What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need For My Legal Issue?

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When you have a legal or legal-related issue, you may not know what kind of lawyer to talk to, or whether to talk to a lawyer at all. Sometimes instead of (or in addition to) talking to a private lawyer, you should contact the government, such as the police or the district attorney (DA), or another type of professional, such as an accountant.

There are many different areas of law that a lawyer may focus on. Some lawyers handle only one specific type of law, while others may have a more general practice.

See our Guide to Getting Legal Help for more resources.

Here is who to contact for various types of issues:

Your situation

Who to talk to

Any of the following caused by another person or business (whether accidental/negligent or intentional): physical, mental, or emotional harm or injury; damage to property; invasion of privacy; harassment

These may involve criminal acts or civil law violations

Personal injury lawyer or civil litigation lawyer (for civil case); Public prosecutor/District Attorney (DA) (for criminal case)

Also see our Guide to Victims Rights

Harm caused by improper health care treatment Medical malpractice lawyer
Physical or economic harm caused by a product or business Consumer lawyer; Product liability lawyer; Environmental lawyer; Department of Consumer Affairs
Harm caused by working conditions Workers compensation lawyer
Violation of rights at work Employment lawyer; Employment discrimination lawyer; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Mistreatment by the police or government Civil rights lawyer; Constitutional rights lawyer; Department of Justice
Starting or maintaining a business Business lawyer or Corporate lawyer
Protecting creative work Intellectual property (IP) lawyer
Protecting inventions Patent lawyer
Marriage, divorce, child custody Family law lawyer; Divorce lawyer
Protecting and managing personal finances Trust and estate lawyer; Estate planning lawyer; Financial planning professional
Immigration or citizenship Immigration lawyer
Defense against criminal charges Criminal defense lawyer
Problems with your apartment or landlord (if you are a tenant); or with a tenant (if you are a landlord) Landlord-tenant lawyer; Real estate lawyer
Issues regarding a home or other property, including buying/selling, or liability issues Real estate lawyer
Problems with debt or need to collect a debt Debtor-creditor lawyer; Bankruptcy lawyer; Collections lawyer
Questions about taxes, problems with taxes Tax accountant/CPA; Tax lawyer
Help obtaining government benefits, such as disability payments, etc Disability lawyer; Government benefits lawyer

Further Resources

See our Guide to Getting Legal Help for more.

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