Most people require legal counsel on an infrequent basis and do not have a ready lawyer on retainer. So when the need for legal counsel arises, they typically do not have experience in selecting an appropriate lawyer for their legal situation. Some people choose a general practitioner, who is usually a lower cost option. These types of lawyers concurrently handle multiple aspects of law such as business, family, real estate, estate planning, landlord/tenant, etc. While choosing a general practitioner may work for some types of simple cases, other more complex matters require a lawyer who specializes in one particular area of law.
Attorney Jennifer Abrams, a 20-year divorce law veteran in Las Vegas Nevada, states that a general practitioner might be adequate for uncomplicated legal matters. For example, if you need a will drafted and you are leaving everything to your spouse, most general practitioners are capable of providing satisfactory legal services. The same goes for a variety of other legal issues such as forming a one-owner business, low-asset personal bankruptcy, small debt settlements, divorce of a short-term marriage with no assets/debts or children, small claims disputes, minor criminal misdemeanors, and traffic tickets. Even though these are typically straightforward legal matters, Jennifer Abrams always recommends that the client pay close attention and make sure that they understand what their lawyer is doing and why.
Conversely, when a client has a need for a lawyer in a matter where the stakes are high, a specialist attorney is a far better choice. Risk usually comes in two forms: Financial or personal. Examples of cases where there is substantial risk include: High net worth and/or contested divorce, child custody, complicated estate planning, multi-shareholder business formations, serious personal injury, wrongful death, and felony criminal charges.
In these instances, the risk is considerable and individuals or businesses need lawyers who have in-depth knowledge and experience in a specific area of the law. Most times, the advice and strategies of specialized attorneys are the best choice to accomplish the goals of the client. Not surprisingly, lawyers who focus on one specialty area of law are often more expensive than general practitioners but in the end, the overall cost is likely less.
What is a Board Certified Specialist?
A Board Certified Specialist is an attorney who is recognized by their state bar as an expert in their field. While these lawyers may be trained to handle many legal matters, their major focus is one particular area of law. Typically, these lawyers have decades of experience in one practice area and have represented hundreds or even thousands of clients in that area of the law. By hiring a specialized lawyer, clients feel more confident that their legal problems are being handled by an attorney with extensive experience and training and knowledge in the field with which they require help.
Board certified specialists are not exclusive to the United States. Specialized lawyers are very common in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, where only certain types of lawyers can represent clients in certain matters. This helps to eliminate confusion on legal matters by allowing individuals to hire a specific type of lawyer who has extensive experience with their case type.
What Are Some Common Legal Specializations?
There are several areas of law where clients can find specialized lawyers. These include, but are not limited to, criminal defense, bankruptcy, immigration, divorce and family law, personal injury, and estate planning.
Each state bar determines what areas of law are eligible for board certification and the process for a lawyer to become board certified. Prospective clients should access their local state bar website to find out what types of specialist attorneys are available to them. The State Bar of Nevada has a rigorous board certification process for family law attorneys. It includes years of dedicated family law practice and numerous trial litigations. The certification candidate must also provide references from Clark County family court judges and their attorney colleagues who already board certified. There is also a complex examination process that each attorney candidate must pass. Given the difficult process, it’s understandable why less than one percent of all Nevada licensed attorneys are board certified.
There are also many sub-fields within each area that require specific training to provide adequate legal representation. Las Vegas divorce attorney Jennifer Abrams believes, by virtue of her two decades of matrimonial law experience, that a Certified Family Law Specialist is the best choice to handle contested divorce and child custody matters, and most prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
The Benefits of Hiring a Specialized Lawyer
When you decide to hire a specialized lawyer, the benefits are numerous. First of all, it helps to ensure that your specific legal matter will be handled by a lawyer who has years of experience with legal issues similar to yours. This type of attorney knows their way around the court system and can recognize issues in your case that might not be apparent to a lawyer with less specialized credentials.
Jennifer Abrams knows that specialist lawyers are a must for clients with considerable personal and financial stakes at risk in their legal matter. Since these lawyers have extensive knowledge about statutory and case law regarding your case type, they can deliver more accurate advice and are the attorneys most likely to achieve your goals.
Whether your case involves risks to your finances or personal freedoms, by choosing a specialized lawyer, you are protecting your rights to the fullest extent. When the stakes are high, you want an experienced lawyer who knows what they’re doing and can provide you with the best chance for a favorable outcome.
Generalist lawyers are great for low risk routine legal matters but a specialist is necessary for serious cases with high stakes. When it comes down to specialized lawyers vs. generalists, you want a specialist who has the skills and experience commensurate with what you have at stake in your case. The more experience an attorney has in the area of law at issue, the better they can represent you. Legal issues are complex and laws vary from state-to-state and country-to-country, so having a lawyer who specializes in your specific legal matter is the wisest decision you can make.