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Old 03-05-2013, 09:58 AM   #21
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

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Originally Posted by Figleaf23 View Post
I'll suggest again -- think of how many specializations a Hard skill should be divided into as a game function, then there will almost certainly be a schematic of the field of law with a number of categories to match.
Well, how many should it? Engineering has dozens. Psychology has, IIRC, three. Law canonically has at least a half-dozen per jurisdiction, but I have no idea just how many.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:44 PM   #22
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

Some possibilities:

Constitutional

Obligations, Contract, Family/Divorce, Inheritance/Probate, Real Estate/Property/Mortgage, Rent, Labor/Employment, Company, Insolvency/Bankruptcy, Intellectual Property/Copyright, Building/Architects, Litigation

Police, Building/Zoning, Traffic, Immigration, Environment, Civil Service, Banking/Finance/Securities, Patent, Agricultural, Education, Medical, Welfare/Social Security/Disability, Tax, Insurance, Aviation, Admiralty, Space, Military, Health, Sports, Entertainment, Media, Administrative, Election, Antitrust

Criminal
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:59 PM   #23
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Well, how many should it? Engineering has dozens. Psychology has, IIRC, three. Law canonically has at least a half-dozen per jurisdiction, but I have no idea just how many.
It depends on the setting and the campaign and whether you want to go with established categories or make up your own.

Since most campaigns don't have a lot of law-action, and it would be possible to subspecialize the skill into uselessness very easily, I incline toward making up a sort or irreducible category list for GURPS. Maybe: domestic law (family, estates, property), business law (contracts, corporate, banking, finance), criminal law (including police law), government law (everything from welfare benefit claims up to regulation of airlines), litigation, and international.
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:27 PM   #24
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

Yuck, I just went and actually read the skill description. That makes a general practictioner a near impossibility on any kind of reasonable point budget, yet solo practitioners are very common.

For my state, when I took the bar, I basically had 1 point in every single Law speciality relating to Washington state (plus federal Indian Law). That's the required knowledge to pass the bar, almost by definition.

Most of that knowledge is now gone, although I could easily find out what I needed to know about almost anything.

Actually being a lawyer is as much about Diplomacy, Writing, and Fast-Talk (with Detect Lies, Body Language, and other such social skills as second tier requirements) as it is about points in Law skills. Research is probably the most important skill, however, as it is what allows you to actually answer legal questions. I might require a Law specialization for Research if one doesn't exist, but one thing I would most DEFINITELY NOT do is make research dependent on individual law subspecialties. The law subspecialties, as numerous or not as you want to make them, are really only what a lawyer is confident in answering on relatively short notice. (And by short notice, I mean less a few days...it would take me weeks to get conversant in complex environmental litigation, but I can answer a consumer protection question either on the fly or within a couple hours to days.)

Also, ALL practicing lawyers need a broad foundation in many areas of law, something that these mechanics don't really allow for. For example, any "litigator" is going to know contracts, procedure, constitutional law, and likely a fair amount of random substantive nuggets from probate to property. Almost all lawyers will know some constitutional law, as it's very foundational in the USA. This is why I'd rather see optional specialties in addition to a primary skill that should be specialized only by country or legal system.

It's somewhat important to know the difference between the English/American system (generally called "common law") and the "civil law" system of most non-British Commonwealth nations. Basically, in a civil law society, EVERYTHING is controlled by a drafted statute. If you want to know the answer to a legal question, you have to go out and hit the passed, codified laws to find the answer. In a common law system, there are almost always statutes, but there's also judicial precedent, which taken together (the body of case law, not statutes), constitutes the "common law" as it has evolved literally since medieval times (Americans owe many common legal concepts to early English kings).

Being a lawyer in the American/English system and being a lawyer in continental Europe are often quite different. The way trials are held is very different, the relationship between opposing counsel is very different, and the interactions between judges and lawyers is very different.

For modern Earth, I'd thus make the Law skill require one of these two specializations:

Law (<American or English>) and Law (<pick a civil law country>)

Then, I'd make all the substantive areas of law you want into additional, but optional subspecialties, probably all defaulting to the main Law above at -4. This main Law skill is very general. It covers answering basic questions about a broad swath of law, much of which will have been learned in law school or while studying for a bar exam. If pitted against a subspecialty, there should probably be an additional -2 to -4 penalty applied (or a bonus applied to the specialist).

Thus, an American corporate litigator is going to have Law (American), Law (American/Corporate), Law (American/Contract), Fast-Talk, Diplomacy, Writing, Research, and, if a trial lawyer, probably Acting and possibly Performance (I'm not kidding).

Wow, that got longer than I wanted.

EDIT: I'd probably require a civil vs. criminal split, at least for American law. And this "civil" means "not criminal"--confusing, I know, rather than referring to "civil law" as in European statutory schemes. Man, lawyers are annoying. ;-)
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:43 PM   #25
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

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Originally Posted by apoc527 View Post
For modern Earth, I'd thus make the Law skill require one of these two specializations:

Law (<American or English>) and Law (<pick a civil law country>)
I think I would add Law (International), because to me it seems sufficiently
different from both "common law" and "civil law" as you defined them to get
its own category, mainly because the sources of international law and its
procedures tend to be different.
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:43 PM   #26
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

Separate post for a reasonable list of substantive areas...

