General Practice Law
A general practice attorney is an attorney who has obtained the education and degree to practice law but has opted not to specialize in one area. Instead, most general practice attorneys provide a wide range of legal services for a variety of cases, including those involving matters of business law, family law, criminal law, the review or drafting of documents, and the creation of an estate plan.
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UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021
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- How to become a general practice lawyer involves advanced education and a law degree
- Most general practice firms provide services to clients in simple matters such as personal injury, straightforward estate planning, minor criminal matters, or simple family law issues
- From divorce to dissolving a business partnership, you can benefit from the variety of services that a single general practice attorney can provide
General practice lawyers are often sought by small businesses to perform a variety of legal services, including developing policies and procedures that are compliant with state and federal regulations, filing the necessary documents to incorporate, and leasing a commercial property.
However, general practice lawyers can be used to provide services for personal issues as well, including the creation of a will or modifying a child support agreement.
While general law attorneys do not specialize in a single area of the law, they cannot be expected to know every area of the law. When searching for an experienced general practice attorney to help you with your legal issue, it is important to read the types of cases your lawyer handles to see if his or her expertise is a good fit with your needs.
Where can I find a general law attorney near me? Enter your ZIP code above to connect with affordable general practice law firms in your area.
What is a general practice lawyer?
Many attorneys specialize in a specific practice area, such as contracts, personal injury claims, bankruptcy, or criminal defense. General practice lawyers are attorneys who have knowledge and experience in a number of areas of the law and have chosen not to specialize in any one particular niche.
General practice lawyers generally deal with common legal issues that ordinary citizens and private businesses face, including entering into, ending, or enforcing various types of contracts or obtaining compensation from a third-party insurance company after a car accident.
While many people believe that it is better to find an attorney who specializes in the area of the law that your case pertains to, a general law attorney can provide the same services with a similar level of experience and knowledge. The benefits of hiring a general practice attorney are that they are readily able to help draft and review documents, and can also represent you in court when needed.
However, if your legal issues are particularly complex or outside their areas of expertise, your general practice attorney can refer you to a specialist who can provide an expanded level of service.
Often, general practice lawyers will focus on two, three, or more of the legal tasks or practice areas discussed below.
General Practice: Creating or Reviewing Legal Documents
A general practice lawyer can assist individuals and businesses with drafting or reviewing contracts, including:
- Business contracts between companies and vendors
- Contracts and documents regarding the formation of a business or the end of a business partnership
- Leases or rental agreements
- A will or power of attorney
While there are dozens of websites available where you can download free templates for these types of contracts, having a general practice lawyer assist in the creation of these documents ensures that the contract is legally enforceable in the state where you reside.
Additionally, your general practice attorney can review contracts that have been presented for your signature to ensure that entering into the agreement represented by the document is in your best financial or personal interest.
General Practice: Landlord and Tenant Issues
Both landlords and tenants have a number of protections in the law to prevent either side of the rental equation from being mistreated. In most cases, the responsibilities of each party are clearly spelled out in the lease agreement.
However, many individuals rely on do-it-yourself templates to create a lease agreement. The templates are often not state-specific, meaning that the document could contain provisions that are not legal or enforceable in your state. Additionally, these documents do not always cover all the issues that can arise during a rental, such as procedures to terminate a lease early or how much a landlord can legally collect in deposits before allowing a renter to move in.
A general practice attorney who deals in landlord-tenant issues can perform a number of services, including creating a legally enforceable lease that protects the interests of the client and representing either a landlord or tenant client in court.
General Practice: Traffic Violations
In most states, having too many traffic violations within a certain period of time can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Additionally, being convicted of a traffic violation generally results in a fine and other penalties, and can even, in some circumstances, result in incarceration.
A general practice lawyer who represents clients in traffic court can provide a number of services aimed at reducing or avoiding financial penalties and other consequences associated with traffic violations, including:
- Informed guidance of the legal options available to you
- Negotiations with the prosecutor in order to develop a plea bargain that could reduce the sentence
- Investigation into the actions of the officer who issued the citation to ensure that your rights were upheld
- Attendance and representation in traffic court, including presentation of the case and the evidence needed to prove your innocence
While an attorney is not necessarily needed in all types of traffic violation issues, a general practice lawyer can be particularly helpful if you are a commercial driver who stands to lose his or her commercial driver’s license (CDL) upon conviction of the traffic violation, or if you have multiple traffic offenses on your driving history and face a potential suspension of your license if you are convicted.
