Have a problem but are unsure whom to turn to? Talking to the right type of attorney at the start cuts down on a lot of time and missteps. Find out what type of attorney you need and what area of law your situation is covered by. Select the first letter of the word from the list below to jump to appropriate section of the glossary or simply scroll.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


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Admiralty and Maritime Law: Admiralty and maritime law covers the business and commercial (but not recreational) use of coastal and navigable waters, including the great lakes, rivers, bays, harbors, and ports. Legal issues include maritime jurisdiction, maritime or shipping contracts, maritime liens, rights to shipping lanes, liability of shipowners, shipmasters, and maritime workers, harbor or port access and operations, seaman rights, salvage rights, and ship or boat accidents, including property damage, personal injury and death. See Maritime Personal Injury.

Adoptions: Adoption law concerns the procedures and requirements to establish a legal parent-child relationship between adults and orphaned children or children who do not have a biological parent-child relationship. An adopted child has the same legal rights as do the natural children of the adoptive parents. Legal issues include agency and nonagency or private adoptions, adoption eligibility, putative (supposed) fathers' rights and registries, foreign or international adoptions, adoption fees and expenses, and access to adoption records. See Family Law.

Airplane Crash Litigation: Airplane crash litigation concerns the civil or tort liability of airlines (air carriers), aircraft owners and airports for property damage and injuries or deaths sustained by passengers and crew resulting from airplane or jet accidents. Legal issues include loss claim procedures, crash investigation and reporting requirements, nature and extent of property loss, personal injuries or deaths, loss or liability limits, jurisdiction issues including effect of international treaties, rights of survivors or shippers, and claim settlement procedures. See Aviation Law.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a process to resolve disputes without going through formal hearings or trials. The various ADR methods include the ombudsman, fact-finding, negotiation, settlement conferences, mediation, arbitration and mini-trials. ADR methods are used in marriage counseling, divorce settlements, employment disputes, insurance disputes, consumer complaints, and in the courts. An attorney's early involvement is essential to the client set and achieve objectives and to protect client interests in the event ADR fails. See Arbitration, Mediation.

Americans with Disabilities Act: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and comparable state laws prohibit discrimination in employment, public agencies or services, and public accommodations (restaurants and hotels) against employees or individuals with a medical condition or a physical or mental disability and imposes civil liability (injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages) for violations. Legal issues include extent of reasonable access or accommodations, nature and extent of disability, exemptions and enforcement provisions and available remedies. See Labor and Employment.

Antitrust and Trade Regulation: Antitrust laws prohibit unfair business and industry practices that interfere with free and open competition. Some prohibited practices include monopolies, restraints on trade or commerce, price fixing or discrimination, and exclusive contracts. State and federal trade regulations deal with unfair methods of competition called unfair and deceptive trade practices and include false advertising, product misrepresentations, misuse of trade names, inaccurate product labels, deceptive collection practices, and consumer exploitation. See Unfair Competition.

Appellate Practice: Appellate practice is the application of rules and procedures for challenging an adverse final judgment of an administrative agency or a lower court. A trial court is an appellate court for the review of administrative agency decisions. Appellate practice governs a party's right to file an appeal, the determination of appealable issues, the preparation and submission of an appeal, supporting documents and legal briefs, filing motions, making oral arguments, and filing petitions for rehearing or other post-appellate motions.

Arbitration: Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method where the parties to a dispute agree or are ordered by a court to have a neutral third party or panel hear and decide the dispute. Arbitration ranges from informal hearings to the formal trial-like settings where rules of evidence and procedure are followed. Arbitration awards may be nonbinding or binding and enforceable. An attorney should review arbitration agreements and participate in arbitration to protect client interests and to prepare for judicial review of any adverse award. See Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Asbestos Litigation: Asbestos or mesothelioma litigation concerns toxic tort lawsuits or claims filed by employees and deceased employees' estates or family members against employers and asbestos manufacturers or suppliers for compensation or damages for diseases or cancer contracted from prolonged exposure to asbestos. An experience asbestosis attorney should be consulted to ensure the timely filing of claims within the statute of limitations, ensure claim validity or justiciability, negotiate a settlement or litigate the claim. See Toxic Torts.

Asset Protection: Asset protection law concerns the application of legal strategies and techniques to protect a person's wealth or accumulated assets and limit the liability or exposure or risk to attachments or money judgments from future or potential creditors. Legal issues include lawfulness of asset protection planning or risk reduction plans and investments including establishment of trusts, title transfers or conveyances, limited liability company or partnership business forms, fraudulent asset protection schemes or criminal actions to defraud creditors. See Trusts and Estates.

Automobile Accidents: Automobile accidents concern the tort liability (liability for private or civil wrongs) of owners and operators of motor vehicles for property damage, personal injuries and death resulting from auto accidents or collisions. Legal issues include the duties owed by owners and operators or drivers of vehicles including commercial, public or government and privately-owned vehicles, extent of property damage, injuries or deaths, insurance coverage limitations and restrictions, and degree of fault including contributory or comparative negligence. See Personal Injury.

Automobile Insurance: Automobile or motor vehicle insurance concerns statutory requirements for owners to obtain and maintain compulsory coverage for their cars or autos. Types of coverage include comprehensive collision, liability, personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Some states permit self-insurance or have no-fault insurance laws. Legal issues include policy claims, coverage disputes, insurance bad faith and other unfair practices, policy cancellations, liability limits and vehicle ownership issues. See Insurance.

Aviation Law: Aviation law regulates passenger transportation and freight shipments by air including air space and airway rights, air traffic safety and control, airport security, regulation of routes, services and fares, tariffs or rates, aircraft and facility maintenance, aircraft maintenance and safety, and taxation. Legal issues include airport development and management requirements, air carrier and pilot licensing and registration, aircraft ownership and maintenance, emissions and noise control, acts of terrorism and victims compensation programs. See Airplane Crash Litigation.

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Banking Law: Banking law covers the regulation of banks, bank officials, and banking services such as checking accounts, savings accounts, and other deposit accounts, and bank loans. Bank-related crimes are also covered as are nonbank institutions such as savings and loan associations and credit unions that provide banking services. Bank customers should consult with attorneys on problems or difficulties in accessing deposit accounts, funds transfers, credit or loan services, discrimination in obtaining credit, dishonored checks, and account records. See Mortgages.

Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy law applies to debtors who may be individuals, businesses, or municipalities and who are insolvent and unable to pay creditors. Bankruptcy allows debtors to be free from their financial obligations by entering into trustee-administered liquidation or rehabilitation plans that divide and distribute their assets among the creditors. Bankruptcy proceedings are brought in federal bankruptcy courts. Debtors considering bankruptcy should consult a bankruptcy attorney for advice on eligibility, alternatives, and types of bankruptcies. See Commercial Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Foreclosures.

Birth Injuries: Birth injury actions or wrongful birth or wrongful life actions are civil or tort lawsuits brought against healthcare professionals, physicians, doctors or surgeons alleging negligence or malpractice for wrongful diagnoses or failure to prevent unwanted pregnancies or physical defects in unborn children or for causing injuries or disabilities in newborn children. Legal issues include statute of limitations (time limits to file suit), proof of negligence or misconduct, expert witness or testimony, informed consent and the measure of damages. See Medical Malpractice.

Breach of Contract: Breach of contract occurs when a party fails to perform a contractual duty or obligation. The type of or reason for the breach determines what remedy the injured party may seek. Only a material breach, such as a willful refusal to perform or a failure to pay or to perform a substantial part of the contract, may result in its termination or rescission unless there is an adequate defense, and only a judge or jury can say whether a breach is material. Other breach of contract remedies include an injunction, restitution, or money damages. See Contracts.

Business Enterprises: Business enterprises concerns the characteristics of business entities or forms including sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, joint ventures, closely held corporations, franchises and corporations. Legal issues include the filing of required forms such as articles of incorporation, determining ownership and management duties, obligations and responsibilities, financing or capitalization requirements, financial reporting, regulatory compliance, tax issues and terminating the business. See Business Law.

Business Formation: Business formation concerns regulations governing the creation or start of a new business including sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, franchises, joint ventures, closely held corporations and corporations. Legal issues include statutory compliance with formation and registration requirements including form filings with state agencies, drafting of articles of incorporation or partnership agreements and other required documents and determination of financing or initial capitalization. See Business Law.

Business Law: Business law refers to a cross-section of legal areas that apply to businesses. At startup, legal issues involve selecting a business form (partnership, limited liability company, or corporation), filing articles of incorporation or organization, and obtaining licenses and permits. During operation, a business must comply with antitrust and consumer protection laws, contract law, employment law, environmental law, finance law, and tax law. An attorney's advise and counsel is important from a business's formation and throughout its lifecycle. See Business Enterprises, Business Formation, Business Litigation, Business Planning, Buying and Selling of Business, Closely Held Business Law, Franchises and Franchising, Limited Liability Company Law, Partnership Law, Small Business Law.

Business Litigation: Business litigation covers lawsuits filed by or against a business. Lawsuits that might be filed by a business may include breach of contract, interference with business relationships, unfair trade practices, and trademark or patent infringement. Lawsuits filed against a business might include breach of fiduciary duty, wrongful discharge, false advertising, bad faith, criminal violations, or personal injury. A lawsuit can be avoided by consulting an attorney to ensure regulatory compliance and to limit the risk of exposure to litigation. See Business Law.

