What is a lawyer?
A lawyer is a trained professional who is authorized to explain the
law, handle legal matters and appear in court on behalf of other
people. A lawyer’s work also may involve counseling, preparing
documents and other tasks. Most of all, a lawyer is a representative
or advocate on behalf of a client.
How do you become a lawyer?
To be admitted to practice law in Oregon, you must have a college degree
and must have completed at least three years of legal education in
an accredited law school. Your character and moral fitness to practice
law must be approved after a searching investigation. Most people must
also successfully pass a written examination given by the Board of
Bar Examiners and approved by the Supreme Court of Oregon.
Can non-lawyers practice law?
All citizens have the right to represent themselves in their own legal
matters. Before you can be a lawyer and represent another person in
court, or give individualized legal advice or assistance to another
person, you must be admitted to the Oregon State Bar.
Why do you have to be lawyer to practice law?
Practicing law is complicated. It requires up-to-date knowledge of
many different fields of law, and an understanding of how the different
laws interact with one another and how they may be interpreted and
applied to a particular person’s situation. Practicing law also
requires trustworthiness. Lawyers are often asked to hold and keep
safe large sums of client money. In addition, the courts rely on lawyers
to tell the truth about the facts and law so they can make decisions
that are appropriate under the laws of our state.
The requirements for admission to practice law in Oregon are intended
to protect the public by ensuring that lawyers are competent and trustworthy
to provide legal services. In addition, once a lawyer is admitted to
practice law in Oregon, the Oregon Supreme Court, through the Oregon
State Bar, continues to regulate the conduct of lawyers. For example,
a lawyer can be disciplined by the court for ethical misconduct. Lawyers
are required to have malpractice insurance so that if they make a mistake
that causes damage to a client, the client may be compensated. Lawyers
are also required to take continuing legal education courses to ensure
that they stay current on Oregon laws.
When do you need a lawyer?
A lawyer can help you after you get into trouble, but the best time
to consult one is before, not after, you have a legal problem. Never
think of a lawyer as a “last resort.”
Preventive law is often the most valuable service a lawyer can perform
for you and those who depend on you. Here is a check list of events
in which you should consider consulting your lawyer before you act:
Buying or selling a home or other real estate;
Buying, selling or leasing other property;
Signing written contracts with major financial provisions or consequences;
Having tax problems;
Signing a will or having estate problems;
Going into business;
Organizing business associations, such as corporations or partnerships;
Having an accident involving damage to persons or property;
Dissolution of marriage, child custody problems, adoptions or other domestic matters;
Filing bankruptcy; and
Any matter concerning substantial change in your economic status.
Edited September 2011