The first lawyers in history weren’t actually lawyers. In ancient Greece, the earliest attorneys were actually orators who became advocates for people. They most wrote speeches for litigants and occasionally stood up before juries as witnesses for them.
An attorney can sometimes have your case dismissed without even going to court. In fact, attorneys do not always have to go to court to have a case concluded. Transactional attorneys and others can make it so that your case never sees the light of day and you needn’t step into a courtroom.
An attorney cannot become an attorney unless he or she passes a strict code of ethics test. In fact, all lawyers must pass this Model Rules of Professional Conduct test, which means that attorneys are held to the highest possible standards and practices, ensuring you get proper representation and legal protection.
Attorneys cannot disclose the details of your case with anyone except you, even if you confess to a crime. This means that your attorney-client privilege is guaranteed and as such you can be as honest with your lawyer as possible. Such honesty will help your lawyer better represent you.
However, attorney privilege isn’t absolute. Although attorneys can’t tell anyone what you have told them in the vast majority of circumstances, there are a few very limited exceptions. If, for example, you tell an attorney about your intent to cause someone else immediate harm and your attorney believes you seriously intend to commit that harm, the attorney has an obligation to disclose what you are planning and try to stop you.
Most attorneys work on a “contingency” basis. What this means is that they do not get paid unless they win your case. This is a great benefit to you, as having a vested interest in your case, your attorney will work extra hard to win.
Attorneys are bound by something called fiduciary duty. This means that by law an attorney cannot allow his or her own personal interests, or the interests of a third party, to interfere with the representation of his or her client.
Attorneys cannot represent multiple clients whose interests are in conflict. Conflict of interest is taken very seriously in the legal world, which will only protect you in the long run. If another client seeks representation from your attorney and his or her interest could or would compromise the integrity of your case, your attorney will not represent them.
Most attorneys have their own special area of expertise. While there are general practice attorneys who specialize in multiple fields, for the most part, attorneys have one area that they are very good at. This means that if you are going through a divorce, retaining a family law attorney will ensure that you get the very best divorce representation possible.
Attorneys are considered officers of the court. When an attorney graduates from law school, he or she is not yet licensed to practice law. The attorney first must pass the bar exam and then be sworn in as an officer of the court to uphold the duties of that office.
According to the American Bar Association, there were 1,265,011 practicing attorneys in the U.S. in 2013. If you are going through a major transition like a divorce or find yourself facing a court case on the prosecution or defense side, hiring an attorney will make the process go much smoother and greatly increase your chances of the final court decision being in your favor.