What is a general practice attorney?
What does a general practice attorney do?
What are the benefits of working with a general practice attorney?
In this article, we will discuss the concept of general practice attorney in detail.
We will look at what is a general practice lawyer, what can they do, what can’t they do and more.
Are you ready?
Let’s get started…
What is a general practice attorney
A general practice attorney or a general practice lawyer is a legal professional with the ability to handle a wide range of legal matters without necessarily being specialized in a specific area of the law.
The term “general practice” is used to refer to general areas of the law as opposed to specialized areas of the law.
For example, a general practice attorney can represent a client in court, handle contract negotiations and provide legal support concerning common legal issues faced by people living in society.
General practice lawyers are great to handle the routine and simpler types of cases.
Younger lawyers starting their practice will tend to start as a general practice lawyer until they can find an area of the law that they will consider specializing in.
If a general practice lawyer is not specialized in an area of the law, it does not mean that the lawyer is not competent.
It just means that the attorney is not focused on only one area of the law.
Specialization and competence are two different things.
A general practice attorney is like a family doctor.
Although a family doctor is not specialized in heart surgery, it does not mean that the family doctor is not competent.
The same is true for lawyers.
Although a general practice lawyer does not handle tax laws, it does not mean that they are not competent in the areas of the law they handle.
What does a general practice attorney do
General practice attorneys handle general and common types of legal issues.
For example, you can have a general practice attorney to provide you with legal support in the following areas:
- family law cases
- Landlord and tenant issues
- Neighbour disputes
- personal injury cases
- Business transactions
- Real estate
- Minor criminal cases
- Court representations and litigation
The general practice solicitor has sufficient knowledge to provide you with competent and qualified legal services when your legal demand is routine and simple.
It’s important to speak with your general practice attorney to better understand if they have experience in the specific area of the law you need legal assistance with.
What can’t a general practice attorney do
There are instances when general practice attorneys should not be hired for certain types of legal cases.
Although general practice professionals are great in routine and simple legal cases, they should not be your lawyers of choice when dealing with complex and specialized legal matters.
For example, it’s conceivable for a general practice attorney to handle a dispute between neighbours but it will not be feasible for the same lawyer to handle a multi-billion dollar real estate dispute between two international organizations.
In the first case, the neighbour dispute case is quite common, both the plaintiff and defendant are in the same jurisdiction, the local laws apply to the dispute and any potential court dispute can be handled by a single person.
On the other hand, a multi-billion dollar international real estate dispute will require specialized attorneys able to handle a large volume of legal proceedings, understand the international laws applicable to the real estate dispute, understand the laws applicable to the contract, have a team and resources to handle the complex matter.
Keep in mind that if you hire a general practice attorney and, during the mandate, it appears that the complexity of the matter is beyond what your lawyer had the experience to handle, the general practice attorney must inform you and help you find a specialized lawyer.
Nonetheless, you must consider the overall importance of your case and complexity to assess whether or not you should work with a specialized attorney or general practice attorney.
Benefits of working with a general practice attorney
In some cases, you will have an advantage in working with a general practice attorney as opposed to a specialized attorney.
Overlap in several areas of the law
When you are faced with a common legal issue overlapping with other areas of the law, you may be better off working with a general practice lawyer.
For example, a divorce case may spill into a criminal case for conjugal violence.
A general practice lawyer who understands family law and criminal law will be a better choice for you as you will have one lawyer handling both matters.
The general practice lawyer will better understand the intricate dynamic between family law and criminal law as they understand both areas of the law.
If you choose to work with specialized lawyers, you’ll need to hire a specialized family lawyer and a specialized criminal lawyer.
It may be very expensive and not as efficient to have two lawyers handle your case separately.
Although every case is unique, generally speaking, for routine and simple cases, you may find it better to work with one general practice lawyer to handle your case.
Routine and non-emergency issues
Another scenario where a general practice lawyer will be a better choice is for routine and non-emergency issues.
For example, consider the day-to-day business activities of a company.
You can have a general practice lawyer providing legal support to a company in many areas of the law such as corporate law, commercial law, employment and so on.
This can be a better choice for a small business that can rely on the same lawyer for support and develop a relationship with that lawyer.
