A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. The primary service rendered by a law firm is to advise clients (individuals or corporations) about their legal rights and responsibilities, and to represent clients in civil or criminal cases, business transactions, and other matters in which legal advice and other assistance are sought.
Law firms are organized in a variety of ways, depending on the jurisdiction in which the firm practices. Common arrangements include:
Sole proprietorship, in which the attorney is the law firm and is responsible for all profit, loss and liability;
General partnership, in which all the attorneys who are members of the firm share ownership, profits and liabilities;
Professional corporations, which issue stock to the attorneys in a fashion similar to that of a business corporation;
Limited liability company, in which the attorney-owners are called "members" but are not directly liable to third party creditors of the law firm (prohibited as against public policy in many jurisdictions but allowed in others in the form of a "Professional Limited Liability Company" or "PLLC");
Mining law is the branch of law relating to the legal requirements affecting minerals and mining. Mining law covers several basic topics, including the ownership of the mineral resource and who can work them. Mining is also affected by various regulations regarding the health and safety of miners, as well as the environmental impact of mining.
An aspect of property law that is central to mining law is the question of who "owns" the mineral, such that they may legally extract it from the earth. This is often dependent on the type of mineral in question, the mining history of the jurisdiction, as well as the general background legal tradition and its treatment of property.
For instance, in many jurisdictions, rights to mine gold and silver are retained by the sovereign, as the two metals traditionally served as currency in many a given society.
In addition to ownership of the mineral, the method of extraction may affect nearby property owners. Subsidence (be it dramatic or subtle) results when a mine (or similar area) collapses or drops, causing above or nearby structures to drop with it, often damaging or destroying them. The issue of support rights determines the legal rights and relationships between parties in these situations.
The General Mining Act of 1872 is a United States federal law that authorizes and governs prospecting and mining for economic minerals, such as gold, platinum, and silver, on federal public lands. This law, approved on May 10, 1872, codified the informal system of acquiring and protecting mining claims on public land, formed by prospectors in California and Nevada from the late 1840s through the 1860s, such as during the California Gold Rush.
All citizens of the United States of America 18 years or older have the right under the 1872 mining law to locate a lode (hard rock) or placer (gravel) mining claim on federal lands open to mineral entry. These claims may be located once a discovery of a locatable mineral is made. Locatable minerals include but are not limited to platinum, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, uranium and tungsten.
Western miners' codes
Miners and prospectors in the California Gold Rush of 1849 found themselves in a legal vacuum. Although the US federal government had laws governing the leasing of mineral land, the United States had only recently acquired California by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and had little presence in the newly acquired territories.