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Lawyers (also called attorneys or counsel) serve as advocates for people and organizations. They represent clients both to the court and to opposing parties. Lawyers can represent clients in criminal cases, where a law has been broken, and in civil cases, in which one party is suing another.
First, a lawyer will advise you as to whether or not you actually need legal help. It’s not always obvious whether an issue is a legal matter or something that can be resolved without involving the court system. A lawyer will help you answer these initial questions.
Once you’ve decided to hire a lawyer, then they have the power to represent you to the court and to opposing parties. Your lawyer is your most important ally in any legal matter. They provide advice on how to proceed with your legal issue, and prepare important documents for you.
If your issue involves going to court, your lawyer will accompany you, and can speak for you. If your legal matter involves mediation or arbitration, your lawyer will negotiate with the opposing party on your behalf.
Many lawyers tend to focus only on one area, or several related areas of law. In your search for the right lawyer, you should look for a lawyer who understands and has experience in the specific area of law for your issue. For example, a divorce lawyer may not be able to help you if you are considering declaring bankruptcy for your business, but a bankruptcy lawyer who understands bankruptcy and business law would be a perfect match. Reputable lawyers will be upfront about their experience and specific focus, but it will save you some time by narrowing your search beforehand.
Avvo attorneys handle cases in over 120 practice areas, including divorce, criminal defense, and bankruptcy.