Lawyers in the United States

The U.S. legal system uses the adversarial process. Lawyers are essential to this process.
Lawyers are responsible for presenting their clients’ evidence and legal arguments to the
court. Based on the lawyers’ presentations, a trial judge or jury determines the facts and
applies the law to reach a decision before judgment is entered.

Individuals are free to represent themselves in American courts, but lawyers are often
necessary to present cases effectively. An individual who cannot afford to hire a lawyer
may attempt to obtain one through a local legal aid society. Persons accused of crimes
who cannot afford a lawyer are represented by a court-appointed attorney or by federal or
state public defender offices.

American lawyers are licensed by the individual states in which they practice law. There
is no national authority that licenses lawyers. Most states require applicants to hold a law
degree (Juris Doctor) from an accredited law school. An American law degree is a postgraduate
degree awarded at the end of a three-year course of study. (Normally individuals
complete four years of college/university before attending law school). Also, most states
require that applicants for a license to practice law pass a written bar examination and
meet certain standards of character. Some states allow lawyers to become bar members
based on membership in another state’s bar. All states provide for out-of-state lawyers to
practice in the state in a particular case under certain conditions. Lawyers can engage in
any kind of practice. Although there is no formal distinction among types of legal practice,
there is much informal specialization.

Mobile Lawyers

Increasingly, it will more difficult to expect to find attorneys at their desks. A 2010 American Bar Association survey found that 71 percent of the respondents sometimes work from hotels (32% of the mobile lawyers), cafés (12% of the mobile lawyers), their homes (88% of the mobile lawyers), and even libraries. And when they toil away from the office, attorneys are doing more online legal research on their computers, laptops, or smartphones. Thirty-five percent regularly conduct research from home, and 5 percent say they sneak it in while traveling or commuting. But working remotely hasn’t replaced the office completely for most legal practitioners: Less than 1 percent said they never report in to the firm.

Source: “Mobile Lawyers” (Volume VI), 2010 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report

