Lawyers

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Earnings

According to the U.S Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor statistics, the median income of all lawyers in 2004 was $94,930.  The income of a given lawyer varies a great deal depending on where the lawyer practices, the type of law s/he practices, the type of client s/he is representing, and the length of time a given lawyer has been in practice.

Summary

Defining what lawyers “do” is challenging.  The legal system of the United States, although an amalgamation of other systems, is unique, and lawyers interpret this unique system, applying the theory of law to the reality of our everyday lives. Contrary to the pop-image that many of us have, lawyers do not spend all, or even most of their time in court.  Successful lawyers use pre-existing data to support their arguments.  Therefore, a lawyer spends most of his/her time researching and studying previous legal decisions and arguments, in the hops of building a successful case.   
There are lawyers to interpret each of these laws.  A short list of the different types of attorneys follows:

Administrative Lawyers Typically review legal decisions. 
Civil Litigates deal with wrongdoing in contractual claims.
Constitutional Law involves individual rights violations, and questions regarding the rights of state vs. federal government.
Corporate/Commercial Law. Corporate law addresses contracts, liability, or intellectual property.
Criminal Law is divided into two segments, prosecution and defense.
Elder law. Elder attorneys frequently work on behalf of families who are interested in establishing wills, living wills,
Power of Attorney documents, Health Care Proxy documents, etc.  The number of elder attorneys is growing at an unprecedented rate due to a push towards Medicaid reform at the federal and state level.
Family Law revolves around family issues, such as adoption, divorce, and wills; numbers of elder attorneys are growing at an unprecedented rate due to a push towards Medicaid reform at the federal and state level.
Intellectual Property Law is the law of copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Intellectual property is growing along with the growth of the internet, due to copyright infringement disputes generated by software, music and video distribution portals.
International Law typically indicates working alongside international companies to make sure the legal system of each individual country participating in a given transaction is upheld. International lawyers also work on such high profile cases as human rights abuses, or interpreting previous international law charters.
Labor/Employment lawyers typically advise their employers on how to establish work environments or work
contracts. A labor lawyer usually advises workers or unions on how to pursue various goals: better contracts, labor code violations, workers compensation, etc.
Tax Law.  Tax Lawyers generally assist businesses with their taxes.  Tax lawyers also assist companies and individuals in finding tax loopholes.

Degrees that lead to a career in Law

To become a lawyer in the United States, a four year bachelor’s degree is needed, as well as three year legal degree.  Typically, admissions committees at law schools look for students that possess a thorough learning in a specific field, such as history, economics, government, philosophy, mathematics, science, literature or the classics, rather than a concentration in courses.

Career Outlook For Lawyers

Growth in the field is predicted due to a number of factors; Intellectual Property Law is projected to be among the fastest growing career fields for lawyers.  This is due in part to the increasing complexity of law that is resulting from things like copyright infringement in the music industry.  As technology advances, and more resources become available on the internet, intellectual property lawyers are struggling to create laws that adequately protect and represent all parties involved with intellectual property.
      Similarly, Elder Law is projected to be a growing career field for lawyers.  Due to a federal and state push toward Medicaid reform, more and more private industries like nursing homes need legal representation when addressing issues that Medicaid brings up: property seizure, homesteading, foreclosure, living wills, living trusts, etc.  As of February 2006, the federal government created a new law that effectively shrank the “look back period” for gifts of money or property.  In addition, the federal government left it up to each State to decide how to apply this new law to pre-existing gifts that fell within the previous “look back period”.  In summary, because of Medicaid reform, and the growing number of retirement-age “baby-boomers”, Elder Law promises to be a fast-growing and lucrative career path.

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