Practice areas of Law

Why do people want to become Lawyers? Why do you want to become a lawyer? Knowing the answer to this question is useful to aspiring lawyers as it will help decide which optional modules to choose in your law degree, or help decide which type of firm you want to work for.

This article will look at some areas of law which had interested me.


Criminal Law



The world is exposed to crime, and the legal involvement is often dramaticised on TV shows. That did not stop me from dreaming about being this bad-ass Lawyer taking down the evil guys. Criminal law is a very exciting area, and the nature of the work means you could be defending the accused in one case and persecuting the next. A common assumption is that all the work takes place in the Courts, however in cases like white collar crimes, gathering evidence before Court is the crucial and often the lengthiest part of the process.

This is a practice area where you can be working with murderers, rapists and high-profile criminals, so it takes a certain kind of personal skill to dissociate any emotions when working. Nonetheless, the outcome can be very rewarding.


Family Law


This area should only be embarked by those who have the skill to engage with people at a personal level. Family lawyers deal with legal issues to do with marriage, civil partnership, divorce, separation, children and custody. Clients are often at their most vulnerable period in their lives and it is very important for their lawyer to support and reassure them. As well as possessing compassion, these lawyers must also be practical and think logically in order to advise clients.

It would be quite a burden on me to go home knowing that my client lost the custody of their children. Once again, the skill to distance yourself from a case must be exercised here.

Family law is constantly changing, and these exciting changes are often made through case law which are presented by the family lawyers. To think that a social change or a new legal right was initiated by yourselves is a thrilling thought.


Human Rights Law


In school, I used to enjoy engaging in ethical debates. Of course, some I argued more passionately for than others, nonetheless a good lawyer should be able to argue both ways. Usually with reference to the Human Rights Act, the lawyer will challenge the government or authorities on behalf of their client. Human Rights lawyers are often involved in high profile and complex cases which attracts media attention due to its sensitivity.  

The following questions highlights some of the issues which are or have been raised in Court:

–          If one has the right to live, do they have the right to die?

–          Does right to life include an unborn child?

–          Can terrorist suspects be detained without a charge in order to protect national


–          What amounts to torture?

–          To what extent can a citizen exercise their freedom of speech and expression?

–          Can an employer prohibit their employee from practicing their faith at work?

–          When do journalists and paparazzi breach an individual’s right to a private life?

I found this module in my degree to be the most interesting and it amazed me how recent some of the changes made to our society are. This area, particularly at an international level is at the forefront of social change. These changes are driven by lawyers with a very strong interest in this field.


Corporate/Commercial Law


Some aspiring lawyers simply want to know where the money is at. Corporate lawyers serve as advisers for businesses. These lawyers (as displayed by Harvey Specter from Suits) need to possess inter-personal skills in order to create a strong relationships with their clients. They are trusted to handle important aspects of the business and its financial matters such as insolvency, debt, tax, buying & selling assets and litigation.

These types of clients will often require their trusted lawyers to deal with matters, which may involve large amounts of money. Some of these private clients often have a lot of money and so they pay their lawyers quite well.

Corporate and commercial law is a competitive area of law. To put things into perspective, if you were a client with money, you would hire the best. Therefore it is quite important for corporate and commercial lawyers to stay on top of things. Read the news, and by the news I mean the Financial Times! Knowing what is going on around you is the best way to succeed. The best lawyers are able to identify trends and advise their clients of market changes.  The best lawyers also understands what their client and their businesses need.

For those looking into becoming a corporate lawyer, I think it is important to have an interest and an understanding of how businesses work. This starting point will help you develop your existing knowledge as you should then start familiarising yourself with business news and matters. I am now in the habit of reading business related news every morning and it has significantly improved my knowledge.


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