It may not make sense to work with multiple lawyers who are strictly specialized in only corporate law or commercial law or employment law.
Again, depending on the size of the business and the complexity of what’s needed, you may want to consider a specialized attorney.
However, for routine business needs, a general practice attorney can be a better choice.
When to hire a general practice attorney vs a specialized attorney
You want to hire a general practice attorney when you have a common and routine legal matter to deal with.
Let’s take an example of a business and see when they should hire a general practice attorney versus a specialized attorney.
“Run your business” type of case
You can consider hiring a general practice attorney to help you “run your business”.
This means that you can hire a general practice attorney to give you legal support with different types of legal issues commonly faced by a small or medium organization.
A company may need legal support on the negotiation of a commercial contract, renew a lease, handle an employee complaint or manage the company records.
These are daily, ongoing and routine legal activities needed by a company.
“Bet your business” type of case
On the other hand, you want to hire a specialized attorney when you are “betting your company”.
Betting your company means that your company is faced with a critical or very risky legal issue that requires specialized and tactical legal support.
For example, imagine that another business files a multi-million dollar lawsuit against your company.
If you lose that case, it can potentially lead your company to bankruptcy.
This is a case where you cannot gamble the business.
You must hire a specialized attorney to ensure that you get the best possible legal representation to handle your case.
How do general practice lawyers work
General practice lawyers will often work as a sole legal practitioner or form a small law firm with a few other general practitioners.
You can also have a general practice law firm with a small department in general practice where they may hire a few general practice lawyers to support their clients.
General practice lawyers will also tend to establish themselves in a community or in a region where there may be fewer lawyers to compete with.
In this fashion, they will become the lawyer of the village, the town or the community.
General practice lawyers can operate in major cities as well.
In this context, they will offer more affordable legal rates and will generally work as sole practitioners.
How to assess if a general practice attorney is qualified
If a general practice lawyer handles many areas of the law, how can you tell that he or she is a qualified person to handle your case.
Although general practice attorneys handle a variety of cases, they may tend to gravitate around a few areas of the law.
For example, a general practice solicitor may handle family law cases quite often and next to that handle minor criminal law cases resulting from the family law dispute such as conjugal violence, death threats or minor cases of assault.
In this case, the general practice attorney’s primary area of the law is in the area of family law and the secondary area is criminal law.
If you hire this general practice attorney for business-related matters, you may not be hiring the right person.
Having said that, the other thing you should do is to set up a consultation with the lawyer to see how the lawyer intends to represent you.
The general practice lawyer has to inform you what type of cases he or she is qualified to handle.
So ask the lawyer questions.
What type of experience to they have, have they handled these types of cases before, how long have they been practicing and so on.
If you are going to a general practice lawyer, you are looking for a more affordable lawyer and someone who can handle common and routine issues.
You should expect that the lawyer will not have a laser-focused experience but should have a sufficient and well-rounded experience to handle your legal matter.
A general practice attorney is a lawyer able to handle a wide range of legal matters.
Often, they will handle non-complex legal matters that are common in society.
Consider areas such as divorce, leases, bankruptcy or minor criminal law cases.
A general practice lawyer is like a family doctor.
You’ll go see a family doctor for a checkup or non-emergency matters.
It’s the same thing for a general practice lawyer.
If you are a small or medium-sized business, you’ll work with a general practice lawyer to handle day-to-day and general business-related legal matters.
On the other hand, if you have a complex, critical or very specific type of legal issue, you will want to consider a specialized attorney.
There are benefits to working with a general practice attorney.
For a small business, you can have one lawyer handle most of your general legal affairs.
You’ll develop a relationship with one person and that one lawyer will get to know your business well.
It’s not worth it to work with multiple lawyers who get a small glimpse of your business.
You should also note that although general practice lawyers are not specialized in an area of the law, it does not mean that they are not competent lawyers.
You can have great general practice lawyers with great experience and well-rounded knowledge in handling your legal matter.
Don’t hesitate to consider working with a general practice lawyer depending on the complexity of your case.
We hope this article helped you better understand a general practice attorney.
Have you worked with one in the past?
How was your experience?
We would love to hear from you, drop us a comment.