed the Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly—but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces
Sestertius
The sestertius, or sesterce, was an ancient Roman coin. During the Roman Republic it was a small, silver coin issued only on rare occasions...

. This was apparently not much money; the Satires of Juvenal complain that there was no money in working as an advocate.

Like their Greek contemporaries, early Roman advocates were trained in rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, not law, and the judges before whom they argued were also not law-trained. But very early on, unlike Athens, Rome developed a class of specialists who were learned in the law, known as jurisconsults (iuris consulti). Jurisconsults were wealthy amateurs who dabbled in law as an intellectual hobby; they did not make their primary living from it. They gave legal opinions (responsa) on legal issues to all comers (a practice known as publice respondere). Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with an advisory panel of jurisconsults before rendering a decision, and advocates and ordinary people also went to jurisconsults for legal opinions. Thus, the Romans were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems, and this is why their law became so "precise, detailed, and technical."

Late Ancient Rome


During the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 and the early Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, jurisconsults and advocates were unregulated, since the former were amateurs and the latter were technically illegal. Any citizen could call himself an advocate or a legal expert, though whether people believed him would depend upon his personal reputation. This changed once Claudius legalized the legal profession. By the start of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, the legal profession had become well-established, heavily regulated, and highly stratified. The centralization and bureaucratization of the profession was apparently gradual at first, but accelerated during the reign of Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

. At the same time, the jurisconsults went into decline during the imperial period.

In the words of Fritz Schulz, "by the fourth century things had changed in the eastern Empire: advocates now were really lawyers." For example, by the fourth century, advocates had to be enrolled on the bar of a court to argue before it, they could only be attached to one court at a time, and there were restrictions (which came and went depending upon who was emperor) on how many advocates could be enrolled at a particular court. By the 380s, advocates were studying law in addition to rhetoric (thus reducing the need for a separate class of jurisconsults); in 460, Emperor Leo imposed a requirement that new advocates seeking admission had to produce testimonials from their teachers; and by the sixth century, a regular course of legal study lasting about four years was required for admission. Claudius's fee ceiling lasted all the way into the Byzantine period, though by then it was measured at 100 solidi
Solidus (coin)
The solidus was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans, and a weight measure for gold more generally, corresponding to 4.5 grams.-Roman and Byzantine coinage:...

. Of course, it was widely evaded, either through demands for maintenance and expenses or a sub rosa barter transaction. The latter was cause for disbarment.

The notaries (tabelliones) appeared in the late Roman Empire. Like their modern-day descendants, the civil law notaries, they were responsible for drafting wills, conveyances, and contracts. They were ubiquitous and most villages had one. In Roman times, notaries were widely considered to be inferior to advocates and jurisconsults. Roman notaries were not law-trained; they were barely literate hacks who wrapped the simplest transactions in mountains of legal jargon, since they were paid by the line.

Middle Ages


After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the onset of the Early Middle Ages, the legal profession of Western Europe collapsed. As James Brundage has explained: "[by 1140], no one in Western Europe could properly be described as a professional lawyer or a professional canonist in anything like the modern sense of the term 'professional.' " However, from 1150 onward, a small but increasing number of men became experts in canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 but only in furtherance of other occupational goals, such as serving the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 as priests. From 1190 to 1230, however, there was a crucial shift in which some men began to practice canon law as a lifelong profession in itself.

The legal profession's return was marked by the renewed efforts of church and state to regulate it. In 1231 two French councils mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop's courts in their regions, and a similar oath was promulgated by the papal legate in London in 1237. During the same decade, Frederick II
Frederick III of Sicily
Frederick II was the regent and subsequently King of Sicily from 1295 until his death. He was the third son of Peter III of Aragon and served in the War of the Sicilian Vespers on behalf of his father and brothers, Alfonso and James...

, the emperor of the Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

, imposed a similar oath in his civil courts. By 1250 the nucleus of a new legal profession had clearly formed. The new trend towards professionalization culminated in a controversial proposal at the Second Council of Lyon
Second Council of Lyon
The Second Council of Lyon was the fourteenth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, convoked on 31 March 1272 and convened in Lyon, France, in 1274. Pope Gregory X presided over the council, called to act on a pledge by Byzantine emperor Michael VIII to reunite the Eastern church with the West...

 in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts should require an oath of admission. Although not adopted by the council, it was highly influential in many such courts throughout Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The civil courts in England also joined the trend towards professionalization; in 1275 a statute was enacted that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers guilty of deceit
Deception
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth . Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment...

, and in 1280 the mayor's court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including the administering of an oath.

Titles


Generally speaking, the modern practice is for lawyers to avoid use of any title, although formal practice varies across the world.

Historically lawyers in most European countries were addressed with the title of doctor, and countries outside of Europe have generally followed the practice of the European country which had policy influence through colonization. The first university degrees, starting with the law school of the University of Bologna
University of Bologna
The Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna is the oldest continually operating university in the world, the word 'universitas' being first used by this institution at its foundation. The true date of its founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088...

 (or glossators) in the 11th century, were all law degrees and doctorates. Degrees in other fields did not start until the 13th century, but the doctor continued to be the only degree offered at many of the old universities until the 20th century. Therefore, in many of the southern European countries, including Portugal and Italy, lawyers have traditionally been addressed as “doctor,” a practice which was transferred to many countries in South America and Macau
Macau
Macau , also spelled Macao , is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China...

. The term "doctor" has since fallen into disuse, although it is still a legal title in Italy and in use in many countries outside of Europe.