Business Planning: Business planning is the process of defining a business, identifying available resources and those that are needed, and stating the goals and the strategies to achieve them. A thorough, comprehensive business plan is essential to obtain financing, manage business operations and finances, market products or services, and evaluate progress. A business attorney can provide advice on any roadblocks or impediments affecting the business plan including liability issues, prohibited business practices, and regulatory compliance issues. See Business Law.

Buying and Selling of Businesses: Buying and selling a business can be structured three ways: A merger, where the selling or target business is merged into the buying or merging corporation; an acquisition, where a larger corporation purchases some or all of a smaller corporation's assets or stock; and a combination, where two or more corporations are combined into a new corporation. A lawyer should structure the transaction to meet the client's objectives while complying with state and federal antitrust, securities, tax, corporate governance, and transaction requirements. See Business Law.

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Child Custody: Child custody laws cover determinations on the care, custody and control of a minor or disabled child after a marriage is terminated or in juvenile dependency cases when the child's parents cannot perform their parental responsibilities or the child was abused or neglected. Custody is determined by the child's best interests. In divorce or dissolution cases, custody is awarded to one parent who is the custodial parent or to both parents under a joint custody or shared parenting plan. An attorney's services are essential in custody disputes. See Family Law.

Child Support: Child support covers the legal obligation of a noncustodial parent to pay a proportionate share of a child's expenses to the custodial parent after a divorce or dissolution. Procedures and guidelines for the determination and calculation of child support are governed by state law. Legal issues include the application of guidelines, determination of imputed income (estimated income for a nonworking parent) and arrearages (unpaid child support) and collection, tax treatment, enforcement, modification or termination of child support awards. See Family Law.

Citizenship: Citizenship concerns the acquisition of United States citizenship including citizenship by birth, by blood or descent, by naturalization, by collective naturalization (citizenship extended to residents of newly acquired territories and possessions) and by derivative naturalization (citizenship acquired by the naturalization of a mother, father or spouse). Legal issues include presumptions of citizenship, criteria and procedures for acquiring citizenship, denaturalization proceedings (revoking citizenship), and judicial review. See Immigration.

Civil Litigation: Civil litigation concerns all lawsuits, cases or disputes other than criminal that are brought before a civil court. Types of lawsuits involved include class action suits, contract disputes, real estate or property disputes, equity issues, constitutional or statutory issues, review of administrative agency decisions and tort claims (civil wrongs or negligence actions.) Legal issues include jurisdiction (authority of the court to hear the dispute), application of court rules and trial procedures, post-trial motions and appellate review. See Litigation.

Civil Rights: Civil rights are individual liberties and privileges guaranteed by federal and state constitutions and statutes. Among our civil rights is the freedom of speech and religion, freedom from unreasonable government intrusions, right to bear arms, right to make contracts, right to a speedy trial, right to due process, right to vote, and right to equal protection. However, certain exceptions to our civil rights are permitted. An unlawful violation of a civil right is cause to seek an attorney to file an action for damages or some other relief.

Class Actions: Class actions are governed by federal and state procedural rules and are intended to reduce litigation costs and avoid conflicting results from separate trials. To have a class action suit, there must be a large number of plaintiffs who share common issues and facts, have typical claims and defenses, and seek equitable relief or money damages. Also, the class must be represented by counsel. If the class is certified or approved, potential class members will be asked to join and litigation continues, usually resulting in a negotiated settlement.

Closely Held Business Law: Closely held business law covers the regulation of business entities called closely held, close hold or S corporations where the shares of stock are held by only a few stockholders and the shares are not traded openly or publicly in a securities market or exchange. Closely held corporations are typically managed by one or more shareholders. Legal issues include formation requirements, shareholder and management duties and obligations, stock valuation, taxation, and the liquidation, dissolution or termination and winding up of corporate affairs. See Business Law.

Collections: Collections law regulates the methods used by debt collectors or debt collection agencies in attempting to collect debts owed by individual debtors or natural persons. Legal issues include statutory compliance requirements, limits on communications with debtors, unfair or prohibited collection practices such as telephone or workplace harassment, misappropriation of collected funds, rights of debtors, discharge of debt liability, and remedies for violations such as compensatory (money) damages, injunctive relief and attorney fees. See Debtor and Creditor.

Commercial Bankruptcy: Commercial bankruptcy covers partnerships or corporation bankruptcies. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation, a trustee sells the business's assets and distributes the proceeds to creditors. The business is discharged or free from liability from nearly all debts. In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy or reorganization, the business reorganizes its debts with creditors in a reorganization plan. The business continues to operate, but creditors may own an interest in the business. A bankruptcy attorney is essential because bankruptcy rules are complex. See Bankruptcy.

Commercial Law: Commercial law concerns the uniform state regulation of commercial transactions including the sale of goods, lease instruments or agreements, negotiable instruments such as bank checks or drafts, installment notes, promissory notes, bills of lading or warehouse receipts, and bank or electronic fund transfers. Legal issues include the liability of the parties, terms and conditions of contracts, agreements and warranties, bulk sales transactions, documents of title, application and construction of laws, validity of transactions, and remedies. See Commercial Litigation.

Commercial Leasing: Commercial leases or subleases, including consumer and finance leases, are governed by state law. A commercial lease is a lease or transfer of possession and use of goods from a lessor or owner to a lessee or possessor. Generally, commercial leases must be in writing and must describe the goods leased and the lease's duration. An attorney should be consulted to review proposed commercial leases and to advise on contract modifications, risk of loss, default or repudiation, delivery problems, warranties, creditor claims, and enforcement.

Commercial Litigation: Commercial litigation concerns the filing and resolution of claims or disputes in commercial transactions that include sales of goods, lease instruments or agreements, negotiable instruments such as bank checks or drafts, installment notes, promissory notes, bills of lading or warehouse receipts, and bank or electronic fund transfers. Legal issues include the liability of the parties, dispute resolution or arbitration procedures, burdens of proof, and available remedies including terminating or enforcing the contract or money damages. See Commercial Law.

Commercial Real Estate: Commercial real estate law regulates the relationships between commercial or business landowners and possession, use, sale, transfer and conveyance of real property that is designated or zoned for commercial or business uses. Legal issues include types and validity of deeds, the rights, duties and liabilities of landowners, legal descriptions and boundaries, permitted commercial or business uses, variance permits, easements and restricted uses, recording and notice requirements, land contracts and leases, and impact of bankruptcy proceedings. See Real Estate.

Communications and Media: Communications and media covers the regulation of radio and television broadcasting companies, cable operators, satellite services, telephony and Internet service providers (ISPs) who provide news and entertainment programming, film, print media, and other communications services. Legal issues include ownership, antitrust, mergers and acquisitions; program production, packaging, transmission, distribution and exhibition; public broadcasting; media content regulations and censorship; and intellectual property and copyright protection. See Libel, Slander and Defamation, Privacy Law.

Complex Litigation: Complex litigation concerns a court or judicial decision to combine or aggregate a large number of lawsuits that involve numerous parties with common or similar claims or interests into a single case. It is a method used by courts to coordinate and control the management of cases in order to reduce duplication, minimize the risk of conflicting treatment or decisions between individual cases, and to avoid unnecessary expenses. Examples of complex litigation are class action suits, multiparty antitrust cases, and toxic tort litigation. See Litigation.

Condominium Law: Condominium law concerns the regulation of the condominium ownership and management including statutory protections and remedies afforded to low and moderate income, elderly and handicapped owners, the operation of condominium associations, the conversion of rental units into condominiums, and the sale and purchase of condominiums. Legal issues include notice requirements of conversions, exemptions and remedies, authority and membership of associations, tenant protections, validity of deeds and contracts, and termination or abandonment issues. See Real Estate.

Construction Accidents: Construction accidents concern civil suits or actions for personal injuries or property damages that arise or occur during the construction of structures or buildings. Legal issues include landowner, general contractor and subcontractor liability under construction contracts or for presence of construction defects or dangerous conditions, injuries by intentional, accidental means or negligence, liability insurance or workers compensation coverage or claims, burdens of proof and availability of money, compensatory or punitive damages. See Construction Law.

Construction Defects: Construction defects concern civil suits or actions on defects or defective performance in the design or construction of buildings and structures by architects, general contractors and subcontractors including carpenters, brick layers or masons, electricians, plumbers, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) specialists, and landscapers. Legal issues include duties and liabilities for contract performance, errors in design or specifications, breach of construction contracts and subcontracts, unjust enrichment and measure of damages. See Construction Law.

Construction Law: Construction law concerns contracts for the design, building, construction or development of real estate and structures and the relationship between construction professionals (general contractors and subcontractors) and private landowners. Legal issues include duties and liabilities of general contractors and subcontractors, reliance on bids, rights to compensation, enforcement of indemnity agreements, breach of contract, design and construction defects, unjust enrichment, contract changes or modifications and mechanics' liens. See Construction Accidents, Construction Defects.

