The city of Harrisburg provides an excellent arena for Pennsylvania lawyers to practice law, since it serves as both the state capital and the county seat of Dauphin County. Situated on the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River, the city is located 105 miles west-northwest of Philadelphia. Harrisburg has rich historical roots, having played a notable role in American history during the Westward Migration, the American Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution. In fact, the building of the Pennsylvania Canal and the Pennsylvania Railroad during the 19th century helped Harrisburg become one of the most industrialized cities in the Northeastern U.S.
Harrisburg also became a notable stopping place along the Underground Railroad. Escaped slaves were often transported across the Susquehanna River and were first fed and given supplies before being sent north toward Canada. Harrisburg also served as a significant training center for the Union Army, and tens of thousands of troops passed through Camp Curtin. It became a major rail center for the Union, acting as a vital link between the Atlantic coast and the Midwest. As such, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia targeted it for invasion twice.
Some of the fine law schools located in the Harrisburg area include Widener Law School and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. Many graduates of these schools go on to practice as Pennsylvania lawyers in the Harrisburg area. What areas of law do they practice in? Good question. The answer is–all of them! From criminal cases to civil lawsuits, these Pennsylvania lawyers faithfully serve their clients in a variety of ways.
Keep in mind, though, that the field of law is an extremely broad one, with most attorneys specializing in particular niches. Pennsylvania lawyers who practice civil law will be of little use in a criminal case, and vice versa. There are several differences between these two areas of law.
Criminal cases are more widely publicized because they’re much more dramatic than civil lawsuits. While most people have at least heard of civil lawsuits, they aren’t really sure what makes them so different from the nail-biting cases tried in television courtrooms. For one thing, they’re certainly a lot less exciting and have a lot less at stake for the defendants, both nationally and here in Pennsylvania. Lawyers representing criminal cases often hold their clients’ lives in their hands–literally. Losing a criminal case can bring on serious prison time, and sometimes even the death penalty.
Criminal law involves, logically enough, crimes committed by one party against another and are broken up into two subsets: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are larger offenses that typically result in harsher punishments. Misdemeanors are smaller offenses that yield sentences that are not quite as harsh. It is recommended that defendants retain one of the many experienced Pennsylvania lawyers practicing criminal law to represent them no matter which type of crime they have been accused of committing.