Books for those Considering Law as a Profession


? Bowen, Catherine. The Lion and the Throne: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Coke. Boston: Little, Brown,
1957. KD 621 .C6 B69
? Chestnut, J.L. Black in Selma: the Uncommon Life of J.L. Chestnut, Jr. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
1990. KF 373 .C389 A3 1990
? Cochran, Johnnie L., Journey to Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996. KF 373 .C63 A3 1996
? Douglas, William O. Nature’s Justice: Writings of William O. Douglas. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press,
2000. KF 8745 .D6 A43 2000
? Fine, Toni M. American Legal Systems: A Resource and Reference Guide. Cincinnati: Anderson Publishing,
1997. KF 240 .F56 1997
? Frankfurter, Felix. The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti : A Critical Analysis For Lawyers and Laymen. New York:
Universal Library, 1962. KF 224 .S2 F7
? Gaddis, William. A Frolic of His Own: A Novel. New York: Poseidon Press, 1994. PS 3557 .A28 F76 1994
? Grisham, John. The Chamber. New York: Doubleday, 1994. PS 3557 .R5355 C47 1994
? Grisham, John. The Firm. New York: Doubleday, 1991. PS 3557 .R5355 F57 1991
? Grisham, John. The Pelican Brief. New York: Dell, 1993. PS 3557 .R5355 P4 1992
? Gunther, Gerald. Learned Hand: The Man and the Judge. New York: Knopf, 1994. KF 373 .H29 G76 1994
? Harr, Jonathan. A Civil Action. New York: Random House, 1995. KF 228 .A7 H37 1995
? Herbert, A. P. Uncommon Law. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1936. KD 358 .H47 (7th ed. 1952)
? Kronman, Anthony T. The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession. Cambridge, MA: Belknap
? Press, 1993. KF 300 .K76 1993
? Lawrence, Jerome. Inherit the Wind. New York: Bantam Books, 1960. PS 3523 .A934 I6 1960
? Lawyers’ Ideals, Lawyers’ Practices: Transformations in the American Legal Profession. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
? University Press, 1992. KF 300 .L33 1992
? Lewis, Anthony. Gideon’s Trumpet. New York: Vintage Books, 1966. KF 228 .G53 L49 1989
? Linowitz, Sol M. The Betrayed Profession. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1994. KF 300 .L56 1994
? Llewellyn, Karl N. The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and its Study. New York: Oceana Publications, 1960. KF
272 .L538 1973
? Llewellyn, Karl N. The Cheyenne Way: Conflict and Case Law in Primitive Jurisprudence. Norman, OK: Univ. of
Oklahoma Press, 1941. E 99.C53 L55
? McNeil, Genna Rae. Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983. KF 373 .H644 M3 1983
? Noonan, John T. Persons and Masks of the Law: Cardozo, Holmes, Jefferson and Whyte as Makers of the
Masks. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976. KF 380 .N6
? Pollock, Ervin H. The Brandeis Reader: The Life and Contributions of Mr. Justice Louis B. Brandeis. New York:
Oceana, 1956. KF 8745 .B7 P6
? Posner, Richard A. Economic Analysis of Law. New York: Aspen Publishers, 2003. K 487 .E3 P67 2003
? Pound, Roscoe. Readings on the History and System of the Common Law. Rochester, NY: Lawyers
Cooperative Pub. Co., 1927. KD 671 .P69 1927
? Thomas, Evan. The Man to See: Edward Bennet Williams, Ultimate Insider, Legendary Trial Lawyer. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1991. KF 373 .W466 T46 1991
? Train, Arthur Cheney. Mr. Tutt at his best, a collection of his most famous cases. New York: Scribner, 1961. PS
3539 .R23 M5
? Train, Arthur Cheney. Yankee Lawyer: The Autobiography of Ephraim Tutt. Chicago: Consolidated Book
Publishers, 1944. KF 268 .T87 1944
? Traver, Robert. Anatomy of a Murder. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1958. PS 3543 .O4 A5 1958
? Traver, Robert. Laughing Whitefish. New York: McGraw Hill, 1965. PS 3570 .R339 L38
? Tushnet, Mark V. Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1994. KF 4755 .T87 1994
? Williams, Evelyn. Inadmissible Evidence: The Story of the African-American Trial Lawyer Who Defended the
Black Liberation Army. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1993. KF 373 .W468 A3 1993
? Bachman, Walt. Law v. Life: What Lawyers are Afraid to Say About the Legal Profession. Rhinebeck, NY: Four
Directions Press, 1995. KF 300 .Z9 B32 1995
? Barron’s Guide to Law Schools. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series. PURDY KF 266 .M86 1992
? Career Associates. Career Choices for Undergraduates Considering Law. New York: Walker, 1990. RESERVE
KF 297 .C33 1990
? Dworkin, Elizabeth. Becoming a Lawyer? a Humanistic Perspective on Legal Education and Professionalism. St.
Paul, MN: West Pub. Co., 1981. KF 272 .D8 1981
? Ehrlich Thomas, and Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. Going to Law School? Readings on a Legal Career. Boston: Little,
Brown, 1975. KF 297 .G64
? Bell Susan J., comp. Full Disclosure: Do You Really Want to Be a Lawyer? New York: Peterson’s Guides, 1992.
KF 300 .F85 1992
? Kahlenberg, Richard D. Broken Contract: A Memoir of Harvard Law School. New York: Hill & Wang, 1992. KF
373 .K34 A33 1992
? Marke, Julius J. Dean’s List of Recommended Reading for Prelaw and Law Students. New York: Oceana
Publications, 1984. KF 1 .M3 1984
? Moll, Richard. The Lure of the Law and the Life Thereafter. New York: Viking, 1990. KF 300 .Z9 M57 1990
? Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools. Newton, PA: Law School Admissions Council. RESERVE KF 283 .A86 1995
? Tough New World: Career Paths for Today’s Law Students. New York: American Lawyer Media, 1990. KF 300 .
Z9 T682 1990
? Turow, Scott. One L. New York: Putnam, 1977. K F 373 .T88 A33
? Warkov, Seymour. Lawyers in the Making. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co., 1965. KF 297 .W3


? Burkhart, Ann M. How to Study and Take Law Exams in a Nutshell. St. Paul, MN: West, 1996. KF 283 .B87
? Deaver, Jeff. The Complete Law School Companion: How to Excel at America’s Most Demanding PostGraduate
Curriculum. New York: Wiley, 1992. KF 283 .D4 19
? Fischl, R.M. Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press,
1999. RESERVE KF 283 .F47 1999.
? Hegland, Kenney F. Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell. St. Paul, MN: Thomson West,
2003. RESERVE KF 273 H4 2003
? Margulies, Sheldon. Learning Law. The Mastery of Legal Logic. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1993.
KF 273 .M37 1993
? Miller, Robert H. Law School Confidential: The Complete Law School Survival Guide: By Students for Students.
New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000. KF 283 .M55 2000
? Munneke, Gary A. How to Succeed in Law School. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1989. KF 283 .M86
? Noyes, S.C. Acing Your First Year of Law School: The Ten Steps to Success You Won’t Learn in Class.
Littleton, CO: Fred B. Rothman, 1999. KF 283 .N69 1999
? Nygren, Carolyn. Starting Off Right in Law School. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1997. KF 273 .N97
? Shapo, Helene S. Law School without Fear: Strategies for Success. Westbury, NY: Foundation Press, 1996. KF
386 .S44 1996


