7 Common Types of Law

How many types of law are there? That depends on whom you ask. The Law School Admission Council recognizes 17 fields of law, for example. Other institutions divide legal disciplines into fewer, broader categories. Here is a brief overview of seven of the most common types of law being practiced in the United States.

Civil Rights Law

Practitioners of this type of law fight for balance between the wants of various government institutions and the needs of individual Americans. Cases that deal with discrimination and encroachment upon personal freedoms with regard to housing, education, employment, and expression commonly fall under civil rights law.  

Criminal Law

Criminal law pits prosecutors and district attorneys, who represent the state, against defense attorneys, who represent individuals who have been accused of breaking the law. Questions of how to punish and rehabilitate criminal offenders are part of this type of law as well.

Family Law

Family lawyers handle cases pertaining to marriage, divorce, civil unions, adoption, child welfare, and other domestic matters. Attorneys in this field tend to work in smaller firms than those who practice other types of law, such as corporate or criminal law.

Corporate Law

Corporate law firms help businesses maintain compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Attorneys in this discipline frequently assist with intellectual property portfolios, questions of liability, and a wide variety of contracts and other documents, such as those that accompany closings, dissolutions, mergers and acquisitions, SEC filings, and the formation of new companies. A corporate lawyer may be retained by a single company as its in-house counsel.

Immigration Law

Immigration lawyers help clients who have arrived in the United States and intend to stay both permanently and for only a short term, including refugees and those seeking asylum. Attorneys of this type practice not only in law firms but also on behalf of community organizations and business that employ immigrants.

Tax Law

Attorneys in this field are involved with financial transactions both domestically and globally, and some of their areas of focus include income and capital gains taxes, as well as tax evasion. Since tax codes are almost constantly changing, continuing education is critical in this specific discipline.

Constitutional Law

Predictably, attorneys who specialize in this type of law focus on interpreting and applying the United States Constitution. It’s their job to handle fundamental matters of American federal function such as due process, the separation of powers, equal protection, and checks and balances.

While these seven legal fields are some of the most recognized, they’re just the tip of the judicial iceberg when it comes to the types of law practiced nationwide. From animal rights to maritime law, there is a wealth of specialties from which a novice lawyer can choose.