Column appeared in CCSS Sunburst June What Do Lawyers Do?

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1 Article brught t yu by the Administrative Office f the Califrnia Curts and Califrnia Cuncil fr the Scial Studies in partnership fr Civic Educatin What D Lawyers D? Just Cmment Clumn by Judge Curtis Karnw March 2012 In the United States, lawyers have usually graduated frm cllege and then gne t a three-year law schl befre they can becme lawyers. They have usually als passed a test called the bar exam, which tests their understanding abut the law. Finally, peple wh want t be lawyers must be mrally fit t be a lawyer: peple with past cnvictins fr crimes may nt be able t fulfill this requirement. If all these requirements are met, the prspective lawyer takes an ath and becmes, as we say, a member f the bar. That means the persn is a licensed lawyer, and is authrized t practice law. Only licensed lawyers can give legal advice, and act as lawyers in curt. (The ne exceptin is when a persn des nt have a lawyer, and represents himself. This is allwed.) It is a crime t practice law unless ne is actually a member f the bar, unless ne has actually been licensed. It s interesting t nte that judges are nt members f the bar s judges cannt give anyne legal advice! After ne has becme a lawyer, there is a wide variety f types f wrk they may d. Frm just watching televisin and mvies, we might think that all lawyers g t curt, and argue cases in frnt f judges and juries. This isn t true. Many lawyers wrk in ffices, meeting with clients, researching legal issues, and writing. Peple hire lawyers because they want t fllw the law, and because they want t avid getting sued in curt. They hire lawyers when, fr example, they are abut t enter a cntract and they want t make sure the cntract is enfrceable in curt. They hire lawyers t help them understand the legal requirements in dealing with a gvernmental agency, r hw t cmply with the many laws we have, such as thse that tell cmpanies hw t treat their emplyees, r envirnmental laws that regulate the srt f smke r liquids a cmpany can put int the air r nearby rivers. Lawyers usually wrk in ne f fur kinds f ffices. Sme lawyers are hired by a cmpany, and just wrk fr that ne client. They advise that ne client n varius issues, depending n what kind f business the client is invlved in. 1

2 Other lawyers wrk fr a gvernment, such as a city, r a state, r the federal gvernment. In criminal cases, they might be prsecutrs r defense attrneys. Many lawyers are in what we call private practice, where they have many different clients. In private practice, a lawyer might be the nly lawyer in her ffices, r she might have partners - a few, r hundreds f them, with ffices in ne lcatin r perhaps in many ffices arund the wrld. Other lawyers wrk fr rganizatins that are devted t a certain kind f service, such as clinics that ffer free r lw rate services t the pr, r t tenants abut t be evicted frm their apartments, and s n. Any f these lawyers may have a wide variety f specialties. Sme f them might g t curt, many will nt. Here s an utline f the sme f the areas in which lawyers develp expertise (many lawyers have mre than ne area f expertise). Antitrust Law. There are laws that regulate fair cmpetitin, fr example, laws that prhibit cmpanies frm making secret agreements t fix prices. Cmpanies hurt by anticmpetitive behavir can sue thse wh engage in it. Lawyers tell clients hw t avid breaking these laws. Business Law. Cmpanies make agreements all the time, and they need lawyers t draft and negtiate these agreements, and lawyers t sue when the agreements are brken. Criminal Law. Peple wh are charged with crimes ( defendants ) need lawyers t defend them, and the gvernment needs lawyers t handle the prsecutins against the defendants. Dispute Reslutin. Sme lawyers specialize in ut f curt dispute reslutin. They act as mediatrs, trying t get peple t agree n a slutin, r they are arbitratrs, wh are essentially private judges wh decide cases, hlding their hearings in ffices instead f the curthuse. Envirnment and Energy Law. These lawyers handle cntracts and disagreements in the cal, natural gas, and il industries, and wrk with (and smetimes against) gvernmental regulatrs. Family Law. In this area lawyers help families that are ging thrugh divrces. These lawyers try t negtiate issues (r argue n the issues in curt) abut dividing the family prperty and mney, and respnsibilities fr children. Immigratin Law. Immigratin lawyers help peple wh are nt citizens f the United States in applying fr entry int the cuntry, the papers needed t stay in the cuntry legally. They als help peple becme citizens. Intellectual Prperty Law. Intellectual prperty includes patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and cpyrights. 2