General Practice: Family Law Services
While there are tremendous moral and emotional implications to marriage and divorce, in the eyes of the court, marriage is a series of contracts entered into by consenting adults. The divorce is a final settlement agreement to mark the end of the union and the provisions of the divorce decree can have permanent financial impacts on both parties.
As with other contracts, a general law attorney can draft or review separation agreements or even assist with child custody matters. Other types of family law services a general practice attorney can provide include:
- Assistance with the legal process of adopting a child
- Assistance with emancipation, which is a legal process by which an individual under the age of 18 proves that he or she is living as a self-supporting adult and is no longer under the legal care of his or her parents
- Assistance with obtaining a restraining order against a former spouse or romantic partner
- Drafting or reviewing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
- Assistance with modifying child support or alimony order, or in seeking to modify custody or visitation
General Practice: Personal Injury
Personal injury law involves seeking compensation from an at-fault party’s insurance provider for injuries that were the result of careless or reckless actions. This area of the law covers cases involving motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse or neglect, premises liability accidents such as slip and falls or dog bites, or injuries resulting from defective products, foods, or medications.
Individuals who have suffered a workplace injury or illness and need assistance in filing a worker’s compensation claim can also obtain services from a general practice lawyer who accepts personal injury clients.
The services that a general practice lawyer can provide in personal injury cases include:
- Guidance about the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit in court
- Establishment of value to a claim, which is based on the expenses and quality-of-life impacts the claimant has incurred as a result of the injury, as well as those he or she will likely incur in the future
- Determination of all sources of liability and all associated insurance policies that can be accessed in order to provide compensation
- Settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer
- The filing of a personal injury lawsuit in civil court within the statutory deadline for personal injury cases
- Gathering and organizing the evidence and witness testimony you need to prove your claim
- Litigation services, including the delivery of opening and closing arguments, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award
It should be noted that insurance policies are almost always the means by which personal injury settlements and awards are paid, which is the reason they are the source of the settlement offer. While it is possible to file a lawsuit against an uninsured person and even to obtain a judgment, it is very difficult to collect such judgments as most people can’t afford to pay for injury costs out-of-pocket.
General Practice: Real Estate Law
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments an individual can make. The transaction of a home, vacant land, or commercial property from seller to buyer is one that is strictly regulated. In fact, most states require an attorney to be present at closing.
Even if this isn’t a requirement, if you are involved as a buyer or seller of any type of real estate transaction, you are leasing a property to or from someone, or you are renting a home or office space, you will be required to enter into a contractual agreement. A general practice attorney experienced with your state’s real estate law can ensure that you understand the agreement, that it serves your interests, and that it is legally enforceable.
The services your attorney can provide include:
- Preparing or reviewing documents related to the transaction, including purchase agreements, mortgage documents, and documents related to the title and transfer of the property
- Writing title insurance policies
- Completing title searches on the property
- Procuring paperwork pertaining to financing
A general practice attorney can also represent you in court if you are involved in a real estate dispute such as a chain of title, lot line, or other dispute regarding the contracts involved in the transaction.
After the financial crisis of the 2000’s, laws governing real estate transactions were tightened. Since then, many general practice attorneys who included real estate law in their practice have either stopped working in that area or have moved to specialize in just real estate matters. The heightened security and record-keeping requirements of actions taken after the recession has made it more difficult for smaller general practices who worked in real estate matters for only a small portion of their practice.
General Practice: Immigration Law
A general practice attorney who accepts immigration cases can provide guidance and assistance for foreign or non-citizen residents who are required to interact with U.S. immigration authorities about matters such as:
- Obtaining a green card or becoming a naturalized citizen
- Assisting visa applicants who have been denied entry due to a past criminal conviction
- Assisting individuals who are facing deportation or who wish to re-enter the country legally after having been deported
- Assisting individuals who have been denied entry into the U.S. due to a medical condition, such as a communicable disease
- Assisting applicants seeking an employment-based visa who are not being assisted in immigration matters by their employer
- Helping individuals who are immigrating to the U.S. with a child who will be 21 before permanent resident status is granted
- Helping individuals who simply need assistance with the process of applying for a visa or with a request by federal authorities for a certain type of documentation
Use our free legal tools to find a general practice law firm experienced with immigration law near you.
General Practice: Bankruptcy Law
According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, more than half a million individuals and businesses file for bankruptcy each year in order to reduce or eliminate debt.
