What does it mean when people say that legal services include "legal advice?" That depends on who you ask. In common usage, the word legal usually refers to a profession that consists of attorneys and other licensed professionals, while legal services may be used to describe a set of specialized skills and services provided by legal assistants, counselors, advocates, and other legal assistants and advisors.
One reason why the word legal has become less specific is that, historically, legal services were most often delivered primarily by licensed attorneys working in private firms. The phrase "an attorney's services" thus typically describes a wide variety of non-professional services provided by attorneys, including but not limited to: negotiation, settlement/settlement monitoring/monitoring, research, drafting, litigation support, and administration of legal processes.
The term legal services can also refer to a set of professional skills and knowledge that attorneys and other licensed professionals typically acquire over their course of study and practice. Many legal buyers think that legal services simply involve engaging in complex law practices, which is not true. A growing number of lawyers and other licensed professionals are offering a broad range of core legal services to a broad range of clientele.
These lawyers and other professionals may engage in a broad range of core legal services that include: estate planning, corporate planning, business planning, probate, personal injury, employment law, real estate law, family law, and criminal law. While it's important to note that these broad areas of practice do not all fall within the purview of a single legal buyer, they do often overlap significantly.
Primary goal of Legal Services
The primary goal of most legal services is the delivery of quality legal services to a number of different clients and audiences. For instance, an attorney's core responsibility may be delivering a settlement to a small business owner who was injured on the job. Likewise, the goal of a family law lawyer or a corporate business lawyer working on contract services is to ensure that a corporation's assets are acquired in a transaction that benefits that company's stockholders. Each of these cases involves a distinct set of legal services, with varying levels of importance and sophistication.
Public defenders and court-based legal support also provide a wide range of court-based legal services to individuals. Public defenders represent indigent defendants in matters of municipal, county, state, and federal jurisdiction. Court-based legal support is provided by lawyers who work at the federal and state courts and are appointed by circuit courts, district courts, and probate courts. In addition, there are private lawyers who offer these types of legal services to a much smaller segment of the population.
There are also a variety of different kinds of attorneys. Some attorneys are considering litigation attorneys, while others specialize in the type of legal services they offer. The litigation attorney, also referred to as a trial lawyer, specializes in cases such as lawsuits, petitions for mercy, and appeals. A petition for mercy is when an attorney petitions a court to be relieved of their jail term or to be given probation so they may better care for their clients. They also can assist clients who are mentally ill and are therefore not able to make decisions for themselves.
Another kind of lawyer is one who provides pro Bono litigation services. This simply means that they provide legal assistance to those who may not be able to afford to hire a lawyer. These are people who are homeless, disabled, or low-income and therefore do not have legal representation. Legal assistance from this type of lawyer is often times free, but more often than not a referral is needed.
Other types of legal service providers include paralegals, attorneys, patent attorneys, bankruptcy lawyers, and other legal service providers. Paralegals are typically involved in preparing documents, preparing court documents, performing research for law firms, interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents, writing opinions, assisting in negotiations, preparing arguments, assisting in trial preparation, and more.
An attorney can become quite busy with these legal services, while a paralegal will have little to no involvement with the actual work at hand. A bankruptcy lawyer will focus on preparing for court proceedings, whereas a paralegal will be involved with drafting documents, reviewing documents, researching facts, interviewing witnesses, and more. While both types of legal service providers can provide excellent legal advice to their clients, they specialize in different fields of the law and have therefore mastered a specific area of the law.
Law firms can also provide their clients with free legal services. In these cases, the law firm will represent a specific client on a contingency fee basis, after the lawyer has agreed to take on the case. contingency fees are payment methods in which the lawyer agrees to take on a specific case for a fixed amount and is paid only if the case is won. For example, if a lawyer is hired to represent a person who has been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, only if the lawyer wins the case, will he be paid anything else. Many law firms offer this type of payment plan to clients who need legal services on a contingency fee basis.