Nowadays lawyers develop highly specialized practice areas. However, meeting the most widespread need for legal services requires the broad-based skill and knowledge of a general practitioner in solo or small firm practice. In Addition, these “neighbourhood lawyers” meet community needs by applying the skills most classically associated with the practice of law.
As a general practitioner, here are a few examples of work you are likely to encounter.
1. Drafting wills
2. Defending people accused of crimes
3. Handling family law matters
4. Incorporating a small business
5. Drafting a sales or real estate contract
General practitioners interact with clients face-to-face, offering a more individualized type of legal assistance. If you choose to become a general practice lawyer, your law school coursework will prepare you to deal with the law in ways that make a personal impact on your clients and their families. General practice training is also useful for law students unsure of where they want to practice. Lawyers prepared for general practice have a broad background that enables them to develop expertise during their careers.
What Does a General Practice Lawyer Do?
Instead of specializing in one or two areas of the law, general practice attorneys cover a wider range. Because their work spans multiple practice areas, they are knowledgeable about a wide array of legal matters. In addition, some of the most common cases handled by general practice attorneys involve:
- Traffic violations
- Wills and trusts
- Power of attorney
- Spousal support
- Personal injury
- Child custody
- Estate planning
- Minor crimes
This list is not all-inclusive and not every general practice attorney will have the experience needed to handle every case in these areas.
This type of lawyer is most frequently found in small communities or rural areas, where the options for legal assistance are limited. In these situations, the client may hire the attorney for any case that may arise. If the attorney lacks knowledge in a particular area of the law, he may confer with other lawyers to ensure the client is provided adequate representation.
Younger attorneys may also choose general practice because they are unable to decide what they want to specialize in. Therefore, this gives them a taste for the different areas of the law.
Who is a general practice attorney?
A general practice attorney or a general practice lawyer is a legal professional with the ability to handle a wide range of legal matters without necessarily being specialized in a specific area of the law.The term “general practice” is used to refer to general areas of the law as opposed to specialized areas of the law.
General practice lawyers are great to handle the routine and simpler types of cases.
Younger lawyers starting their practice will tend to start as general practice lawyers until they can find an area of the law that they will consider specializing in. Consequently, if a general practice lawyer is not specialized in an area of the law, it does not mean that the lawyer is not competent. Although, it just means that the attorney is not focused on only one area of the law. Specialization and competence are two different things. A general practice attorney is like a family doctor. Although a family doctor is not specialized in heart surgery, it does not mean that the family doctor is not competent. Therefore, the same is true for lawyers. Although a general practice lawyer does not handle tax laws, it does not mean that they are not competent in the areas of the law they handle.
When to hire a general practice attorney vs a specialized attorney
You want to hire a general practice attorney when you have a common and routine legal matter to deal with. Let’s take an example of a business and see when they should hire a general practice attorney versus a specialized attorney.
“Run your business” type of case
You can consider hiring a general practice attorney to help you “run your business”. This means that you can hire a general practice attorney to give you legal support with different types of legal issues commonly faced by a small or medium organization. A company may need legal support on the negotiation of a commercial contract, renew a lease, handle an employee complaint or manage the company records. These are daily, ongoing and routine legal activities needed by a company.
“Bet your business” type of case
On the other hand, you want to hire a specialized attorney when you are “betting your company”. Betting your company means that your company is faced with a critical or very risky legal issue that requires specialized and tactical legal support.