When someone owes more money than he or she can repay, the legal system provides a safety net through the nine chapters of Title 11 of the U.S. Code. These chapters formalize a process by which the assets of the indebted party are weighed, priority is assigned to creditors, assets are liquidated and funds are distributed to creditors, or a business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that it is able to meet its financial obligations.
A general practice lawyer with experience in bankruptcy law can advise businesses and individuals as to their legal options in filing for bankruptcy and can negotiate agreements with the creditors or with the court in order to assist the client in obtaining debt relief while retaining ownership of as many assets as possible.
General Practice: Estate Planning
A general practice lawyer who provides estate planning services can assist clients in the strategic planning that is necessary to preserve your assets for your beneficiaries and to ensure your business can continue operating after your death.
Those who want to hire a general practice lawyer for estate planning should consider seeking an attorney who provides this type of service includes:
- Small business owners or business partners who need to plan for succession
- Individuals with out-of-state property assets or foreign property assets that they wish to leave to loved ones
- Individuals who intend to leave assets to someone who isn’t a U.S. citizen
- Individuals who wish to disinherit a family member or who wish to leave their assets to someone other than a family member
- Individuals with blended families who wish to bequeath assets to a stepchild or a stepparent
- Individuals who have a family member with special needs and wish to ensure that an appropriate guardian is provided
- Individuals who obtain care through Medicare or Medicaid, as both of these agencies can claim assets as a form of repayment
- Individuals who are wondering if a revocable trust is the right estate planning document for them
General Practice: Lemon Law
A “lemon” is a new vehicle that has substantial manufacturing defects that affect its usage, safety, or value. This is the vehicle that spends more time in the shop than it does on the road, in spite of being so new that it is still under warranty.
Most states have lemon laws for used cars and new vehicles that provide compensation through the court for individuals who have purchased a lemon car. Compensation can be in the form of a replacement car of the same year, make, and model, or it can involve repayment of the full purchase prices of the car, associated tax, license and registration fees, and attorney fees.
A general law attorney who offers services to clients who have purchased a lemon can help gather the evidence needed to show that the vehicle was taken to the shop the required number of times and could not be fixed. General practice lawyers can also file the claim against the manufacturer, negotiate a settlement, represent the case in court, and provide continued representation if the vehicle’s manufacturer appeals the decision.
General Practice: Federal or State Benefits
A general practice attorney can also assist individuals with applying for federal benefits through various agencies and programs including SSDI or SSI benefits through the Social Security Administration, disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs, or health and medical benefits for 9/11 first responders and survivors through the September 11th Victim’s Compensation Fund or the WTC Health Program.
In order to reduce fraudulent claims, the application processes for these programs are often daunting and require a large amount of evidence. A general practice attorney with experience in assisting clients with federal benefits can provide services including:
- Providing guidance to the client as to whether he or she is eligible to receive benefits through the program
- Ensuring that the application for benefits is complete and contains the required evidentiary documentation
- Assisting the client in appealing an unfavorable decision
General law attorneys who assist clients with applying for benefits are also generally aware of additional state programs that the client can also seek assistance from and can provide guidance as to the requirements and the process of obtaining those benefits.
General Practice: Criminal Law
The primary role of an attorney representing a client in a criminal matter is to ensure that his or her rights are protected and that he or she has access to adequate legal counsel and the opportunity to defend himself or herself against the crimes he or she is accused of committing.
To this end, some of the services a general practice attorney who serves clients in criminal law can provide include:
- Attendance and representation of the client at all court-required appearances, including arraignments, pre-trial hearings, settlement conferences, trials, sentence hearings, and appeals.
- Interviewing witnesses and obtaining evidence
- Filing court motions to suppress evidence
- Ensuring that the client’s Constitutional rights are upheld during the investigation, arrest, and court process
- Performing legal research
- Creating evidence exhibits for court
- Gathering expert witnesses who can provide testimony on the defendant’s behalf
- Negotiating plea deals in order to reduce the penalties the client faces in exchange for the avoidance of a trial
If you are facing any criminal charges, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to protect your rights.
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When should I hire a general practice attorney?
Contrary to the way legal matters and the legal system are portrayed in television and movies, most individuals and business owners will not face a serious courtroom battle in their lives. They will, however, likely face a number of small legal matters throughout life that require the assistance of an attorney.
A general practice attorney is usually all one needs for everyday legal issues, and those who find that their issue is a bit more extensive can have the peace of mind of knowing that their general law attorney has the credentials to handle the issue or provide a specialized referral to an attorney who can.
Need to speak with a general practice attorney in your area? Enter your ZIP code below to get in touch with affordable general practice lawyers near you for free.