When you're searching for an attorney to handle a legal matter, it can be surprising to learn just how much specialization there is within the profession. The big divide is between those who handle civil and criminal matters, but even within those fields, there are still plenty of lawyers who deal with highly specific concerns. If you're seeking counsel, it's a good idea to know the major differences among attorneys.
Civil vs Criminal Law
When thinking about civil and criminal matters, the biggest distinction to understand is that a criminal case is one that could lead to a person losing their freedom. A civil matter is one that might lead a defendant to have to give up money or property to another person, organization, or business.
There are some cases where criminal matters lead to the forfeiture of property and money, but these tend to be cases where fines are paid or ill-gotten gains are given to the state or parties who were cheated out of them. In a civil case, property and money are transferred in order to even out a wrong, but not one that implies criminal wrongdoing.
Overlaps between civil and criminal matters do occur, but those overlaps are required to be sorted out separately. A case might lead to a murder trial (a criminal matter) and a wrongful death suit (a civil matter). Those concerns, however, would end up on separate dockets.
Specific Types of Lawyers
Within civil and criminal law, there are many degrees of specialization. In criminal law, a lot of attorneys do practice generally, but you'll also see plenty who specialize in cases involving drugs, white-collar crimes, charges brought against juveniles, or other distinct claims that can be leveled against a defendant. The DWI attorney, a lawyer who helps people accused of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is one of the most common specialists.
You'll see a lot more specialization in civil law, and there are often subsets even within each field. Even though product liability law is a subset of injury law, for example, you shouldn't assume a personal injury attorney will take on product liability claims.
When researching a practice, the important thing is to read about some of the matters they've handled. If you feel an attorney's background is a good match for your case, you can then schedule a consultation and discuss what happened.
Contact a law firm like Pollack & Zuckerman Attorneys at Law for more information.