3 Patent lawyers draft descriptins f inventins (perhaps a new kind f water pump, r engine, r ther useful prduct), and get the U.S. Patent Office in Washingtn DC t apprve the patent as smething which really is new. If s, then the patent hlder wns the inventin, and can get mney frm thers wh want t make the inventin (r the patent hlder can make the inventin herself, and stp thers frm ding s.) Trademarks are symbls, like the big yellw M arches fr McDnalds, r the Just D It tag line fr Nike shes, r the scripted wrds Cca- Cla fr that sda drink. The wners f trademarks can resister their marks with the gvernment. This prevents ther peple frm using the marks in a cnfusing way fr example, frm using the marks n fake prducts. Trade secrets are secrets abut hw t d smething, r secret ingredients, that give a cmpany an advantage ver ther cmpanies. An wner f a trade secret may be able t stp thers frm making it public. Cpyrights apply t things peple write, create, r design, such as sngs, pems, nvels, vide games, plays, mvies, and ther art. Others usually cannt cpy these creatins withut permissin. Intellectual prperty lawyers help peple prtect their rights by filing the right kind f papers with the gvernment, and suing thers wh vilate the rights. Smetime these lawyers als specialize in an industry, such as music, r vide games, r ther cmputer sftware r hardware. Labr and Emplyment Law. These lawyers handle relatinships, agreements and disputes between emplyers and emplyees, and grups f emplyees knwn as unins which negtiate with crpratins fr pay, and ther aspects f their emplyment such as wrkplace health and safety and retirement prgrams. Real Estate Law. These lawyer spend their time n the purchase and sale f land and buildings. They wrk fr the variety f peple and cmpanies invlved, such as sellers and buyers, and the banks that lan mney t allw peple t buy prperty. Trust and Estate Law. These lawyers help peple make wills, and they als draft dcuments t create trusts which are legal entities that can wn prperty. These lawyers als litigate in curt related t prblems that arise under the wrding f wills and trusts. Tax Law. Tax lawyers help peple with their taxes, and design legal ways t minimize taxes. Smetimes they handle lawsuits in which the gvernment wants mre taxes paid and the taxpayer denies that he wes any mre taxes. 3

4 Trt Law. Smetimes peple are injured n the jb, in car accidents, during a medical prcedure, r as the result f expsure t drugs, chemicals, asbests, r ther dangerus items. If s, they may hire a trt lawyer t take their case, t sue the peple respnsible fr the injury. These lawyers spend a lt f time in curt. This is just a small sampling f the types f wrk lawyers d. Lawyers are advcates, and they are expected t vigrusly prtect their clients, and t d whatever they legally can t help their clients. At the same time, all lawyers are fficers f the Curt, which means that, n matter what, they have t be hnest and frthcming with the judge, may never try t mislead the judge, and may never try t hide evidence when there is an bligatin t reveal it. Lawyers first and highest respnsibility is t the preservatin and integrity f the legal system. Key Vcabulary Wrd Bar exam Client Defendant Dispute Intellectual prperty Member f the bar Prsecutin Trt Meaning The bar exam is a test, usually taking tw r mre days t cmplete, abut legal principles and the laws f a state in the U.S. When it is taken and passed a persn wh wants t be an attrney in that sate may be granted a license t practice law. A client is a persn wh hires (retains) an attrney t represent him r her in any legal business; t assist, t cunsel, and t defend the individual in legal prceedings; and t appear n his r her behalf in curt. A defendant is the party (persn r grup) sued in a civil lawsuit r the party charged with a crime in a criminal case. A dispute is a cnflict r cntrversy ver claims r rights. There is a stated right, claim, r demand n ne side, met by an ppsing claim r statement f belief n the ther. Intellectual prperty describes a wide variety f prperty created by musicians, authrs, artists, and inventrs. A member f the bar means a persn is a licensed lawyer, and is authrized t practice law in that state r territry. In criminal law, the prsecutin is the gvernment attrney charging and trying the case against a persn accused f a crime. A trt is an act f wrng r failure t perfrm a legal r civil duty. 4

5 Online Lessns t Supprt What D Lawyers D? Elementary Schl Grades 3 and up Graffiti n Trial This unit fcuses n the third grade scial studies standards, which require students t understand the rle f rules and laws in ur daily lives and the basic structure f the U.S. gvernment, and invlves students in a simple mck trial with attrneys. Ging t Law Schl This excerpt frm the Peple v. A Wlf, is a shrt fcus activity that prvides students with sme backgrund n the rle f attrneys, the Cnstitutin, Bill f Rights and the jury..http://crf-usa.rg/cateach/elementary Middle Schl High Schl Giden v. Wainright a lessn frm Street Law abut a landmark case invlving the cnstitutinal right t cunsel; it includes an explratin f the rle f an attrney. Materials can be selected by studentsʼ reading level. Giden v. Wainright a lessn frm Street Law fcused n this landmark case abut the cnstitutinal right t cunsel, which includes a lessn n the rle f an attrney. Materials can be selected by studentsʼ reading level. Key Cnstitutinal Cncepts: The Right t Cunsel This lessn and vide set frm the Annenberg Classrm begins with students cnsidering the need fr an attrney in a criminal trial, fllwed by an examinatin f the rights cntained in the Sixth Amendment, and the Giden v. Wainright landmark case. Other Resurces icivics: Argument Wars, Pcket Law Firm and ther animated n-line games, engage students in fun and educatin games in which they are the attrney. These curricula d nt necessarily reflect the views f the Judicial Cuncil, the Administrative Office f the Curts (AOC), r the Curt Prgrams and Services Divisin/CPAS. Furthermre, the authrs, the Judicial Cuncil, the AOC, and the Curt Prgrams and Services Divisin/CPAS d nt prvide any warranties regarding the currency r accuracy f the infrmatin in these wrks. Users are reminded t check the subsequent histry f any case and changes t statutes and Rules f Curt cited in the wrks befre relying n them. These wrks are prvided fr the persnal nncmmercial use f teachers. 5

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