What is a lawyer?
A lawyer is a trained professional who is allowed 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 importantly, a lawyer is a representative or advocate on behalf of a client.
How do you become a lawyer?
Before practicing law in Oregon, lawyers must be admitted to a professional organization called the Oregon State Bar. To be admitted to the Bar, you must do the following:
- Secure a college degree and at least three years of legal education at an accredited law school.
- Pass an investigation to determine your character and moral fitness to practice law.
- Pass a written examination (commonly known as “The Bar Exam”) given by the Board of Bar Examiners and approved by the Supreme Court of Oregon.
Can non-lawyers practice law in Oregon?
All residents, regardless of legal training, have the right to represent themselves in their own
legal matters. However, before you can be a lawyer and represent another person in court, or give specific legal advice 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 knowledge of many fields of law, an understanding of how laws interact with one another, and how laws may be interpreted and applied to a particular person’s situation. Practicing law also requires trustworthiness. Lawyers must protect the assets and interests of their clients and tell the truth about the facts and law so courts can make decisions that are appropriate under Oregon laws.
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. Oregon 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 are aware of key changes to Oregon laws.
When do you need a lawyer?
A lawyer can help you after you encounter a legal issue, 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.”
Rather, helping you avoid legal conflicts 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 a 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;
- Starting a business;
- Organizing business associations, such as corporations or partnerships;
- Having an accident involving damage to persons or property;
- Seeking divorce, filing for child custody, adoptions or other domestic matters;
- Filing for bankruptcy; and
- Any matter concerning substantial change in your economic status.
Legal editor: Andrew Kalloch September 2018