Civil lawyers are a type of attorney that generally only handles civil law cases, as opposed to criminal cases. Civil cases are usually between individuals, companies, and institutions, while criminal cases generally involve government and law enforcement agencies building cases against individuals. There are a wide range of civil lawyers, including those who specialize in cases involving:
- Family disputes
- Domestic and international business law
- Personal injury and medical malpractice claims
- Insurance disputes
- Real estate law
All civil lawyers will have, at minimum, obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. It is also required to become a registered attorney in the state in which they practice by taking and passing a series of exams. Some civil attorneys undergo additional education or obtain degrees in their areas of specialty. For instance, a civil lawyer who primarily handles business cases may have an MBA in addition to her J.D.
Hiring a Civil Lawyer
Because they specialize in certain types of cases, whether one should consider hiring a civil lawyer depends upon the issue he faces. For example, if the case is a criminal offense such as theft, drug charges, forgery, or assault, it is best to seek a defense attorney rather than a civil one. It doesn’t matter whether the charge will result in a felony or misdemeanor, time in jail or not, civil lawyers don’t typically take criminal cases.
Examples of civil matters include cases concerning divorce, family law and child custody, personal injury, employment issues, and landlord or tenant disputes. If there is any chance that the matter can be resolved without going in front of a judge, civil lawyers will usually try to go that route as it is less expensive and takes less time to come to an agreement between both parties. In the event that a resolution outside of court is not possible, civil attorneys handle filing all paperwork, preparing their clients for their day in court, and conducting research into the matter to find as much information as possible and increase their chances of winning the case.