Almost everything we do—from making a purchase to driving a car to interacting with others—is affected by the law in some way. But clearly we don’t need a lawyer for all of these everyday interactions. So when do you need a lawyer? When can (or should) you handle a matter on your own? A lawyer (also called attorney, counsel, counselor, barrister, or solicitor) is a licensed professional who advises and represents others in legal matters. Lawyers must go through special schooling and licensing before being allowed to practice law.
Though often the butt of jokes, lawyers are an important and necessary part of civilized society. Modern societies are complex, and the ability of the common man to understand the nuances of the legal systems to which they give rise is limited. Without attorneys specializing in various parts of the law, your ability to assert your rights and defend yourself from wrongful accusations is limited to what little you may know personally about the workings of our nation’s laws. Your freedom depends in part on the existence of a class of individuals in our society who are charged with the responsibility of administering its rules. Lawyers act as professional mediators and negotiators, and use their knowledge of the legal system to ensure citizens are treated justly. Their successful arguments in court determine how laws will be enforced in the future, and how people will live their lives.