Litigation occurs when one person takes legal action against another person, business, group or entity to solve a dispute. A litigation lawyer is an individual who handles the litigation process and represents either the defendant or the plaintiff in court. Preparing for a litigation civil case is often a lengthy process. Once hired, the lawyer is responsible for conducting the initial investigation, preparing motions, presenting an argument during the trial and preparing settlements and appeals. If you have a civil dispute, you want to hire a litigation lawyer. Not all litigation disputes end up before a judge, but hiring a litigation lawyer is necessary to guide you through the process.
What Is the Litigation Process?
Unlike transactional attorneys, litigation lawyers prosecute or defend claims for clients in court. They specialize in preparing, investing and prosecuting civil cases. Here are the steps to the civil litigation process:
Investigation or assessment
Once a potential plaintiff seeks representation in a civil dispute, the litigator investigates the claim to see if there is enough evidence to file a lawsuit, or in the defendant’s case, what evidence is available to defend a potential claim. The assessment phase may involve interviewing witnesses, gathering documents from clients and investigating facts. Settlement discussions may also take place during this phase. This is to prevent a formal lawsuit filing.
Pre-trial pleadings and motions
This phase of the process requires the litigation attorney to draft and file a multitude of legal documents such as pleadings and motions on behalf of the client. Plaintiff attorneys draft complaints and summons to start the official lawsuit proceedings. It’s the responsibility of defense litigators to investigate the claims made in complaints and formulating responses. Motions are drafted to request the court to take a specific action on the case. This includes the motions to strike, amend, change the venue or dismiss the case.
The discovery phase of the litigation process takes place outside of the courtroom. Litigation lawyers use many methods during this phase, including interrogatories, requests for admission and depositions, to obtain relevant information. Attorneys for each party must exchange any information obtained. The attorney examines the relevant data to identify any potential issues and plans a course of action for trial.
The pre-trial phase takes place after the discovery process and before the commencement of the actual trial. The attorney uses this time to advise clients, hire expert witnesses, complete pre-trial conferences and prepare trial exhibits.
The majority of civil litigation cases reach settlement before a scheduled trial. If the case does require a trial, litigators develop persuasive arguments, prepare witnesses to be examined and identify case weaknesses that the other side is likely to point out at trial. On the day the trial commences, a jury is selected and both sides present their case in court through the presentation of testimony and evidence. Litigators are also responsible for preparing and delivering opening and closing statements and examining witnesses.
A settlement may be reached at any point in the litigation process, even after the trial begins. Settlements are made when litigators negotiate with the other party to come to an agreement. A mediator may be hired to oversee the settlement process. If a settlement is reached, the litigators are responsible for drafting settlement materials including agreements and releases.
If either party is not happy with the trial’s outcome, an appeal may be filed with the court. Drafting an appeal requires litigators to identify issues, develop an appellate strategy, draft documents and present a case before a post-trial appellate court. The appeals process case often takes years to complete in complex cases.
Things To Consider When Hiring a Litigation Lawyer
If you are ready to hire a litigation lawyer to represent you in a civil case, there are several factors to consider that impact the type of representation you receive.
Ideally, you do not want to hire a lawyer fresh out of law school. Do some research before you schedule a consultation. At the consultation, don’t be afraid to ask about the lawyer’s level of experience. You want a lawyer who has experience in the type of civil law that pertains to your case.
Choose a lawyer who has a favorable reputation in your community. Ask friends and family for recommendations and read online reviews. Also, ask about the attorney’s track record of success. Don’t worry if the attorney has not won every case. It is more important that you choose a lawyer who has experience representing a wide variety of clients in civil matters.
Choose an attorney who resides within 30 minutes of your home. Hiring a lawyer located in your same geographic location ensures you have someone familiar with the local state and county laws. Also, you don’t want to incur a large expense traveling back and forth to your lawyer’s office.
Set up a consultation with at least two different litigation lawyers. Lawyers have many different personality types. Choose a lawyer with a personality that complements your own. You will spend a lot of time with your attorney throughout the litigation process, so you want someone you don’t mind being around.
Hiring a litigation lawyer is an investment. Ask about all of the legal fees during the first consultation. Before you sign a retainer, read over everything carefully and make sure you understand the fees involved. Don’t let a bill take you by surprise right before your case goes to trial.
Contact an Experienced Litigation Attorney
If you are considering filing a formal civil complaint against someone, you need to hire an experienced litigation attorney. An attorney can guide you through the litigation process and fight for a favorable outcome to your case. Don’t try to navigate the complex world of civil law alone. Hire an experienced attorney today so you can begin the civil litigation process. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!