Consumer Bankruptcy: Consumer bankruptcy covers the bankruptcy of individuals. An individual may qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or reorganization in which debts and a repayment plan are negotiated with creditors. Individuals usually obtain a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or individual debt adjustment plan in which debts are adjusted in a 3 or 5-year plan. A trustee uses a portion of the individual's disposable income to makes payments according to the plan, and most of the remaining debt is discharged. A bankruptcy lawyer is essential throughout the bankruptcy process. See Bankruptcy.

Consumer Fraud: Consumer fraud concerns civil suits or actions against business or commercial entities for the intentional use of coercion, deceit or misrepresentations and unfair, false or deceptive trade practices, advertising or telemarketing schemes in the marketing, solicitation, labeling or sales of consumer products and services. Legal issues include required claim or complaint procedures such as arbitration or administrative agency procedures, statutory violations, burdens of proof and availability of money, compensatory or punitive damages. See Consumer Law.

Consumer Law: Consumer laws and regulations are designed to protect people who buy or use products or services from unfair and deceptive practices employed by manufacturers or sellers. Some laws cover a range of prohibited practices such as misrepresentations about the product and the use of false or misleading trade names, labels, and advertising. Other laws provide specific protections such as lemon laws that protect against poorly made automobiles. Most consumer laws have complex enforcement and recovery procedures that are better handled by attorneys. See Consumer Fraud, Lemon Law, Warranty Law.

Contracts: A contract is an exchange of promises between parties that becomes a legally binding obligation and can be enforced in a court of law. In addition, each party must be legally competent or have legal capacity to make a contract and must consent or agree to the contract's terms. Generally, contracts that concern land or that may take more than one year to perform must be in writing. An attorney can provide advice on contract rules that apply to unclear or ambiguous terms, illegal subject matter, modifications, breach of contract, and remedies.

Copyrights: Copyright law concerns regulations governing the registration, maintenance, transfer and enforcement of copyrights under federal and international law. Legal issues include the nature and scope of copyright protections, burdens of proof, defenses and available remedies in infringement actions, criminal copyright infringement, civil liability and the availability and measure of damages or injunctive relief, copyright licensing, assignment and transfer rights and formality requirements, and copyright duration and renewal. See Intellectual Property.

Corporate Law: Corporate law covers the corporate formation, management, and dissolution including mergers and acquisitions. Corporate forms include general corporations, closely held corporations, professional corporations, nonprofit corporations, and corporations for a specific purpose. Ownership interest is usually in the form of shares of stock. A corporation must adopt articles of incorporation, which identifies its purpose and governs its meetings and board elections. Attorneys provide advice on corporate formation, governance, and compliance issues.

Creditors Rights: Creditors' rights concern the application of contract law and state law to protect the interests of creditors or secured parties in commercial loans, secured transactions, installment contracts, promissory notes and consumer credit cards. Legal issues include attachment, perfection and priority of security interests or collateral or other debtor assets upon default or bankruptcy, foreclosure procedures and public sales or auctions, negotiation and settlement, deficiency judgments, and attachment and garnishment proceedings and repossessions. See Debtor and Creditor.

Criminal Law: Criminal or penal law covers misdemeanor (minor) and felony (major) criminal offenses and the rules and procedures of the criminal justice process including arrest, arraignment, bail, guilty pleas and plea agreements, preliminary hearings, jury trials, sentencing, probation, parole, appeals, and other post-conviction relief. Constitutional protections to the accused include the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, and the right to a fair and speedy trial. An accused should always seek counsel if charged with a criminal offense. See DUI/DWI, Expungements, Felonies, Homicide, Juvenile Law, Misdemeanors, Parole and Probation, Sex Crimes, Theft, Traffic Violations, Weapons Charges.

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DUI/DWI: DUI/DWI means driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated. Drunk driving statutes make it a criminal offense to operate a vehicle in a public place with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above a certain level, usually 0.10, or while under the influence of drugs. An accused may be charged based on a law enforcement officer's observations or sobriety test results. Sentencing includes fines, license suspension, counseling, probation, community service, or jail time that will be enhanced if an accident with injuries or death occurs. See Criminal Law.

Debtor and Creditor: Debtor and creditor relations concern contract law and state law governing commercial loans and consumer credit including secured transactions, purchase money loans, retail installment contracts, promissory notes and credit cards. Legal issues include agreement terms and conditions, attachment and perfection of security interests or collateral, default of debtors, notice and disclosure requirements, foreclosures and public sales, repossession, redemption (debtor payments after default), creditor misconduct or misbehavior and available remedies. See Collections, Creditors Rights.

Dental Malpractice: Dental malpractice concerns the civil or tort liability of dentists, oral surgeons and orthodontists for wrongful acts or omissions, negligence or misconduct during the performance of professional services. Legal issues include statute of limitations (time limits to file suits), dentists' duties and obligations, proof of misconduct or negligence, expert witness or testimony, standard of care within the dental community, the measure of injuries or damages, informed consent and the vicarious liability or liability of dentist's employer. See Medical Malpractice.

Discrimination: Discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender or sex, and disability is generally prohibited under federal and state laws in education and employment, in contractual, housing and property transactions, and in any government assisted program. Legal issues include nature and extent of prohibited conduct, burdens of proof, required administrative or claim procedures, excluded or exempted coverage, prohibitions against sexual harassment and retaliation, and available injunctive relief or money damages. See Labor and Employment.

Divorce: Divorce law covers the termination of a marriage by divorce, dissolution or annulment and determinations on child custody, child support, spousal support and the division of marital property and assets including pension or retirement plans or savings and family business interests. Legal issues include jurisdiction and venue, procedure and grounds for divorce such as adultery, mental cruelty, abandonment, irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, custody and support, and separation or property division agreements. See Family Law.

Dog Bites: Dog bite claims are personal injury lawsuits or actions brought against dog owners to recover money or compensable damages for injuries, medical expenses and pain and suffering incurred from dog bites or attacks. Statutes governing dog bites or attacks from wild or abnormally dangerous animals vary between states. Some states impose strict liability (liability without fault); other states require proof that the dog is dangerous or vicious. Legal issues include proof of liability, provocation or trespass by the victim and the measure of damages. See Personal Injury.

Domestic Violence: Domestic violence involves abuse or abusive behavior between family members including parents, spouses, former spouses, children, stepchildren, blood relatives, and persons who live together. The victim of domestic violence can seek a temporary restraining or protection order (including custody) from a court without notice to the abuser or without the abuser being present. Some courts provide assistance in obtaining a protection order. A violation of the order may be treated as a criminal offense or criminal contempt. See Family Law.

Drug Crimes: Drug crimes are criminal offenses that involve the possession, use, manufacture, sale, distribution, or trafficking of controlled substances such as heroin, marijuana, opium, cocaine and other scheduled narcotics listed in the federal drug classification statute. Some drug possession offenses are classified as misdemeanors while multiple possession convictions and drug sales and trafficking offenses are felonies. Prison sentences vary depending on cooperation with authorities, any violence involved, and defendant's criminal history. See Criminal Law.

Drug and Medical Device Litigation: Drug and medical device litigation concerns the liability of manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, pharmacists or sellers of tainted or adulterated pharmaceuticals or prescription medication and defective medical devices that harm or injure patients, consumers or users. Types of claims or lawsuits include breach of warranty, negligence, false representations and failure of the duty to warn. Legal issues include time limits to file actions, jurisdiction, civil and statutory duties and liability, burdens of proof and measure of damages. See Products Liability.

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E-Commerce: E-commerce, e-business, or electronic commerce law covers the regulation of electronic transactions or contracts over the Internet including the delivery of proprietary data for a fee, the delivery of goods and services, electronic communications or e-mal between buyers and sellers, and other business transactions. Legal issues include security management, privacy safeguards, unsolicited commercial e-mails, disclosure requirements, electronic transaction authentication, electronic signature certifications, and application of commercial codes. See Internet Law.

ERISA: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates certain types of group or employer-sponsored health insurance plans, employee benefit or welfare plans and private pension or retirement plans. Legal issues include plan administration and fiduciary duties and liabilities, claim practices and procedures, claim denials, dispute resolution, arbitration or administrative review or appeal procedures, financing and contribution requirements, trust requirements, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and available remedies or penalties. See Employee Benefits.

Education Law: Education law concerns the regulation of public and private schools, educational institutions, facilities and education requirements including school board and school district administration and operations, required curricula and instruction methods, athletic and extracurricular activities, discrimination and liability and faculty, staff and student relations. Legal liabilities include statutory compliance, disciplinary proceedings, liability for damages or injuries, immunity protections, contract disputes, student conduct and privacy concerns. See School Law, Special Education.

Elder Law: Elder law concerns welfare programs, services and protections afforded to elderly persons or senior citizens including healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, social service, rehabilitation and housing programs, and adult protective services. Legal issues include duties of relatives and family members, discrimination, entitlement and benefit determinations, protection and advocacy, dispute resolution procedures or administrative proceedings, disclosure and reporting requirements, and information and medical records privacy.

