Person trained and licensed to prepare, manage, and either prosecute or defend a court action as an agent for another and who also gives advice on legal matters that may or may not require court action. Legal practice varies from country to country. In Britain, for example, lawyers are divided into barristers and solicitors. In the U.S. attorneys often specialize in limited areas of the law (e.g., criminal law, divorce, or probate). In France the most important type of legal professional is the avocat, roughly comparable to the English barrister. In Germany the chief distinction is between lawyers and notaries.