Additional lawyers allow you to research multiple things at once but only one is required to stay on staff after the research is complete. (firing the last one will disable what the lawyers have unlocked until another is hired)
Legal: This unlocks the ability to hire a Lawyer and also some additional research options for the lawyer to complete.
Permanent Punishments: This gives you the ability to hand out permanent punishments. 24 hours in solitary or lock down not enough? Try forever. (Note: Guards bring them food on a schedule.
Small Cells: Removes the minimal cell size (2x3.) Cells can now be as small as you like as long as they still must include a bed and toilet (3x1.)
Death Row: Send death row prisoners to the Execution Room to kill them. (prisoners must arrive already sentenced to death; you can not upgrade a prisoner to death row status because this would require a trial by jury for a new sentence)
Reduce Execution Liability: Makes it so you can execute prisoners sooner (after less appeals). Changes the state approved conviction strength from under 5% to under 10%. Still executing a prisoner above this value will still result in the same punishments.
Legal Prep: Prepare for catastrophic incidents (e.g. riots) and remove the possibility of losing the game for one incident. Unlocks the Legal Defense. Note that due to it taking a long time this needs to be unlocked BEFORE you try and wriggle your way out of trouble.
Legal Defense: Used when your job is on the line and you're about to get fired. Takes 3 hours.
Side Note: Prisoners may be visited by their lawyers instead of family in the visitation room. This is an entirely different type of lawyer that has nothing to do with the staff lawyer you could hire. He serves no function aside from meeting prisoner needs. (functionally his visits reduce a prisoners "Family" need the same as a family member, some prisoners would have no visits if the lawyer was not an option)
History / Trivia Edit
The staff Lawyer was re-added to the game in the Alpha 31 update after it was removed in the Alpha 23.
Lawyers were originally designed to reduce the overall number of Penalty Points you have been awarded, and you could hire as many of them as you need. Each Lawyer required his own Office. However penalty points did not serve any function in the game when lawyers were added so reducing them was meaningless.
Penalty points were gained when prisoners escaped or caused deaths (among staff or inmates).
In Alpha-14, the ability to sell each prison you create theoretically gave lawyers a purpose in reducing the Penalty Points. The more penalty points you have, the less your prison would sell for. This was the first time the idea of what a lawyer was going to be used for became clear. However, they were broken and did not actually perform the function of reducing penalty points (despite what it claimed on the bureaucracy tab for researching them)
As of Alpha-19, they still did nothing.
The valuation and sale of prisons was completely revamped and penalty points were removed from the game. Instead of permanent penalty points, deaths and escapes now only count against you for a short period of time. Once that time elapsed the prison could be sold for full value. Lawyers once again served no purpose (not that they ever actually worked when they did have a purpose)
As of Alpha 23 lawyers have been removed from the game. The developers grew tired of being asked what the lawyer does.
As of Alpha 29, Visitor lawyers not only visit prisoners in the visitation room, but also meet for parole hearings in the Parole Room.
In Alpha 31, Lawyers were Re-Added into the Game with the function of allowing you to execute prisoners at will, reducing their cell size and letting your permanently punish prisoners (all unlocked through Bureacracy).