Eminent Domain: Condominium law concerns the regulation of the condominium ownership and management including statutory protections and remedies afforded to low and moderate income, elderly and handicapped owners, the operation of condominium associations, the conversion of rental units into condominiums, and the sale and purchase of condominiums. Legal issues include notice requirements of conversions, exemptions and remedies, authority and membership of associations, tenant protections, validity of deeds and contracts, and termination or abandonment issues.

Employee Benefits: Employee benefits concern the regulation of group health or healthcare plans, group life insurance, pensions, retirement plans, employer managed individual retirement accounts (IRAs), profit sharing plans and other employee welfare and benefit plans that are used in compensating managers and employees. Legal issues include employee contributions accrual, vesting and distribution of benefits, benefits or plan administration, employee accounts administration and reporting, notice and disclosure requirements, and tax liability or consequences. See ERISA.

Employment Contracts: Employment contracts concern employment relationships that are governed by express (written) or implied contracts or agreements including the terms and conditions of employment and the application of the statute of frauds as to whether the contract must be in writing. Legal issues include the facts and surrounding circumstances for an implied contract, claims and evidence of an express or constructive breach of contract, dispute resolution or arbitration requirements, construction of terms and conditions, and available remedies. See Labor and Employment.

Entertainment Law: Entertainment law concerns the regulation of contracts relating to the entertainment and performance arts including the visual arts, cinemas, motion pictures or movies, radio, television, music, publishing and theatre or theater. Legal issues include the proper application of labor and employment law, intellectual property law and personal services contract law, contract terms and conditions, trade unions, industry custom and usage, breach of contract claims and remedies, and dispute resolution or arbitration requirements.

Environmental Law: Environmental law concerns the federal and state regulatory protections afforded to wildlife, land, air and water quality including the establishment of air and water quality controls, scenic rivers, forest and wildlife preservation, pollution abatement or reduction programs, clean up and impact assessments, and land use zoning. Legal issues include administrative proceedings, enforcement of air quality, emission, and pollution control standards, hazardous waste disposal and cleanup, permit violations, civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.

Estate Litigation: Estate litigation concerns civil actions, lawsuits, or claims brought in probate against a decedent's estate including creditor claims, claims challenging the validity of a will or bequests, mortgagee claims, government claims and tax liens. Legal issues include notice and priority of claims, time limits for claim presentation, powers of administrators or executors, rejection or disallowance of claims, rules governing disposition of estate property or assets, probate and ancillary proceedings, and testamentary capacity and formalities. See Trusts and Estates.

Estate Planning: Estate planning concerns the legal strategies and techniques to accumulate and dispose of an individual's estate or property by testamentary wills or other instruments, trusts, charitable bequests or gifts, and inter vivos transfers or conveyances during the lifetime. Legal issues include formalities of wills or trusts, community property and tax issues, nature and validity of trusts, transfers, conveyances and gifts, duties and liabilities of trustees, executors, administrators or personal representative, and probate practices and procedures. See Trusts and Estates.

Estate and Gift Taxation: Estate and gift taxes or transfer taxes are also called inheritance or death taxes that imposed upon the death of a person and are assessed upon the value of the decedent's property and assets less authorized expense, charitable or marital deductions. Gift taxes are imposed on gifts, donations, or charitable transfers of property during a person's lifetime. Attorneys provide advice on tax avoidance techniques, exemptions and credits or legal ways to protect a person's assets from taxation or to minimize a person's estate or gift tax liability. See Taxation.

Expungements: An expungement or expunction protects the right to privacy by impounding or sealing a person's criminal records or history if the person was acquitted, released without being convicted, or pardoned after being convicted. A person granted an expungement need not disclose the offense with potential employers, and the expunged prior arrest or conviction will not be disclosed in a records check. A person should seek an attorney to obtain an expungement because the rules, scope of coverage, procedures, and protections vary by state and federal laws. See Criminal Law.

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Family Law: Family law covers the state regulation of family relationships including spouses, parents, children, guardians, wards and domestic partners. Family law may be divided into domestic relations covering marital and domestic partner relationships and juvenile law covering juvenile delinquency (criminal offenders) and dependency (truancy, runaways and unruly, abused or neglected children). Legal issues include marriage, domestic violence, divorce, child custody, marital property rights, paternity, parental rights and obligations and juvenile issues. See Adoptions, Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Paternity, Premarital Agreements, Spousal Support, Visitation Rights.

Family and Medical Leave Act: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and comparable state laws entitle eligible employees to take an unpaid leave of absence from their employment for certain family and medical reasons such as newborn children, adoptions, foster children or for a serious illness requiring continuing treatment. Legal issues include eligibility or entitlement to the leave of absence, notice requirements and actions or remedies for employer violations including money damages, back pay and equitable relief. See Labor and Employment.

Felonies: Felonies are criminal offenses that carry a prison sentence of more than one year or death. Examples of felony crimes are murder or criminal homicide, burglary, arson, rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking, racketeering, criminal fraud, securities fraud and embezzlement. Legal issues concern jurisdiction, application of criminal procedures including pretrial motions and hearings, plea bargaining, bail, fair trial, burden of proof, available defenses, right to counsel, sentencing, probation, parole and post-conviction relief. See Criminal Law.

Finance: Finance law concerns the regulation of personal, business and government financing practices and procedures. Personal financing includes the purchase, sale or transfer of real and personal property. Business financing includes the management of dividends, stock subscriptions or trading and initial capitalization. Government financing includes the power to levy and collect taxes, issue bonds, make contracts and incur debt. Legal issues include authority, liability and accountability, audit practices, internal controls and statutory compliance.

Financial Services Law: Financial services law generally covers loan and account services. Deposit accounts include checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposits, or other investment services. Commercial, installment, and personal loans finance businesses, real estate, education, automobiles, and securities. An attorney can review loan documents, financing or collateral statements, and promissory notes or provide advise on investment or loan options, hidden fees and penalties, asset protection, default terms, accelerated payment terms, and liability issues. See Investments.

Foreclosures: Foreclosures are civil or equitable default actions brought by a lender or mortgagee to end the legal interest of a borrower or mortgagor in real estate or property and to convey title to the lender due to nonpayment or breach of a mortgage. The lender then sells the property at a public sale or auction to recover the mortgage debt and may obtain a deficiency judgment against the borrower for the unpaid balance of the mortgage. Legal issues include notice and due process protections and judicial, nonjudicial and statutory foreclosure proceedings. See Bankruptcy.

Franchises and Franchising: A franchise is a business arrangement whereby a franchisee agrees to pay a fee and a share of the profits to a franchisor in return for operating a business under the franchisor's name. The major benefit of a franchise is a proven product or service that has instant name recognition. The major drawback is that the franchisor may control how the business is run or impose territorial restrictions. An attorney should be consulted to review proposed franchise agreements to ensure statutory and regulatory compliance and to protect client interests. See Business Law.

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General Practice: General practice concerns the attorney practice of law in more than one professional specialty such as business law, corporate law, criminal law, employment law, personal injury law, malpractice law and probate law. Legal issues include attorney registration and licensing, client funds management and accountability, professional liability or malpractice insurance requirements, professional responsibility and legal ethics, duties and responsibilities, continuing legal education requirements, and disciplinary practices and procedures.

Green Cards: Green cards or lawful permanent residence (LPR) cards concern the official immigration status given to immigrants that permits them to permanently reside in the United States. Legal issues involved in obtaining a permanent residence card include the immigrant visa application or petition process and the green card eligibility requirements and approval process. See Immigration.

Guardianship and Conservatorship: Guardianship or conservatorship concerns the legal appointment of a competent adult as guardian, guardian ad litem or conservator to assume the legal responsibility for a ward (a minor or incompetent or incapacitated adult) and the ward's estate. Legal issues include eligibility and applications for appointment, contested or involuntary appointments, performance or exercise of a guardian's fiduciary duties or obligations to the ward, breach of fiduciary duties, guardian's accounting of estate assets and termination of a guardianship. See Trusts and Estates.

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Head and Spinal Injuries: Head and spinal injury cases concern tort (civil wrong) or personal injury claims or actions seeking a recovery of money damages for injuries sustained to the head (concussions or brain damage) or spinal chord (cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacral regions). Legal issues include time limits to file suit, nature and extent of injuries, employer liability, medical malpractice or accidental injury, expert testimony or witness, proof of liability, negligence or misconduct, degree of comparative or contributory negligence and the measure of damages. See Personal Injury.

Health Care: Health care law concerns the regulation of hospitals, healthcare facilities, health maintenance organizations and health care professionals such as doctors, physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and other health care practitioners. Legal issues include accreditation, licensing, certification and registration requirements, antitrust matters and unfair trade practices, health insurance or managed care plans, claims practices and procedures, peer review or utilization review procedures, and alternative medical treatments. See Health Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

Health Insurance: Health insurance concerns the federal and state regulation of individual and group health or healthcare plans including indemnity or fee-for-service, accident and sickness, medical service, hospitalization, dental care, vision care and managed care plans, home health agencies, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Legal issues include benefits and claims administration, denial of coverage or claims, treatment of preexisting conditions, discriminatory practices, medical necessity, experimental treatments and utilization review procedures. See Health Care.

