Some lawyers develop highly specialized practice areas. However, meeting the most widespread need for legal services requires the broad-based skill and knowledge of a general practitioner in solo or small firm practice. These “neighborhood lawyers” meet community needs by applying the skills most classically associated with the practice of law.
As a general practitioner, here are a few examples of work you are likely to encounter.
- Drafting wills
- Defending people accused of crimes
- Handling family law matters
- Incorporating a small business
- Drafting a sales or real estate contract
General practitioners interact with clients face-to-face, offering a more individualized type of legal assistance. If you choose to become a general practice lawyer, your law school coursework will prepare you to deal with the law in ways that make a personal impact on your clients and their families. General practice training is also useful for law students unsure of where they want to practice. Lawyers prepared for general practice have a broad background that enables them to develop expertise during their careers.
The bar exams in Texas and many other states were designed with the traditional general practice attorney in mind, so many of these recommended courses will also help in your bar exam preparation. The following list of courses covers issues commonly important to solo and small firm general practice. However, you aren’t required to take every course listed.
- ADR Survey: Negotiation, Mediation & Arbitration
- Business Associations I
- Consumer Law
- Criminal Procedure
- Texas Criminal Procedure
- Texas Pretrial Procedure
- Family Law
- Law Practice Management
- Marital Property
- Wills & Estates
- LARW III: Drafting for the General Practitioner
Here are some other courses that you should consider. You should choose courses that interest you or that will further your career objectives.
- Accounting for Lawyers
- Business Fundamentals for Lawyers
- Employment Law
- Federal Income Taxation
- Oil & Gas
- Payment Systems
- Sales & Leases
- Secured Transactions
- Texas Trials & Appeals
- Trusts & Fiduciary Responsibilities
- LARW III: Contract Drafting
- LARW III: Estate Planning & Drafting
- LARW III: Litigation Drafting
- LARW III: Real Estate Drafting
The law school offers several clinics that will help you build skills in areas that are relevant to general practice. Take one or more clinical courses to gain experience in family law, mediation, entrepreneurship, criminal law or litigation.