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Civil rights lawyers typically specialize in civil rights laws and work with companies and individuals that may be involved with situations in which civil rights may have been violated. These lawyers are known for working with plaintiffs in civil rights cases, though some lawyers may also choose to represent defendants in civil rights cases in order to ensure a proper defense. Regardless of which side they are on in a case, civil rights lawyers prepare a case, examine evidence, argue the merits of a case in a court of law, and work toward the overall benefit of their clients.
The area of law known as civil rights deals with basic human rights that all people are guaranteed under the laws of a land. Civil rights lawyers usually become involved in a case in which these rights have been ignored or denied to someone due to some aspect of who that person is. These cases typically involve issues such as ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or identity, age, disability, and any other feature that may make one person different from someone else. When civil rights are denied to someone due to one of these factors, then civil rights lawyers typically become involved with a case.
Civil rights lawyers can be hired to either work with a plaintiff, the person bringing a civil rights case to court, or the defendant, who the action is being taken against. Once a civil rights lawyer takes a case, he or she will begin by building a case for one side or the other. This involves an analysis of evidence in a case and the testimony of various witnesses and experts. Depending on what side of a case civil rights lawyers work on, this work can be done to either strengthen or weaken the claim of a plaintiff.
Many civil rights lawyers work with a staff of assistants and law students to help perform research and interview witnesses. Civil rights lawyers will then argue the merits and weaknesses of a case before a judge or jury, depending on the nature of the case. A civil rights case is typically a civil case in which service or employment was denied to a person due to that person’s ethnicity, gender, age, or similar factor and the plaintiff brings a civil suit against the defendant to redress the perceived discrimination. Civil rights cases can potentially be criminal cases as well, however, such as “hate crimes” in which some characteristic of a person was the cause for an act of violence against him or her.