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The educational prerequisites for becoming a lawyer vary greatly from country to country. Nor is the LL. B the sole obstacle; it is often followed by a series of advanced examinations, apprenticeships, and additional coursework at special government institutes.
Most law schools are part of universities but a few are independent institutions. Many schools also offer post-doctoral law degrees such as the LL. Some countries require extensive clinical training in the form of apprenticeships or special clinical courses. In the United States, law schools maintain small class sizes, and as such, grant admissions on a more limited and competitive basis.
Admission to practice law Clara Shortridge Foltz , admitted to the California Bar by examination before attending law school. Some jurisdictions grant a " diploma privilege " to certain institutions, so that merely earning a degree or credential from those institutions is the primary qualification for practicing law. President Abraham Lincoln is a famous example of a lawyer who became a politician.
The career structure of lawyers varies widely from one country to the next. Besides private practice, they can become a prosecutor , government counsel, corporate in-house counsel, administrative law judge , judge , arbitrator , or law professor. Although the French judiciary has begun experimenting with the Anglo-American model of appointing judges from accomplished advocates, the few advocates who have actually joined the bench this way are looked down upon by their colleagues who have taken the traditional route to judicial office.
Specialization[ edit ] In many countries, lawyers are general practitioners who will take almost any kind of case that walks in the door.
Law firm Lawyers in private practice generally work in specialized businesses known as law firms ,  with the exception of English barristers. The vast majority of law firms worldwide are small businesses that range in size from 1 to 10 lawyers. Notably, barristers in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some states in Australia do not work in "law firms". Those who offer their services to members of the general public—as opposed to those working "in-house" — are required to be self-employed.
An important effect of this different organizational structure is that there is no conflict of interest where barristers in the same chambers work for opposing sides in a case, and in some specialized chambers this is commonplace. Professional associations and regulation[ edit ] Stamp issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the American Bar Association. Mandatory licensing and membership in professional organizations[ edit ] In some jurisdictions, either the judiciary  or the Ministry of Justice  directly supervises the admission, licensing, and regulation of lawyers.
Other jurisdictions, by statute, tradition, or court order, have granted such powers to a professional association which all lawyers must belong to. In the Commonwealth of Nations, similar organizations are known as Inns of Court , bar councils or law societies. Generally, a nonmember caught practicing law may be liable for the crime of unauthorized practice of law.
In the English-speaking world, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers is the State Bar of California , with , members.
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Some countries admit and regulate lawyers at the national level, so that a lawyer, once licensed, can argue cases in any court in the land. This is common in small countries like New Zealand, Japan, and Belgium. Brazil is the most well-known federal government that regulates lawyers at the national level. Although most courts have special pro hac vice rules for such occasions, the lawyer will still have to deal with a different set of professional responsibility rules, as well as the possibility of other differences in substantive and procedural law.
Some countries grant licenses to non-resident lawyers, who may then appear regularly on behalf of foreign clients.
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Others require all lawyers to live in the jurisdiction or to even hold national citizenship as a prerequisite for receiving a license to practice. But the trend in industrialized countries since the s has been to abolish citizenship and residency restrictions. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a citizenship requirement on equality rights grounds in ,  and similarly, American citizenship and residency requirements were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.
Supreme Court in and , respectively. In most civil law countries, the government has traditionally exercised tight control over the legal profession in order to ensure a steady supply of loyal judges and bureaucrats. That is, lawyers were expected first and foremost to serve the state, and the availability of counsel for private litigants was an afterthought.
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Like their mandatory counterparts, such organizations may exist at all geographic levels. Cultural perception[ edit ] A British political cartoon showing a barrister and another man throwing black paint at a woman sitting at the feet of a statue representing Justice.
Hostility towards the legal profession is a widespread phenomenon. The legal profession was abolished in Prussia in and in France in , though both countries eventually realized that their judicial systems could not function efficiently without lawyers. Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal.
One skilled in circumvention of the law. A Comparative Study , law professor Geoffrey C. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure,  a contingency fee  usually in cases involving personal injury , or a lump sum payment if the matter is straightforward.
Normally, most lawyers negotiate a written fee agreement up front and may require a non-refundable retainer in advance. Recent studies suggest that when lawyers charge a fixed-fee rather than billing by the hour, they work less hard on behalf of clients and client get worse outcomes.
Lawyers working directly on the payroll of governments, nonprofits, and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary. In some countries, there are legal aid lawyers who specialize in providing legal services to the indigent. This may be because non-lawyers are allowed to provide such services; in both Italy and Belgium , trade unions and political parties provide what can be characterized as legal aid services.