Homeowners Association Law: Homeowners association law concerns the regulation of associations that manage common interest communities or multiple housing units or developments including condominiums and timeshares. Legal issues include the duties, rights and liabilities of unit owners, the terms and conditions of the association's agreement or contract, interpretation and enforcement of community rules and regulations including assessment of penalties, the collection of common or periodic expenses and assessments, and dispute resolution procedures. See Real Estate.

Homicide: Criminal homicide is the unlawful killing of a person by another and has varying classifications. First degree or capital murder is a premeditated or intentional killing or murder with malice aforethought. First degree, voluntary or intentional manslaughter is murder caused by extenuating circumstances such as heat of passion or provocation. Other classifications are negligent or reckless homicide, felony murder, vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter. Defenses include self-defense, defense of others, insanity or diminished capacity. See Criminal Law.

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Immigration: Immigration law concerns the regulation and control of aliens, noncitizens or immigrants and includes the admission and removal of aliens or foreigners, visa categories (permission for extended stays in the US), asylum (refuge), naturalization (citizenship process), immigration crimes, denaturalization (loss of citizenship) and deportation. Legal issues include visa and permanent residency application and revocation process, asylum procedures and remedies, naturalization or citizenship procedures, denaturalization and deportation procedures. See Citizenship, Green Cards.

Income Tax: Income tax law covers federal, state and local taxation of any income received by individuals and businesses from wages, salaries, net profits, interest or dividends, pension or retirement funds and capital gains realized from the sale of property and securities. Legal issues include type of income subject to taxation, exemptions and deductions, payroll withholding or payment obligations, tax reporting or form filing, availability of tax credits, tax planning, accounting, calculating and audits, failure to pay taxes and assessment of penalties. See Taxation.

Insurance: Insurance law concerns the regulation of the insurance industry including insurer (carrier) and producer (agents and brokers) licensing or certification and approval of types of insurance policies or plans covering life, health or managed care, property and casualty lines of business. Legal issues include policy application processing, disclosure requirements, coverage disputes, information privacy, claims handling or processing, dispute resolution, prompt payment laws, premium notices and collection practices, insurer solvency or insolvency. See Automobile Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, Life and Health Insurance, Property Insurance.

Insurance Bad Faith: Insurance bad faith is the tort liability (civil or private wrongs) of an insurance company (insurer or carrier) for the breach of their covenant or duty of good faith in dealing fairly with insured persons or persons entitled to benefits under insurance policies or contracts. Legal issues include claims handling and processing, dispute resolution procedures, prompt pay laws, failure to settle or pay claims, denial of claims, third-party actions or claims, refusal to defend or indemnify, assignment of bad of faith claims and available remedies. See Insurance.

Intellectual Property: Intellectual property law concerns the federal and state antitrust and protective regulations afforded to intellectual property including copyrights, patents, inventions, trademarks and trade secrets. Legal issues include application, registration and licensing requirements, misuse, misappropriation, infringement and fraudulent procurement actions, anticompetitive activity, ownership, licensing and transfer rights, burdens of proof, expert testimony, available defenses and remedies including the measure of damages. See Copyrights, Intellectual Property Licensing, Patents, Trade Secrets, Trademarks.

Intellectual Property Licensing: Intellectual property licensing concerns the application of antitrust laws to the ownership or transfer of licenses of intellectual property including copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Legal issues include licensing requirements and procedures, conveyances and transfers of the right of use, formalities and requirements of licensing agreements and exclusive licenses, the rights and obligations of the parties, actions for breach of licensing agreements, availability of remedies including injunctive relief and the measure of damages. See Intellectual Property.

Internet Law: Internet or cyber law covers the cyberspace or the structure and content of Internet communications and services, electronic or e-commerce transactions, and Internet service providers (ISPs). Internet structure legal issues include access, competition, discrimination, security and framework of e-commerce transactions, ISP licensing and antitrust activity. Internet content legal issues include storage, distribution and security of proprietary and personal data, defamation, censorship, copyright and trademark infringement and streaming videos. See E-Commerce.

Investments: Investments concern the regulation and protections afforded to investments involving the purchase or buying of property or securities to raise money or capital or increase income. Types of investments include purchases of shares of stock, investment bonds, real estate, precious metals and stones such as gold, silver and diamonds, collectible personal property such as art. Legal issues include terms and conditions of investment contracts, statutory compliance, investor protections, disclosure requirements, prohibited or fraudulent transactions. See Financial Services Law.

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Juvenile Law: Juvenile law covers the rules and procedures for dealing with juvenile delinquency, status offenses or dependency. In delinquency or youthful offender proceedings, an adjudicatory hearing is held. If adjudicated a delinquent, the juvenile is sent to a detention facility or is ordered to pay restitution or receive counseling or probation. In juvenile status proceedings, such as truancy or runaways, and in dependency proceedings where abuse, neglect, or abandonment is charged, the focus is the juvenile's health, safety, and placement or custody. See Criminal Law.

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Labor and Employment: Labor and employment law concerns the regulation of labor relations and employment issues including employment at will, employment contracts, collective bargaining, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation and whistleblowing protections, occupational safety and wage and hour rules. Legal issues include terms and conditions of employment, wage and salary requirements, employment benefits, affirmative action plans, disclosure and privacy issues, vacation and leave policies, dispute resolution procedures, safety and health issues. See Americans with Disabilities Act, Discrimination, Employment Contracts, Family and Medical Leave Act, Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), Sexual Harassment, Wage and Hour Law, Whistleblower Litigation, Wrongful Termination.

Landlord and Tenant Law: Landlord and tenant law varies between states and regulates the duties and obligations of landlords (lessors) and tenants (lessees) and the content of lease or rental agreements including rent control provisions and remedies for breach or statutory violations. Legal issues include landlord rights to make repairs, inspect and maintain the property or guard against default including forcible entry and detainer (eviction) actions, tenant rights to privacy and quiet enjoyment of the property, abandonment or holding over issues and illegal activity.

Law Enforcement: Law enforcement concerns the regulations governing the recruitment, selection, duties, obligations and liabilities of members and officers of law enforcement agencies including state and local police, sheriff's deputies, state troopers and highway patrol officers. Legal issues include unethical conduct or misconduct such as excessive use of force, deprivation of civil liberties or misuse of authority, civil service protections, disciplinary actions and hearings, civil liabilities and vicarious (employer) liability and available remedies.

Lead Poisoning: Lead poisoning litigation concerns toxic tort lawsuits or claims wherein landlords or lessors are held strictly liable (liable without fault) for the sickness or illness of tenants or lessees, particularly children, caused by lead poisoning from lead-based paint. Lead poisoning claims may also be brought against employers by employees who work in lead refining or manufacturing plants. Legal issues include degree or level of lead toxicity, timely filing of claims and assumption of the risk or comparative fault or negligence. See Toxic Torts.

Legal Malpractice: Legal malpractice concerns civil or tort liability of attorneys for wrongful acts or omissions, negligence or misconduct committed while in the performance of professional services or while representing clients. Legal issues include the statute of limitations (time limits to file suit), attorney's duties and obligations owed by the attorney, standard of care expected from a reasonable attorney, expert testimony or witness, proof of negligence, misconduct, breach of duty and the measure of damages caused by the attorney's errors or misconduct.

Lemon Law: A "lemon" law provides protection to the purchaser of a new vehicle that remains defective after attempts at repair have failed. Once a vehicle is found to be a lemon, the purchaser is entitled to a replacement vehicle from the manufacturer or to return the vehicle and receive a refund. A purchaser of a lemon should seek an attorney because lemon laws usually require that a certain number of unsuccessful repair attempts within a given time period and require that specific steps or procedures be followed before a lawsuit can be filed. See Consumer Law.

Libel, Slander and Defamation: Libel, slander and defamation of character are tort claims (civil or private wrongs) that permit a recovery for damages caused by making or publishing false oral or written statements or factual misrepresentations about a person's reputation. Legal issues include the nature of the publication, whether the victim is a private person or a public or political figure, whether the false publication is made with knowledge or malice, the burdens of proof, the availability of defenses (truth, privilege or opinion) and the measure of damages. See Communications and Media.

Life and Health Insurance: Life and health insurance policies are contracts regulated by the state and insure against sickness, bodily injury or death. Life and health contracts including group plans and managed care plans vary widely in the amount and type of benefits provided. Legal issues include premium and cancellation notices, proof of loss, injury or death, timely submission and payment of claims, disclosure requirements, claim processing and review procedures, coinsurance or deductibles, portability (continued coverage between jobs) and preexisting conditions. See Insurance.

Limited Liability Company Law: A limited liability company (LLC) is a business form that incorporates the benefits of limited partnerships and closely held or S corporations. Like a limited partnership, LLC members enjoy limited liability; members are liable to creditors only to the amount of their capital contributions. Like S corporations, LLC members can participate in management. Unlike a corporation, an LLC need not have a board of directors, issue stock, or hold meetings. A business attorney should be consulted in the formation, operation, and dissolution of an LLC. See Business Law.

Litigation: Litigation concerns all lawsuits, cases or disputes other than criminal that are brought before a civil court. Types of lawsuits involved include class action suits, complex litigation, contract disputes, real estate or property disputes, equity issues, constitutional issues, review of administrative agency decisions and tort claims (civil wrongs or negligence actions.) Legal issues include jurisdiction (authority of the court to hear the dispute), application of court rules and trial procedures, post-trial motions and appellate review. See Civil Litigation, Complex Litigation.