First, we consider the required first year curriculum at most law schools in the USA (obviously, I know little to nothing about other countries): Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Torts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law. That's basically all that's required in most places (well, Legal Writing and Research too, but that's not a substantive area).

So, that's a good place to start if you want very few specialities!

If you want more, keep in mind that MOST realistic specialities incorporate concepts and doctrine from one or more of these areas. Almost every lawyer has to know Civil Procedure or Criminal Procedure (which I would not separate from Criminal Law).

I would probably subsume procedure into one of the "main" law groups, which, now that I think about it, should probably be separated by one more step: Civil vs. Criminal. (Civil, in this context, means "not criminal" and shouldn't be confused with statute-based "civil law"...ugh, no wonder people hate lawyers.)

Anyway, other substantive specialties:

Business (would cover both regulation of business from gov't side, defense of business, and interactions between businesses)

Family (definitely a legit speciality). I might consolidate slightly and say "Family/Wills & Estates."

Constitutional/Civil Rights (in the USA, this is gonna cover discrimination suits, Section 1983 violations of civil rights suits, etc)

Admiralty/Maritime

Intellectual Property (copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets)

Consumer Law (a whole host of issues from contracts to debt law to bankruptcy)

Bankruptcy (if you want to separate out from Consumer and Business law...)

I could go on, but that's a fair list. Really, this is a much harder task than I thought, and I think you would do best to limit the total number to less than a dozen specialties.
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:45 PM   #27
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

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Originally Posted by rust View Post
I think I would add Law (International), because to me it seems sufficiently
different from both "common law" and "civil law" as you defined them to get
its own category, mainly because the sources of international law and its
procedures tend to be different.
The source of most true international "law" is treaties, which are basically statutes agreed upon by nations, rather than national legislative bodies. They aren't fundamentally different from either type, depending on what kind of system is used to adjudicate disputes under said treaties.

To be honest, I know very little about "international law" so sure, it's probably a separate skill. :-)
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:55 PM   #28
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

Last thought for now:

THe problem when trying to model real lawyers is easily exemplified by grabbing a big firm lawyer profile from a major firm. I'll use my wife, since I can explain to her why someone put a link to her profile on a gaming forum...

http://www.perkinscoie.com/sbernstein/

She and I went to law school at the exact same time, got about the same grades, and have been practicing law for basically the same number of years ('cept she had a maternity leave and I didn't).

If government lawyers like me had profile pages (we don't), mine would say under Practice Areas: "Consumer Protection." But look at what hers says!! (And amusingly, I haven't looked at her profile recently--this list has grown by quite a few areas since I last looked!)

That's, what, sixteen or so "discrete" practice areas??!? There is NO WAY she has significantly more "points" invested in Law skills than I do. She has some different law skills, and our character sheets will definitely differ, but given that we did about the same in law school, we should be pretty similar point totals. We've been out of school for about 6 years...go look up some partners who have 20 years experience and check on their lists! (Some will be bigger, some smaller...it just depends, which is the ultimate lawyer answer.)

If GURPS requires her to take 16 (or even half that) individual skills, that's not really accurate.

How to proceed...I shall have to ponder this more, but the real issue is that she doesn't just immediately "know" the answer to any reasonably complex legal question that any client is going to actually pay to get the answer to. It requires a fair amount of work...Research and Writing...to get to an answer.

Maybe Law should really just be by broad jurisdiction and shouldn't have specialties at all...that's not quite right either. I am coming back to the Technique concept, honestly. I'll think more.
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Last edited by apoc527; 03-05-2013 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:55 PM   #29
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

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Originally Posted by apoc527 View Post
The source of most true international "law" is treaties, which are basically statutes agreed upon by nations, rather than national legislative bodies. They aren't fundamentally different from either type, depending on what kind of system is used to adjudicate disputes under said treaties.
What I mean is that a lawyer would need different sources than those of his
home country. For example, in an extradition case he needs to understand
the legal system of the country that is asked to extradite the person, the
legal system of the country that asks for the extradition, and the treaties
concerning extradition between the two countries. Moreover, he has to deal
with the problem that international treaties are often difficult to enforce.
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Old 03-05-2013, 05:06 PM   #30
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Default Re: Calling all lawyers! List of specific fields for Law

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Originally Posted by apoc527 View Post
How to proceed...I shall have to ponder this more, but the real issue is that she doesn't just immediately "know" the answer to any reasonably complex legal question that any client is going to actually pay to get the answer to. It requires a fair amount of work...Research and Writing...to get to an answer.
No, that's still incorporated to some degree in skill level. The problem is that realistic skills generally aren't monolithic things that you get better or worse at, they're a bunch of related microskills/familiarities, and while a higher level of general skill will typically let you pick up a new familiarity faster, you still won't be able to do it by default unless you get fairly lucky.
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