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The Many Roles of a Lawyer

Most people think of lawyers as the people who argue in court, wearing black robes and speaking in a deep, booming voice. While this is one role that lawyers play, it is the only one. Lawyers function in various industries and offer a vast array of services.

Lawyers can perform several tasks; while some are involved in the judicial system, others work outside it. No matter where they are employed, though, all lawyers have several skills in common. Here are some of the most common and important roles that lawyers play:

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These legal experts oversee court cases and direct evidence, testimony, and arguments in their respective jurisdictions. Lawyers who work in this capacity may preside over trials or hear appeals of lower court rulings.

A career as a judge requires years of education and experience and can be an overwhelming responsibility. Nonetheless, many lawyers decide to take on this challenge to influence the justice system.

Court Clerks

Lawyers in this role assist judges by ensuring that cases proceed according to schedule and ruling out inappropriate evidence before it is heard. They serve as legal advisers to their assigned judge but do not input any actual proceedings.


Lawyers who work as paralegals perform many of the same tasks that a lawyer does. Still, they usually do not have much authority over other members of that firm or the ability to represent clients in court. They spend a substantial amount of their time conducting research and collecting evidence in preparation for a case.

Private Investigators and Process Servers

These lawyers work independently, investigating crimes and gathering evidence for use in court cases. They may also deliver subpoenas and summons to defendants and witnesses, ensuring that the right people will be present in court on the appointed date.

Civil and Criminal Attorneys

Lawyers who work in law’s civil and criminal areas specialize in their fields. Criminal law often involves representing defendants in cases ranging from misdemeanor infractions to high-profile murder trials. Civil lawyers offer services such as drafting contracts, handling business disputes, or helping with other issues like divorce and child custody.

Lawyers often specialize in one of these areas but can work in either if needed. The choice to do so depends on the lawyer’s experience, interests, and desired career path.

Mediators and Arbitrators

These lawyers help resolve conflicts and disputes by using mediation and arbitration services in place of litigation. They do not make legal decisions; they work to find common ground between two or more parties, often leveraging their expertise in the law to guide them.

Arbitrators oversee each session and make any necessary rulings to end a conflict. You may call on them to hear the evidence and testimony for a case before rendering a decision. Mediators help people understand their rights by explaining laws and regulations but not representing either party in court.


Lawyers who work as lobbyists can influence legislators or other government officials regarding issues. They use their legal knowledge to write petitions and draft legislation that they then take to the appropriate officials to convince them of their position.

Government Attorneys

Lawyers who work for the government represent branches like the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, or local authorities. They often work in prosecution, defense, or appeals. Government attorneys ensure that the rights of their clients are upheld in court or when arguing legislation.

Lawyers will play any role needed to protect another person’s best interests. These roles do not fall into distinct categories unless they explicitly work for one agency. Still, lawyers can always expect to use reasoning, research, evidence-gathering, and analysis to reach their desired outcomes.


Lawyers who work as counselors do not need any formal legal training. They provide support, guidance, and advice to their clients by listening and asking questions to help them understand difficult situations they are facing or decisions they must make. Counselors cannot represent their clients in court but can offer insight into hiring a lawyer.

Notarial Services

In some jurisdictions, lawyers must be certified in notarial law to handle these functions competently. Notaries generally hold public office, so anyone can become one by applying for the position and having their qualifications approved. However, their role is limited to administering oaths, witnessing signatures, and verifying the authenticity of documents.

The various roles of lawyers are diverse and essential to the legal system. Through their work, they protect people’s rights and guide them through the legal processes that make up the infrastructure of society. So, next time you meet a lawyer, give them the respect and appreciation they deserve for their work.

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