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Lawyer – who is he?

What is a Lawyer? Jerry Seinfeld once put it "the guy who knows the rules of the country" but a lawyer has many names and what is his authority really?
Lawyer standing in front of a building. Text: Don't be scared, he is just a lawyer, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Lawyer

A lawyer, as comedian Jerry Seinfeld once quipped, is ‘the guy who knows the rules of the country’. Whilst essentially true, on a more serious note, lawyers are licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which they have completed the necessary educational and vocational obligations. The route varies in different countries, but in general, the pre-requisite steps include an undergraduate law degree, or juris doctor in the US, plus a term of pupillage, and being called to the bar.

As a generalization, lawyers interpret and apply the rules of law across a variety of fields. This can range from representing in criminal cases, through to providing taxation advice, registering patents and other intellectual property, handling divorce proceedings, acting as an in-house corporate counsel to business, and even as a business advisor.

For Malaysia, largely based on English common law and Indian Law, the lawyer’s role is a fused one, meaning a lawyer here can act in the capacity of an attorney and a solicitor.

Foreign lawyers moving to new jurisdictions will usually have to pass local examinations and often serve some chambering time.

The term lawyer is the generic term for a person who is a licenced legal practitioner. Lawyers can be termed differently depending on where you are: solicitors, barristers, attorneys, counselors, advocates. Most commonly you will find the titles of solicitor and barrister.

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In England Wales, a barrister does not normally deal directly with the end client, but rather, works with and through a solicitor. In the US, the role is fused, meaning attorneys can practice as either a barrister or solicitor.

In the United Kingdom, there are in fact three separate jurisdictions: England & Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. In all, undergraduate study is the normal route followed by some vocational training period.

For Malaysia, largely based on English common law and Indian Law, the lawyer’s role is a fused one, meaning a lawyer here can act in the capacity of an attorney and a solicitor.