Legal profession is a profession, and legal professionals study, develop and apply law. Usually, there is a requirement for someone choosing a career in law to first obtain a law degree or some other form of legal education.
It is difficult to generalize about the structure of the profession, because
- there are two major legal systems, and even within them, there are different arrangements in jurisdictions, and
- terminology varies greatly.
While in civil law countries there are usually distinct clearly defined career paths in law, such as judge, in common law jurisdictions there tends to be one legal profession, and it is not uncommon, for instance, that a requirement for a judge is several years of practising law privately.
Historically, this has been the first legal specialization. In civil law countries, this is often a lifelong career. In common law legal system, on the other hand, judges are recruited from practising lawyers.
Lawyer, barrister, advocate
Practicing law means advising and representing clients as a private practitioner or in a law firm. In most countries, law graduates need to undergo some sort of apprenticeship, membership in a professional organization (BAR) and a license, although there are no licensed attorney's or Bar association judges in the United States as the Bar itself does not issue licenses and the states themselves are prevented by law from doing so.
The name for this profession is lawyer or attorney or "Esquire" in most of the English-speaking world, and advocate in many other countries.
In civil law countries, but also some common law jurisdictions there is one Law society (BAR) for all lawyers who want to provide services to the public. But in the United Kingdom and some of its former colonies, there are two quite separate kinds of lawyers providing legal services to the public.
ATTORNEY, From the word "attorn" is derived the name and occupation of an attorney; one who transfers or assigns property, rights, title and allegiance to the owner of the land. ATTORNMENT, n. The act of a feudatory, vassal or tenant, by which he consents, upon the alienation of an estate, to receive a new lord or superior, and transfers to him his homage and service.- Webster's 1828 Dictionary. LAWYER, A counselor; one learned in the law. - A Law Dictionary by John Bouvier (Revised Sixth Edition, 1856).
Other names include;
BARRISTER, English law. A counselor admitted to plead at the bar. 2. Outer barrister, is one who pleads outer or without the bar. 3. Inner barrister, a sergeant or king's counsel who pleads within the bar. 4. Vacation barrister, a counselor newly called to the bar, who is to attend for several long vacations the exercise of the house. 5. Barristers are called apprentices, apprentitii ad legem, being looked upon as learners, and not qualified until they obtain the degree of sergeant. Edmund Plowden, the author of the Commentaries, a volume of elaborate reports in the reigns of Edward VI., Mary, Philip and Mary, and Elizabeth, describes himself as an apprentice of the common law. - A Law Dictionary by John Bouvier (Revised Sixth Edition, 1856).
BARRISTER, n. [from bar.] A counselor, learned in the laws, qualified and admitted to please at the bar, and to take upon him the defense of clients; answering to the advocate or licentiate of other countries. Anciently, barristers were called, in England, apprentices of the law. Outer barristers are pleaders without the bar, to distinguish them from inner barristers, benchers or readers, who have been sometime admitted to please within the bar, as the king's counsel are. - Webster's 1828 Dictionary.
Solicitor - one who petitions (initiates) for another in a court SOLICIT, v.t. [Latin solicito] 1. To ask with some degree of earnestness; to make petition to; to apply to for obtaining something. This word implies earnestness in seeking ... 2. To ask for with some degree of earnestness; to seek by petition; as, to solicit an office; to solicit a favor. - Webster's 1828 Dictionary.
People, who study, research, organize, teach, and through that also create law, often working at universities, are called jurists. In civil law countries, their role is greater, because they draft codes, which are major laws that govern whole areas of law. In common law countries, the creation and interpretation of law has traditionally been the domain of judges.