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Maritime Personal Injury: Maritime personal injury law covers disputes or claims from passengers, crew, seamen, longshore workers, harbor workers, offshore oil rig workers, or other maritime workers who suffered an injury or even death as the result of an intentional, reckless, or negligent act (known as a tort) or accident while at sea or in coastal waters onboard a ship or barge, an offshore oil rig, or during docking and loading or unloading operations at a harbor or port. Legal issues include time limits to file suit, burdens of proof, and the measure of damages. See Admiralty and Maritime Law.

Mediation: Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method where parties attempt to resolve their dispute with a mediator. Mediation is preferred when the parties want to continue relations, control the dispute resolution process, or maintain their privacy. The mediator attempts an informal disclosure of information and an understanding of each party's position to move them towards a mutual resolution or settlement of the dispute. An attorney can provide advice during the process and help uncover or assess facts for use at trial if mediation fails. See Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice concerns the civil or tort liability of medical or healthcare professionals, physicians, doctors, surgeons or nurses for wrongful acts or omissions, negligence or misconduct during the performance of professional services. Legal issues include statute of limitations (time limits to file suits), physicians' duties and obligations, the standard of care within the medical community, expert testimony or witness, the measure of injuries or damages, informed consent and the vicarious liability or liability of physician's employer. See Birth Injuries, Medical Malpractice.

Medicare and Medicaid: Medicare and Medicaid are government insurance programs financed by state and federal governments, although Medicaid is administered by the states. Both programs provide medical services or services to eligible individuals; Medicaid provides coverage to indigent or needy individuals or families and Medicare provides coverage to individuals with qualified disabilities or over age 65. Legal issues include eligibility, claim review procedures, the denial, reduction, suspension or termination of benefits, and interpretation of rules or regulations. See Health Care.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures: Mergers, acquisitions and divestitures cover the succession, takeover, consolidation, purchase, or sale of all or part of the assets or stock of a corporation or enterprise by another corporation. Mergers and acquisitions are guided by state law but must comply with federal antitrust, corporate conduct, securities, labor and employment, and tax laws. An attorney's participation is vital to ensure compliance with state and federal law, to coordinate investigations and analyses, to draft and implement the contract and required legal documents.

Military Law: Military law concerns the government's power and authority to organize and operate the armed forces, the administration of military justice, and the administration of veterans' affairs or benefit programs and services. Legal issues include application and interpretation of constitutional and statutory law and Department of Defense and military services' manuals, directives, rules and regulations including the Uniform Code of Military Justice, administrative procedures, jurisdiction, and courts-martial practice, procedures and defenses.

Misdemeanors: Misdemeanors are minor crimes that are punishable by the imposition of a fine or a confinement period of six months or less that is usually served in a local jail. Examples of misdemeanor offenses include possession of small amounts of minor drugs or controlled substances such as marijuana, disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace and most traffic violations or offenses. Persons accused of misdemeanors are afforded the same rights and protections as those accused of felonies such as a fair trial and a right to counsel or legal representation. See Criminal Law.

Mold Litigation: Mold litigation concerns toxic tort (private or civil wrong) or bio-aerosol containment lawsuits or actions that is brought against employers or manufacturers and suppliers of building materials to recover for personal injuries, sickness or disease and property damage caused by toxic mold, toxic fungi or "sick building" syndrome. Legal issues include environmental or work place standards, potentially responsible parties, insurance coverage, administrative procedures, mass tort actions or class actions and measure of damages. See Toxic Torts.

Mortgages: Mortgage law concerns the regulation of mortgage loans, loans with real estate as collateral, or security instruments or liens on real property including mortgage liens, deeds of trust and mortgage assignments or conveyances. Legal issues include notice and full disclosure requirements, the nature and type of mortgage loans and interest rates, deficiencies or problems in executing or processing the application or mortgage instrument, insurance requirements, foreclosure or termination procedures, and redemption (payment after default). See Banking Law.

Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcycle accidents concern the tort liability (liability for private or civil wrongs) of owners and operators of motorcycles for property damage, personal injuries and death resulting auto accidents or collisions. Legal issues include the duties owed by owners and operators or drivers of motorcycles, extent of property damage, injuries or deaths, insurance coverage limitations and restrictions, and degree of fault including contributory or comparative negligence. See Personal Injury.

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Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations: Nonprofit organizations consist of charitable, educational, literary, scientific, fraternal, religious, recreational, or other nonprofit corporations. Nonprofit corporations may conduct profit making activities so long as members do not share in the profits. Although a nonprofit corporation does not issue stock, laws regarding its formation and governance are similar to those for general corporations. A business attorney should be consulted on forming a nonprofit corporation, ensuring regulatory compliance, and protecting the tax exempt status.

Nursing Home Litigation: Nursing home litigation concerns the liability of nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities for the care and treatment afforded to patients. Types of nursing home facilities include convalescent centers, long term care facilities, residential care facilities and retirement community centers. Legal issues include time limits for filing claims or suits, statutory and civil duties and liabilities, negligence or misconduct, standards of care, expert testimony or witness, administrative procedures, immunities or defenses, and measure of damages. See Personal Injury.

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Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA): The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulates occupational and safety practices in the workplace and imposes civil and criminal penalties and civil liability upon employers for violations of any statutory or regulatory requirements. Legal issues include administrative, rulemaking and enforcement procedures, safety and health regulations and standards, workplace inspections, violations or citations, burden of proof, nature and extent of employer negligence or liability, and review of administrative decisions. See Labor and Employment.

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Parole and Probation: Parole and probation are concerned with a convicted criminal defendant's limited or conditioned freedom from incarceration or imprisonment. Parole is a convict's release from imprisonment after serving a portion of a prison sentence. Probation is a sentencing alternative in which the convicted defendant is placed in the community but under supervision for a period of time. Legal issues include parole or probation violations and revocation and resentencing proceedings, usually resulting in the imposition of a prison sentence. See Criminal Law.

Partnership Law: Partnership law covers partnership formation, management and property, the rights, duties and liabilities of general partners and limited partners, and termination of the partnership. Partnership law also applies to joint ventures, a form of partnership. A business attorney should be consulted on partnership agreements including buy-sell provisions, capital contributions, partnership governance, rights and interests of partners, liability issues, the withdrawal of partners, tax issues, and termination or winding up of partnership affairs. See Business Law.

Patents: Patent law concerns the regulation of the rights to patents or inventions including ownership and transfer rights, licensing agreements, patentable subject matter, patent infringement, and statutory bars or prohibitions. Legal issues include terms, conditions and duration of conveyances, transfers and licensing agreements, patent claim description and specification requirements, application and registration requirements, ethical standards and conduct, patent disputes and infringement actions, administrative procedures and available remedies. See Intellectual Property.

Paternity: Paternity suits or actions are regulated by state law and are intended to determine the parentage of a child for the purpose of determining custody or heredity or to secure or obtain child support. Legal issues include paternity proceedings, presumptive rules of paternity or parentage, burdens of proof, rebuttal evidence to establish nonpaternity, use of blood and genetic or DNA testing and standards of review. See Family Law.

Personal Injury: Personal injury law concern the recovery of money or monetary damages as compensation for physical or psychological damages suffered by a person that results from tortuous conduct or a private or civil wrong or injury caused by another person or entity. Recoverable damages typically include medical expenses, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium (loss of spousal companionship). Legal issues include proof of liability or misconduct, scope and extent of injuries and proof of damages. See Automobile Accidents, Dog Bites, Head and Spinal Injuries, Motorcycle Accidents, Nursing Home Litigation, Railroad Accidents, Sexual Abuse, Slip and Fall, Trucking Accidents, Wrongful Death.

Police Misconduct: Police misconduct concerns criminal offenses relating to the abuse of public office and violations of statutes or regulations governing the exercise or performance of law enforcement duties and responsibilities. Types of unethical conduct or misconduct include excessive use of force, unlawful searches and seizures, false arrest, failure to render medical aid or prevent suicide, and deprivation of civil rights. Legal issues include standards of conduct and police procedures, disciplinary actions, procedures and penalties and civil liability. See Law Enforcement.

Premarital Agreements: Premarital or prenuptial or antenuptial agreements (prenups) are contracts between spouses made or executed prior to marriage for the purpose of dividing property or assets and providing for spousal support in the event of divorce or death of a death of a spouse. Legal issues include capacity and voluntariness of the parties, full and adequate disclosure requirements, waiver of rights, burdens of proof, defenses of nondisclosure, misrepresentation, fraud, undue influence or overreaching, statutory compliance and enforcement. See Family Law.

Privacy Law: Privacy law covers two important interests, avoiding the disclosure of personal information and making certain kinds of decisions free from intrusion. Our federal constitution recognizes a right to privacy in raising families and other privacy matters. Statutes provide privacy protection to medical, credit and financial information, school and employment records, and communications. Other statutes permit governmental intrusions of private matters. An attorney should be consulted when certain invasions of privacy can be the cause of lawsuits. See Communications and Media.

