What is a Lawyer?
Simply put, a lawyer is a person who is qualified to provide legal advice and guidance to clients and to represent them in legal matters. In England and Wales an individual undergoes a great deal of training before being able to practice law. A person must satisfy rigorous academic and practical criteria, which are set by organisations such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board. The standard required is at a high level and requires a great deal of commitment and dedication.
Lawyers usually specialise in specific legal areas and this allows them to gain expertise in their chosen field. Examples of the specialist legal areas are: matrimony, contract, property, and of course, employment law. The law can be a very complex subject and focusing on a certain area allows a lawyer to provide the best advice for their client.
Why Should a Person Have a Lawyer?
The law is a very broad and technically complex field that requires a great deal of training in order to fully understand the many intricacies associated with it. Indeed, one of the reasons that people specialise in particular elements is because it would be impossible to be able to master all areas. Therefore, when a person encounters a situation that requires legal expertise, it is important that they speak to a professional who is qualified to help. There is an old proverb that says, a man who acts as his own lawyer ‘has a fool for a client’. And there is a lot of truth in this expression.
Some of a Lawyer’s Responsibilities
A lawyer must:
• Protect the client’s confidentiality
• Conduct the case in an orderly and timely manner
• Obey the law and adhere to the highest standards of professional ethics
• Follow their client’s instructions, unless these are illegal
• Ensure the client’s money and property is kept separately
• Avoid taking any action that would jeopardise their client’s interests, including taking on representation that would cause a conflict.
While there have been many famous lawyers on television, films and in books, some of their real life counterparts and the clients they have represented are even more fascinating. Examples include Fiona Shackleton, who is a leading divorce lawyer and represented Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills. Another example is Imran Khan, who represented Stephen Lawrence’s family, while Cherie Booth Q.C., wife of Tony Blair, has acted in a number of well-known employment and discrimination cases.