What Does an Attorney Do?


An attorney, also called a lawyer, advises clients and represents them and their legal rights in both criminal and civil cases. This can begin with imparting advice, then proceed with preparing documents and pleadings, and sometimes, ultimately, appearing in court to advocate on behalf of clients. There were 792,500 attorneys employed in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Attorney Duties & Responsibilities

Attorneys' responsibilities can cover a wide range of duties, and they might vary somewhat depending upon the area of law in which they practice. Some common duties include:

Advise clients regarding ongoing litigation or explain legal issues they might be facing or have concerns about. Research the details and evidence involved in cases, such as police reports, accident reports, or pleadings previously filed in a case, as well as applicable law.

Interpret case law and decisions handed down by other applicable courts. This can involve analyzing the effects of a good many factors that might have been involved in other cases. Develop case strategies, such as trying to resolve cases early and cost-effectively for his clients rather than go to trial.

Prepare pleadings and other documents, such as contracts, deeds, and wills. Appear in court before a judge or jury to orally defend a client's rights and best interests. Attorneys can be general practitioners, or they might specialize in any one of a number of areas, such as criminal law, real estate, corporate issues, estate and probate matters, intellectual property, matrimonial and family law, or environmental law.


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