The title of doctor has never been used to address lawyers in England or other common law countries (with the exception of the United States). This is because until 1846 lawyers in England were not required to have a university degree and were trained by other attorneys by apprenticeship or in the Inns of Court. Since law degrees started to become a requirement for lawyers in England, the degree awarded has been the undergraduate LL.B. In South Africa holders of a law degree who have completed a year of pupillage
Pupillage
A pupillage, in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, is the barrister's equivalent of the training contract that a solicitor undertakes...

 and have been admitted to the bar may use the title "Advocate", abbreviated to "Adv" in written correspondence.

Even though most lawyers in the United States do not use any titles, the law degree in that country is the Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

, a professional doctorate degree, and some J.D. holders in the United States use the title of "Doctor" in professional and academic situations.

In countries where holders of the first law degree traditionally use the title of doctor (e.g. Peru, Brazil, Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy), J.D. holders who are attorneys will often use the title of doctor as well. It is common for English-language male lawyers to use the honorific suffix "Esq." (for "Esquire
Esquire
Esquire is a term of West European origin . Depending on the country, the term has different meanings...

"). In the United States the style is also used by female lawyers.

In many Asian countries, the proper title for a lawyer is simply, "lawyer", but holders of the Juris Doctor degree are also called "博士" (doctor).

See also


  • Advocate
    Advocate
    An advocate is a term for a professional lawyer used in several different legal systems. These include Scotland, South Africa, India, Scandinavian jurisdictions, Israel, and the British Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man...

  • Advokat
    Advokat
    Advokat is the title reserved exclusively for lawyers who are duly authorized to practice law in the Scandinavian countries - Denmark, Norway, Sweden and in the Baltic countries - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania....

  • Ambulance chaser (derogatory)
  • Attorney at law
    Attorney at law
    An attorney at law in the United States is a practitioner in a court of law who is legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. Alternative terms include counselor and lawyer...

  • Avocats Sans Frontières
    Avocats Sans Frontières
    Avocats Sans Frontières , also known as Advocaten Zonder Grenzen is an international non-governmental organization contributing to the creation of fair and equitable societies, in which the law and its institutions serve the most vulnerable groups and individuals...

  • Barrister
    Barrister
    A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

    , pupil barrister
    Pupillage
    A pupillage, in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, is the barrister's equivalent of the training contract that a solicitor undertakes...

  • Corporate lawyer
    Corporate lawyer
    A corporate lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in corporations law.As of 2004, there were 67,000 corporate lawyers in the United States, working on average for 50 hours per week, with a mean starting salary of USD64,000, rising to USD93,700 after 5 years and USD139,000 after 10–15 years.The...

  • Counsel
    Counsel
    A counsel or a counselor gives advice, more particularly in legal matters.-U.K. and Ireland:The legal system in England uses the term counsel as an approximate synonym for a barrister-at-law, and may apply it to mean either a single person who pleads a cause, or collectively, the body of barristers...

  • Court dress
    Court dress
    Court dress comprises the style of clothes prescribed for courts of law, and formerly for royal courts.- Where court dress is worn :Court dress is worn at hearings in open court in all Senior Courts of England and Wales and in county courts. However, court dress may be dispensed with at the option...


  • Fiduciary
  • Law broker
    Law broker
    In Australia and New Zealand, a law broker is a professional that assists individuals who are searching for a lawyer. A law broker will analyze an individual's case or legal issue and provide a customized referral to an appropriate lawyer. Some common factors that a law broker will consider are a...

  • Law firm
    Law firm
    A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. The primary service rendered by a law firm is to advise clients about their legal rights and responsibilities, and to represent clients in civil or criminal cases, business transactions, and other...

  • Legal Executive
    Legal Executive
    Legal executives are trained legal professionals in England & Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong who often specialise in a particular area of law. There is, however, no direct equivalent to a legal executive in Scotland...

  • Legalese
  • Licensed Conveyancer
    Licensed Conveyancer
    A Licensed Conveyancer is a specialist legal professional in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa who has been trained to deal with all aspects of property law.Typically, their tasks might include:...

  • List of jurists
  • Mountebank
  • Notary public
    Notary public
    A notary public in the common law world is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and foreign and international business...


  • Practice of law
    Practice of law
    In its most general sense, the practice of law involves giving legal advice to clients, drafting legal documents for clients, and representing clients in legal negotiations and court proceedings such as lawsuits, and is applied to the professional services of a lawyer or attorney at law, barrister,...

  • Privilege of the predecessors
  • Prosecutor
    Prosecutor
    The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

  • Public defender
    Public defender
    The term public defender is primarily used to refer to a criminal defense lawyer appointed to represent people charged with a crime but who cannot afford to hire an attorney in the United States and Brazil. The term is also applied to some ombudsman offices, for example in Jamaica, and is one way...

  • Rules lawyer
    Rules lawyer
    A rules lawyer is a participant in a rules-based environment who attempts to use the letter of the law without reference to the spirit, usually in order to gain an advantage within that environment. The term is commonly used in wargaming and role playing game communities, often pejoratively, as...

     (derogatory)
  • Scrivener
    Scrivener
    A scrivener was traditionally a person who could read and write. This usually indicated secretarial and administrative duties such as dictation and keeping business, judicial, and history records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities...

  • Shyster
    Shyster
    A shyster is a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, politics or business.-Etymology:The etymology of the word is not generally agreed upon...

     (derogatory)
  • Solicitor
    Solicitor
    Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

    , trainee solicitor
    Trainee solicitor
    In the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong and certain other English common law jurisdictions, a trainee solicitor is a prospective lawyer undergoing professional training at a law firm to qualify as a full-fledged solicitor...

  • St. Ivo of Kermartin (patron saint of lawyers)