Products Liability: Products liability concerns the responsibility of manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers or sellers of defective products that harm or injure consumers or users. Types of claims or lawsuits brought include breach of warranty, negligence, fraud, deceit or false representations and failure of the duty to give adequate warnings. Legal issues include time limits to file actions, jurisdiction, civil and statutory duties and liabilities, evidence of injuries, burdens of proof, comparative or contributory negligence, and measure of damages. See Drug and Medical Device Litigation.

Property Insurance: Property insurance concerns the regulation of insurance companies (carriers) and producers (agents and brokers) in providing property insurance including inland marine, homeowners, building or construction, dwelling, renters, catastrophe (earth movement, wind storm or hurricane) and flood policies. Legal issues include policy cancellations, proof of loss and claim notices, claims adjustment, settlement and dispute procedures, repair or replacement cost determinations, coverage limitations and exclusions, and validity of insurable interests. See Insurance.

Property Tax: Property tax law concerns state and local taxation of real estate and personal property or ad valorem taxes. Legal issues include the assessment, valuation and collection of taxes, exemptions given to property owned by religious, hospital, scientific, educational or other nonprofit organizations, taxation of tangible and intangible personal property, limitations on the imposition of taxes, assessment and valuation challenges, and the consequences for the failure to pay taxes including tax deeds, tax sales and tax liens. See Taxation.

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RICO: RICO is the federal Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act or organized crime statute that punishes the participation in a pattern of two or more racketeering activities. Racketeering activities include syndicate gambling, loan sharking, murder, kidnapping, robbery, bribery, extortion, obscenity and drug trafficking. Punishment is generally 20 years of imprisonment but can increase if the racketeering activity carries a higher sentence. Several states permit consecutive sentences for the RICO violation and the racketeering activity.

Railroad Accidents: Railroad accidents concern the liability of railroads or rail transportation entities for tort claims (civil or private wrongs), personal injuries or property damage resulting from railroad accidents or accidents suffered on railroad property by passengers, pedestrians, employees, guests or trespassers. Legal issues include jurisdiction, time limits to file claims, statutory protections or remedies, comparative or contributory negligence, extent of injuries and measure of damages including medical expenses and lost income or wages. See Personal Injury.

Real Estate: Real estate or real property law regulates the relationships between landowners and the right to possess, use and enjoy land, to own or hold present and future interests in real estate, and to sell, transfer and convey interests in real estate. Legal issues include types and validity of deeds or conveyances, the rights, duties and liabilities of landowners, legal descriptions and boundaries, notice of title defects, easements and restricted uses, recording requirements, land contracts and leases, and impact of bankruptcy proceedings. See Commercial Real Estate, Condominium Law, Homeowners Association Law, Residential Real Estate.

Residential Real Estate: Residential real estate law regulates the relationships between residential landowners or homeowners, residential developments and possession, use, sale, transfer and conveyance of real property that is designated or zoned for single-family or multi-family dwellings. Legal issues include types and validity of deeds, the rights, duties and liabilities of landowners, legal descriptions and boundaries, variance permits, easements and restricted uses, recording and notice requirements, land contracts or leases, and impact of bankruptcy proceedings. See Real Estate.

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School Law: School law concerns the regulation of public schools and educational institutions including school board and school district administration and operations, curricula and instruction methods, busing or transportation, athletic and extracurricular activities, discrimination and liability, and faculty, staff and student relations. Legal liabilities include faculty and student misconduct and disciplinary proceedings, civil and statutory liability for damages or injuries, immunity protections, contract disputes, student records and privacy concerns. See Education Law.

Securities: Securities law concerns the regulation of securities exchanges and securities' issuance, registration, offering and trading. Types of securities include common and preferred shares of stock, investment and corporate bonds and other evidence of transferable indebtedness. Legal issues include investor protections, disclosure requirements, statutory and regulatory compliance, investment advisor or company licensing, prohibited or fraudulent practices, civil liability, administrative procedures and judicial review, sanctions or penalties. See Securities Fraud.

Securities Fraud: Securities fraud concerns civil and criminal liability for fraudulent securities transactions including the registration, sale, purchase, offer, or transfer of securities with the intent to defraud. Legal issues include criminal offense elements or components, defenses, sentencing ranges and types of punishment, blue sky laws or state securities regulations and exemptions, administrative and enforcement actions, evidence of fraud or material misrepresentations, federal preemption (priority over state law), and availability of civil remedies. See Securities.

Sex Crimes: Sex crimes or sexual offenses concern criminal offenses associated with sex or sexual acts or activities involving force or the threat of force, underage participants, or persons who are incapacitated or incapable of giving consent. Sex offenses include rape, sodomy or deviant sexual intercourse, sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, and criminal transmission of the HIV virus, child pornography, obscenity and prostitution. Legal issues include the degree or elements of the offense, burdens of proof, and sexual predator or offender registries. See Criminal Law.

Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is criminal offense and a personal injury tort (civil wrong) for which the victim may be compensated. Sexual abuse involves the commission of a sex act to the victim without consent, with the use of force or threat of force, where the victim is incapable of giving consent or where the victim is a minor or underage person. Sexual abuse includes incest and rape. Legal issues include admissibility of evidence, burdens of proof and the measure of money or compensatory damages. See Personal Injury.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual or gender-based harassment in employment and education is a violation of federal and state civil rights statutes that provide a private right of action to seek monetary and equitable relief. Sexual harassment includes a hostile work environment and makes employers vicariously liable for misconduct of supervisors, managers and coworkers. Legal issues include preventive and corrective measures, administrative procedures and time limits for claims, burdens of proof and the measure of damages including back pay or type of equitable relief. See Labor and Employment.

Slip and Fall: Slip and fall concerns the liability of owners and occupiers including businesses for tort claims (civil or private wrongs) or personal injury claims to recover damages for injuries incurred as the result of a fall caused by a dangerous condition or defect on real property or building premises. Legal issues include time limits for claims, actual or constructive notice of dangerous, defective or slippery condition, the extent of comparative or contributory negligence or fault, the injury sustained and the measure of damages. See Personal Injury.

Small Business Law: Small business law concerns the regulation of business entities that are better suited for small business, namely sole proprietorships, general or limited partnerships, limited liability companies and closely held or S corporations. Legal issues include statutory compliance with formation and registration requirements, ownership and management control, duties and liabilities, small business loans, financing or capitalization, financial reporting, tax treatment, winding up and dissolution, liquidation or termination. See Business Law.

Social Security: Social security law concerns the regulation of family and individual welfare assistance and relief programs including medical assistance programs, Medicaid, Medicare, temporary assistance programs, disability benefits (SSD), supplemental security income (SSI), and retirement and survivors benefits. Legal issues include eligibility and qualifying factors, benefit determinations and payments, negative or adverse actions, administrative hearings and proceedings, spousal benefits, recoupment of overpayments, and benefits reduction or termination. See Social Security Disability.

Social Security Disability: Social Security Disability (SSD) law concerns disability benefits provided to eligible individuals under the Social Security Act. Legal issues include eligibility requirements and qualifying factors, claims or applications for benefits, benefit determinations and payments, representation of parties, administrative hearings and appeals, burdens of proof and use of expert testimony, exhaustion of administrative remedies and time limits for judicial review, standards of review, and petitions for reconsideration. See Social Security.

Special Education: Special education law concerns the regulation of programs and support to students that are educationally, economically or socially disadvantaged including supplemental education programs, targeted grant programs and Head Start programs. Legal issues include disability discrimination, misconduct and disciplinary proceedings, disability screening methods and procedures, impartial hearings, individualized educational programs (IEPs), liability issues and available remedies such as injunctive relief, money damages, fines and penalties. See Education Law.

Spousal Support: Spousal support concerns the duty or obligation to pay and the award, modification or termination of alimony, spousal maintenance or spousal support following divorce or the termination of a marriage or marital relationship. Legal issues include jurisdiction and venue (what court has authority to decide), standards or factors in determining the amount (lump sum or periodic or installment payments) and type of award or modification (temporary, rehabilitative or permanent alimony) and circumstances for terminating awards. See Family Law.

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Tax Audits: Tax audits concern federal and state regulations governing the examination, investigation or review of taxpayer liabilities, returns and records. Legal issues include the scope and authority of tax auditors or examiners, timeliness of audits and investigations, issuance and validity of administrative summonses and subpoenas for the production of taxpayer books and records, notice and disclosure requirements, privacy and confidentiality issues, administrative procedures, and potential civil or criminal penalties or punishment. See Taxation.

Tax Planning: Tax planning concerns the analysis of income and assets and the adoption of tax preferential treatment strategies or methods to reduce or minimize tax liability or taxable income by maximizing taxpayer eligibility or qualifications for tax exemptions, deductions or credits. Legal issues include interpretation or construction of tax rules, regulations and guidelines, tax sheltered or tax deferred savings, investments, annuities or pension or retirement plans, and methods and criteria for assessing or valuing income, assets or tax liabilities. See Taxation.