? Foonberg, Jay G. How to Get and Keep Good Clients. 2nd ed. Boston: Lawyers Alert Press, 1990. KF 316.5 .
F66 1990
? Foonberg, Jay G. How to Start and Build a Law Practice. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association Press,
1991. RESERVE KF 300 .Z9 F6 1991
? Miller, Saul. After Law School? Finding a Job in a Tight Market. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978. KF 299 .M5
? The Quality Pursuit: Assuring Standards in the Practice of Law. Chicago, IL: Section of Law Practice
Management, ABA, 1989. KF 300 .Z9 Q82 1989
? Tax Law: Legal careers With the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service. Washington, DC:
Dept. of Treasury, GPO, 1989. DOCUMENTS T 22.44/2: 673/990 1990


? Bay, Monica. Careers in Civil Litigation. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1990. KF 299 .T7 B39 1990
? Careers in Intellectual Property Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1993. KF 3165 .Z9 A44 1993
? Careers in International Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1993. KZ 1238 U55 2001
? Fox, Ronald W. Lawful Pursuit: Careers in Public Interest Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1995. KF
299 .P8 F59 1995
? Henslee, William D. Careers in Entertainment Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1990. KF 299 .E58
H4 1990
? Jarvis, Robert M. Careers in Admiralty and Maritime Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1993. KF
1104 .J37 1993
? Luney, Percy R. Careers in Natural Resources and Environmental Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association,
1987. KF 299 .E6 L86 1987
? Munneke, Gary A. Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 2003. KF 297 .M862
? Now Hiring: Government Jobs for Lawyers. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1996. RESERVE KF 299 .
G6 N6
? Shropshire, Kenneth L. Careers in Sports Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1990. KF 299 .S8 S5
? Wayne, Ellen K. Careers in Labor Law. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1985. KF 299 .L3 W39 1985


? African-Americans and the Legal Profession in Historical Perspective. New York: Garland, 1992. RESERVE KF
299 .A35 A35 1992
? American Bar Association. Commission on Women in the Profession. Elusive Equality: the Experiences of
Women in Legal Education. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1996. KF 299 .W6 A445 1996
? American Bar Association. Task Force on Minorities in the Legal Profession. The Final Report on Minority
Lawyers in Private Practice Law Firms. Chicago, IL: American Bar Foundation, 1985 MICROFICHE KF
325.2085 .A942 1985
? The Burdens of Both, the Privileges of Neither: a Report on the Multicultural Women Attorneys Network.
Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1994. KF 299 .M56 B87 1994
? Epstein, Cynthia Fuchs. Women in Law. 2nd. ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. KF 299 .W6 E65
? Hagen, John. Gender in Practice: A Study of Lawyers’ Lives. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995
RESERVE KE 332 .W6 H34 1995
? Harrington, Mona. Women Lawyers: Rewriting the Rules. New York: Plume, 1995. KF 299 .W6 H36 1995
? Lentz, Bernard F. Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 1995. KF 299 .W6
L46 1995
? Littlejohn, Edward J. Black Lawyers, Law Practice, and Bar Associations–1844 to 1970: A Michigan History.
Detroit: Wolverine Bar Association, 1987. KFM 4276 .L57 1987
? Smith, J. Clay. Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1993. KF 299 .A35 S65 1993
? Tucker, Marilyn. Options and Obstacles: a Survey of the Studies of the Careers of Women Lawyers. Chicago,
IL: American Bar Association, 1994. KF 299 .W6 T82 1994
? Women in the Law: A Look at the Numbers. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 1995. KF 299 .W6 W6


See Also

  • Lawyers Trust Account Board
  • Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board
  • Lawyers, capital and interest
  • Lawyers and Pictures of the Socialistic Future
  • Lawyers Professional Liability Claims
  • Lawyers Professional Conduct
  • International Lawyers Associations
  • Lawyers and Principles of Economics
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Lawyers’ Incorporated

New Challenges For E-Commerce Clients And Their Lawyers and the E-Commerce Law

New Challenges For E-Commerce Clients And Their Lawyers and the Legal Aspects of E-Commerce


See Also

  • PPC Advertising
  • Social Networking
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Lawyers: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Lawyers. This part provides references, in relation to Lawyers, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Lawyers by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Lawyers and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Lawyers or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Lawyers and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Lawyers. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Lawyers should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Lawyers when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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