A lawyer is a person who practices or studies law, an attorney or a counselor. In most countries, particularly civil law countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries, clerks, and scriveners. These countries do not have “lawyers” in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider. Their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained people, known as jurists, some of which are advocates who are licensed to have practice in a court. Lawyers are always free to form voluntary associations of their own, apart from any licensing or mandatory membership that may be required by the laws of their jurisdiction.

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. The United States, with its large number of firms with more than 50 lawyers, is an exception.

Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal or civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in support of their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest courses of action in business and personal matters. All attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the laws to the specific circumstances that their clients face.

Lawyers often oversee the work of support staff, such as paralegals and legal assistants. Lawyers may have different titles and different duties, depending on where they work. While working in a law firm, lawyers, sometimes called associates, perform legal work for individuals or businesses. Some attorneys who work at law firms, such as criminal law attorneys or defense attorneys, represent and defend the accused.

Lawyers do everything in their power to win the case. A lot of people ask do lawyers get paid if they lose? Well they do. The way it works is some cases use something called a flat fee agreement, for example if I get arrested I could pay the lawyer 1,500 dollars to handle the case. Or they alternative is I get charged hourly, maybe 200 dollars for every hour they work on the case. Other cases, especially personal injury cases, use contingent fee agreements. Under such agreements, the lawyer is only paid if the client wins and he is paid based on a percentage of the money that the client wins (i.e. in a 30% contingent fee case, the lawyer would get $30,000 of a $100,000 award). If the plaintiff loses the case, there is no pool of money to recover some. Although it sometimes happens that the lawyer gets nothing, this is part of the risk that they take. They weigh all the factors and decide whether the case is likely to pay out. Then they take that risk, which is why if they win they get such a large amount.