Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the second largest city in the state, as well as the county seat for Allegheny County, PA. It’s often called “The City of Bridges” and “The Steel City” because of its numerous bridges and position as the former steel manufacturing base. As of April 4, 2008, the city and Allegheny County began discussions regarding a proposal to merge as early as 2009 in order to consolidate government and enhance the region’s status. Should the proposal be approved, the city of Pittsburgh will annex the entire area of Allegheny County into a Metropolitan Government, with the population booming to 1.2 million, making Pittsburgh the 10th largest city in the United States.
In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Pittsburgh as the 13th best city for young professionals to live, so it’s no surprise that many fine Pennsylvania lawyers have chosen Pittsburgh to call home. Additionally, The Economist named Pittsburgh as the most livable city in the United States in 2009. Both Pennsylvania residents and non-residents from out-of-state come to Pittsburgh to study law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the Duquesne University School of Law. Many of the graduates from these law schools settle in Pittsburgh to begin their legal careers in a variety of different practice areas.
Some Pennsylvania lawyers in Pittsburgh, for instance, move into the practice of criminal defense law. Criminal law refers to the body of law relating to crimes committed against the public, rather than the body of law governing disputes between individuals. Pennsylvania lawyers who practice criminal law in Pittsburgh must follow complex rules of procedure set in place to ensure fair trials for defendants. Because of that, those best suited to navigate the complicated straits of Pennsylvania criminal law in the Pittsburgh area are those experienced Pennsylvania lawyers who regularly practice criminal defense.
Relative to its poverty rate, Pittsburgh previously had one of the lowest property crime rates and a lower-than-average violent crime rate among similarly-sized cities. Unfortunately, recent crime statistics show violent crime has risen, although most of the statistics show that the majority of these violent crimes are committed by known assailants, rather than random strangers. Overall, the “violent crime” rate for the city is about twice the national average, while the “property” or non-violent crime rate is about 1.11 times the national average. No wonder many Pennsylvania lawyers choose to practice criminal defense law in Pittsburgh!
Other Pennsylvania lawyers based in Pittsburgh choose to specialize in areas of civil law rather than criminal law. Examples include bankruptcy law, employment law, personal injury law, immigration, family law, medical malpractice law, and workers compensation law. Civil law cases typically involve disputes between individuals (or companies) and are completely separate from criminal trials. The burden of proof is much lower in a civil case. If the evidence shows there is more than a fifty percent probability the defendant is responsible, the jury can return a guilty verdict. The defendant will then be responsible for making reparations to the plaintiff.