The law is a complex multi-headed hydra. There are many specialist areas of law, and each area has a cadre of legal firms dedicated to its practice. This article is a very brief guide to the major kinds of legal specialization practiced in the United Kingdom.
Employment lawyers deal with worker and employer rights. These solicitors represent employees that have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against. They work in collaboration with trade unions and businesses to negotiate fair terms of employment. In the United Kingdom, employees have their rights codified in law. Employees are not allowed to be fired while on maternity leave, fired because they join a union, or fired because of their identity. Companies that break these laws are liable to be taken to court by unions or wronged employees and may be required to pay compensatory money out.
Corporate lawyers deal with the formation, governance, and regulation of commercial entities. Corporate law is extremely complex, which means that this kind of specialist solicitor is highly prized in business. The law treats a corporation as a legal ‘person’ that has the possibility of being sued or suing other corporations. It is considered distinct from its members and stockholders as an entity.
Corporate lawyers can help business leaders to organize or dissolve commercial entities. These specialist lawyers also help business leaders to formalize partnerships with other corporations and individual collaborators. They handle mergers and acquisitions – processes that usually involve the development of consolidatory financial agreements. They provide legal counsel about proposed transactions – making sure that a corporation is not liable to break the law during the completion of a plan.
Criminal law is an immensely broad field, and many law firms specialize in only one aspect of it. Each type of criminal offense is usually specialized in by one firm or another. Violent crime, sex offenses, theft, drug offenses: all the areas of crime under the sun attract specialist lawyers. In general, lawyers specialize in either defense or prosecution.
Defense legal teams work on countering the claims of prosecuting parties – aiming to get a fair and reasonable deal for their clients. This does not always mean that defense lawyers attempt to prove the innocence of their clients: instead, they work with clients to figure out the level of innocence that they can reasonably pursue in court.
Lawyers on the prosecution are responsible for proving that the case bought against a person or persons is provable beyond all reasonable doubt. They may use cross-examination, multiple witnesses, and a whole host of other tactics to support a case.
Media organizations and journalists are required to abide by several legal regulations in the course of their work. They are also protected in their freedom to report and criticize by law. Most large media organizations can expect to spend some time in court defending their actions or pursuing compensation. Specialist media lawyers deal with libel cases, talent contracting and defamation cases.
Copyright law is an important legal protection for the owners and inventors of concepts and designs. The World Intellectual property Organization claims that copyright protection is a fundamentally important feature of the modern state. Copyright lawyers take on cases related to intellectual property. If the owner of a copyright accuses another party of stealing their ideas, they may take them to court to establish that the copyright has been broken. Copyright lawyers work to get their clients a fair amount of compensation and legal protection from intellectual property theft.
Copyright law can become complex because there is no ‘register’ of copyrighted intellectual property: a citizen creates a copyright in theory when they produce an original work of some kind. Copyright usually lasts for a minimum of life plus 50 years.
Family law specialists deal with domestic issues. Cases taken on by family lawyers often involve fraught domestic partnerships – as well as the termination of these partnerships. Examples of cases worked on by family lawyers are:
Divorce and Annulment
The termination of legally binding partnerships. This often involves the drawing up of agreements regarding the splitting of possessions between former partners.
Custody and Visitation
The negotiation of legal rights concerning the ability of former partners to see and care for their children.
Providing legal counsel to men that want to prove their relationship with children. This can be a complex issue that morphs into a custody battle.
Complex cases that involve seeking justice for victims of domestic violence.