What Is a Lawyer?

A lawyer is an expert. The expertise that the lawyer wields is twofold. First, it includes knowledge of how the legal system works—how all the written and unwritten procedural rules apply to guide the determination and application of the law. Much of this article is concerned with these procedural rules. Second, the lawyer’s expertise includes substantive rules of law, like the rules protecting patented technology or forbidding the sale of cocaine.

Even though law is a field in which expert knowledge is necessary to operate at the highest level, it is open to the layperson to know some of the procedural and substantive rules—the difference between the layperson and the expert is in the scope and depth of the expert’s knowledge.

This article cannot address the substantive rules of law in any detail, and it cannot make you a lawyer. However, it will educate you about many of the techniques of argument and written and unwritten procedural rules—rules about the determination and application of substantive rules—that form the distinctive expertise of the lawyer.


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