Taxation: Taxation concerns the imposition and collection of federal, state and local taxes including the income tax, real estate or property tax, estate and gift tax, corporate taxes, excise tax, sales or use tax and international taxation. Legal issues include tax computation, accounting and reporting, taxpayer classifications or groups, valuations and assessments, tax exemptions, deductions and credits, tax administration, investigation, audit, settlement and collection procedures, tax claims or disputes and penalties or punishment, and tax planning. See Estate and Gift Taxation, Income Tax, Property Tax, Tax Audits, Tax Planning.

Theft: Theft or larceny concerns those crimes or criminal offenses where the basic act is the intentional taking or stealing of a victim's property or the appropriation of the victim's property without consent. Some theft crimes include robbery, larceny, embezzlement or criminal conversion, knowingly acquiring lost property, possession of stolen property, writing bad checks or forgery, unauthorized use of an automobile and extortion (theft by force). Legal issues include burden of proof, sufficiency of the evidence and available defenses. See Criminal Law.

Toxic Torts: Toxic torts are private or civil lawsuits brought against employers or manufacturers, suppliers, retailers or other responsible parties for personal injuries or property damage caused by toxic substances including asbestos, pesticides, toxic mold, lead products and radioactive waste or materials. Legal issues include time limits to file claims, mass tort actions, class actions, collective liability and strict liability (liability without fault) issues, notices and label warnings, administrative proceedings and measure of damages. See Asbestos Litigation, Lead Poisoning, Mold Litigation.

Trade Secrets: Trade secrets law covers the application of criminal and civil law including torts (civil or private wrongs) and contract law to trade secrets. A trade secret is intellectual property that may consist of a formula, manufacturing process, computer software, device or business information such as customer lists. Legal issues include licensing, protection measures, infringement, breach of contract, misappropriation, theft or improper use, available defenses such as public domain or reverse engineering, available remedies and measure of damages. See Intellectual Property.

Trademarks: Trademark law concerns the registration, rights, protections and enforcement provided to trademarks including certification marks, collective marks or service marks. A trademark may consist of a word, phrase, logo, slogan or symbol that is used to distinguish a product or service. Legal issues include conveyances or transfers, jurisdiction of disputes, infringement, appropriation or misappropriation cases, dilution of marks, unfair competition, trademark abandonment and remedies including money damages, lost profits and injunctive relief. See Intellectual Property.

Traffic Violations: Traffic violations concern lesser criminal offenses for the violation of traffic rules and regulations or other crimes associated with the operation of a motor vehicle. Offenses include failure to observe traffic signs such as stop signs, yield signs and construction warning signs, improper lane changes, operating a motor vehicle with defective equipment, speeding or exceeding the speed limit, hit and run driving and vehicular homicide. Legal issues include traffic or court proceedings, burdens of proof, and fines or possible jail sentences. See Criminal Law.

Trucking Accidents: Trucking accidents concern the tort liability (liability for private or civil wrongs) of owners and operators of trucks or tractor-trailers or long-haulers for property damage, personal injuries and death resulting from accidents or collisions. Legal issues include the duties owed by owners and operators or drivers of trucks including commercial, public or government and privately-owned vehicles, extent of property damage, injuries or deaths, insurance coverage limitations and restrictions, and contributory or comparative fault or negligence. See Personal Injury.

Trusts and Estates: Trusts and estates law concerns the regulation of estates and future interests in property, the management, execution and administration of trusts, decedents' estates, wills, intestacy (dispositions where there is no will) and other probate matters. Legal issues include formalities of trust and estate instruments, valuation of trust and estate assets or property, management and administration, nature and validity of charitable bequests and gifts, appointment of executors and administrators or personal representatives, and probate proceedings. See Asset Protection, Estate Litigation, Estate Planning, Guardianship and Conservatorship.

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Unfair Competition: Unfair competition consists of trade, commerce or business transaction practices or methods of competition that are unfair or deceptive or misleading to consumers and are prohibited by federal and state laws and regulations. Examples include false or misleading advertising or product representations, trademark infringement or misappropriation (unauthorized use of a trademark), bait and switch sales (substituting poorer quality goods for advertised goods), price fixing or competitor price agreements and misappropriation of trade secrets. See Antitrust and Trade Regulation.

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Venture Capital: Venture capital is the financing of part or all of the initial capital in a new business by third-party investors, usually investment or venture capital companies. The initial capital investment is given in return for an equity interest, usually in form of shares of stock. Venture capital investments may include management and technical expertise. A new business considering venture capital should consult an attorney because the venture capitalist may place limitations on business operations or demand a management interest in the business. See Investments.

Visitation Rights: Visitation rights are concerned with the rights of a parent, grandparent and nonparent to visit with a minor child. Normally, it is within the child's best interest to award visitation rights to the noncustodial parent. Another standard typically used for older children is the preference of the child standard. Legal issues include the rights of grandparents and third parties or de facto parents to visitation, enforcement and remedies for breach or denial of visitation and the standards or circumstances for the modification of visitation rights. See Family Law.

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Wage and Hour Law: Wage and hour laws regulate the number of hours in the work week including overtime, weekend and holiday hours, establish minimum wage guidelines, and place restrictions on child labor or the employment of minors. Legal issues include exceptions or exemptions from compliance, permitted and prohibited deductions from wages or compensation, recordkeeping requirements, manner of payment of wages, commissions or salary, available employer defenses and administrative proceedings and remedies available upon enforcement. See Labor and Employment.

Warranty Law: Warranty law covers federal and state statutes and case law on various types of warranties or service contracts that apply to purchased products or goods including implied warranties of merchantability or fitness, express warranties, full warranties, limited warranties and warranties of title. Legal issues include visibility and readability of warranty language, construction and interpretation issues such as course of dealing and trade usage, validity of disclaimers, warranty transfers and remedies for breach of warranty. See Consumer Law.

Weapons Charges: Weapons charges or firearms charges are criminal offenses that relate to the possession, sale, trafficking or use of guns, rifles or weapons. Related offenses include the manufacture, sale or possession of armor piercing bullets, reckless or aggravated discharge of a firearm, boarding aircraft with weapons, and failure to register firearms. Legal issues include registration or licensing requirements, conceal and carry statutes, types of weapons prohibited or restricted and sentencing enhancements for use or possession of weapons during a crime. See Criminal Law.

Whistleblower Litigation: Whistleblower litigation concerns employee lawsuits or civil actions seeking protections under federal and state whistleblower statutes for retaliation or wrongful termination or discharge for reporting or disclosing employer wrongdoing or illegal activities, government contract violations or statutory violations. Legal issues include burdens of proof in enforcement proceedings, protected employee disclosures, adverse employment actions such as termination or discharge and available remedies including back pay and reinstatement. See Labor and Employment.

White Collar Crime: White collar crimes are criminal offenses that are typically committed by business or government professionals. White collar crimes include criminal embezzlement or the unlawful appropriation of money or property entrusted to the offender or defendant and anti-money laundering (converting illegally obtained money to "clean" money through legitimate business transactions), insider trading, RICO or racketeering crimes and criminal fraud such as credit care fraud, insurance fraud, Medicare fraud and securities or investment fraud.

Wills and Probate: Wills and probate concerns the statutory requirements to make or execute a final will and testament including codicils and formal procedures to admit the will to probate. Legal issues include testamentary capacity (soundness of mind and voluntariness of the maker or testator), testamentary (required) formalities for a valid will, a spouse's right to elect to take under the will or by statute, revoked or lost wills, validity, failure or lapse of bequests, calculating shares of gifts, appointment of representatives and rules of construction.

Workers Compensation: Workers compensation is a state mandated insurance that provides compensation benefits to employees who suffered an injury or death regardless of fault that arose out of and in the course of employment. The injury may be temporary or permanent and partial or total, and it can be the result of a workplace or industrial accident or an occupational disease. Legal issues include the extent of the employer's liability or degree of fault, the nature and extent of the employee's injuries and rehabilitation, and the measure or calculation of benefits.

Wrongful Death: Wrongful death and survival actions are lawsuits in tort (a civil wrong or injury) in which decedents and their families are entitled to recover money damages from the negligent wrongdoer or plaintiff for causing the decedent's death. Legal issues include the wrongdoer's duties and obligations towards the decedent, the extent of the wrongdoer's liability, negligence, recklessness or tortuous conduct, the decedent's contributory or comparative negligence, and the assessment or measure of compensatory or punitive (punishment) damages. See Personal Injury.

Wrongful Termination: Wrongful termination or discharge concerns employee lawsuits or claims alleging the employer's breach of an employment contract without cause or justification, constructive discharge by discriminatory practices or changing the work environment or by retaliation for whistleblowing (reporting employer violations). Legal issues include burdens of proof, construction and interpretation of contract language or employer handbooks, available defenses such as employee misconduct and voluntary resignation and remedies such as back pay and reinstatement. See Labor and Employment.

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Zoning, Planning and Land Use: Zoning, planning and land use law covers state and local regulation of land use and land use controls such as agricultural or farm land, water and irrigation, coastal zones, growth control, annexation (expanding a city's boundaries), comprehensive or master zoning plans, and building codes. Legal issues include conditional use and building permits, variances and nonconforming uses, zoning and building code violations, and actions or remedies for constitutional violations of due process and taking of property without just or fair compensation.

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