Throughout history, societies have established systems of law to govern people. Without laws, there would be chaos, and the rights of individuals would not be protected. The legal industry has come a long way since the time of ancient Greece and Rome, where young boys learned by apprenticeship the many skills involved in pleading a law case. Today, lawyers need a great deal of training and extensive knowledge of legal matters in order to practice law.
The legal profession is a large and profitable industry that is an integral part of our daily lives. Lawyers provide legal advice and representation to those who have been harmed by defective products, fraud, or unfair employment practices; those who want to buy or sell a house, start a business, or create a will; and those who have been accused of a crime—to name just a few services provided by lawyers. Attorneys also play key roles in the business world; in local, state, and federal court systems; in government agencies; and in nonprofit organizations. They provide legal advice and representation regarding hundreds of issues such as labor/employment, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, civil rights, national security, the environment, and bankruptcy.
Lawyers work in cities and towns throughout the United States and across the world, but you will find the highest numbers of lawyers in big cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago. Law firms range in size from a sole practitioner to 4,000-lawyer international practices.
Lawyers have a wide range of responsibilities, including providing legal advice, drafting legal documents such as contracts and wills, filing lawsuits and pleadings with courts, and arguing cases before judges and juries. Some attorneys work as generalists, while others work in specialized areas of law, including the following: