A lot of people live with the misconception that practising law only involves appearing in court and representing clients who have been accused of crimes. The fact is that the legal industry covers a wide range of topics and practice areas. While law schools don’t expect you to have decided the type of law you would like to practice before enrolling, it is a good idea to educate yourself about the many kinds of legal practice before you actually go into law school.
Here’s taking a look at the broader fields of law for law aspirants to consider when looking for their calling:
Criminal law covers cases of murder, rape, theft, etc. This area of the law entails either representing the accusers or the accused in court, which can include defending offenders or arguing on behalf of the innocent. Understanding court processes, police investigations, etc., are necessary components of criminal law. Be prepared to spend the majority of your time in court if you're pursuing a career in criminal law.
The creation, dissolution, and all other legal facets of the management of corporations, large and small, are within the purview of business law. A corporate lawyer can provide agreement advice, draft contracts, or negotiate terms on behalf of a client. Corporate lawyers could provide customers with legal counsel without ever having to leave their offices and go to court.
Real Estate and Property Law
Real estate is any immovable property of any kind, including buildings, land, and any natural resources found there, such as water, crops, minerals, or resources. Thus real estate lawyers deal with those with any stake or claim in said land, buildings, or residences in general. Although real estate lawyers may spend some time in court, they are more often focused on transactional business.
Laws pertaining to information technology, in particular, computers and the internet, are known as cyber laws or IT laws. These have also been referred to as "paper laws" for a "paperless world" and regulate issues of information security, electronic commerce, and the digital transmission of both information and software. The area is intrinsically linked to legal informatics. Lawyers working in this area often work with contract law, privacy, freedom of speech, and jurisdiction, as well as intellectual property in the digital sphere and as an extension, cyberspace.
Labour law deals with issues relating to employees, such as pay and benefits, harassment, or discrimination on the basis of age, gender, or disability. Labour law specifically looks into the interactions between employees and their employers. Labour lawyers could also find themselves involved in collective bargaining and associations on behalf of both employees or employers.
Immigration lawyers deal with matters of naturalisation, asylum or illegal immigration, among other things. Naturalisation refers to the legal procedure a person undergoes to acquire citizenship of a country that they are not a natural citizen of, for which they need legal counsel and intervention. Asylum is given to refugees, displaced people or populations escaping persecution, violence, war or conflict. This is also a legal procedure. People who are in a nation illegally are also dealt with under immigration laws. Immigration lawyers may work for the government, for non-profit organisations, or for private immigration law businesses.
Bankruptcy lawyers represent creditors or debtors, particularly those who are unable to repay ther debts. Bankruptcy lawyers support their clients in making informed decisions and chalking out a liquidation and repayment plan that works for them. This procedure entails representation during bankruptcy procedures and court hearings, document collecting and preparation, and a determination of the viability of assets to help pay off the debtor's outstanding sum. Bankruptcy lawyers could be representing individuals or corporates or companies in similar situations.
The area of law known as environmental law studies how people interact with and affect the environment. An environmental lawyer's duties include representing clients in cases involving air and water quality, mining, deforestation, pollution, and other areas of practice. Their clients could be individuals, large and small organisations, and more frequently, governments.
Human Rights Law
Lawyers that specialise in human rights represent those who have had their rights violated. Knowing the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, or the government in the country where they work is necessary for competent human rights advocacy. Human rights values are also reflected in India's procedural legislation, such as the Code of Criminal Procedure.
This list of legal career specialities is in no way exhaustive. There are of course other niche areas and fields. However, when students first go into the legal profession, it helps to have an understanding of the broad categories, so they can then determine, based on their areas of interest, what they would like to specialise and practice in.