You have likely heard the words “litigate” and “litigation” a lot. Perhaps you have only heard them in passing and thought you had a general understanding but are now unsure. As you can tell from the title, litigation is a legal term.
So, what is a litigation lawyer? A litigation lawyer is someone who represents a client in legal disputes. For example, if you were to sue your employer for being treated unfairly, you would employ a litigation lawyer.
A litigation lawyer is someone who defends and represents plaintiffs and defendants in civil suits. But what does the word “litigation” actually mean?
Very simply, the word “litigation” means the act of taking legal action. This might seem like it could refer to anything that concerns the law. But litigation is much more specific.
Litigation, in this context, is when a case is taken to court for a judge to make a decision. This will usually happen once a lot of discussion and negotiation has taken place.
Few people will want to risk going to court. This is usually because they don’t want certain information made public or because of the costs involved.
So, what exactly are the responsibilities of a litigation lawyer? The work of a litigation lawyer will vary depending on the case they are working on.
But their general duties and responsibilities relate to gathering information, documentation, and working towards a conflict resolution.
Case Investigation and Assessment
These responsibilities generally involve several stages that are worked through to reach a resolution. This is to determine if there is a reason for a lawsuit.
This initial stage primarily involves taking witness statements, collating and assessing relevant documents, and researching events that relate to the potential case. This stage will also involve interviewing witnesses.
This stage isn’t solely to get ready for a case. It is also used to decide whether or not a resolution can be reached without going to court.
The litigation lawyer for the plaintiff will initiate the proceedings by drafting and filing a summons and a complaint.
The lawyer for the defendant will draft a response and potentially a counterclaim to refute the claims of the initial plaintiff.
The litigation lawyers will need to file a number of pleadings and motions with the court. This is on behalf of their client. Both the plaintiff and the defendant will need to file.
Litigation lawyers will also sometimes need to draft pretrial motions.
The Discovery Process/Disclosure
This stage involves an exchange of information between the parties. It is very important for both sides to know what the other is going to present.
The parties can either provide the other party with their information. Or they can employ a series of processes to discover the information for themselves.
This depends on what information each party wants from the other. The information can be requested through written questions, interrogatories, or questions asked in person under oath.
Case Management Process
This stage involves the court ensuring that the other is fully aware and understands the issues and reasons for the case.
This is also when the timetable for events of both the trial and the events leading up to the trial are provided.
This is the final stage before the actual trial. It involves all parties ensuring they have all the evidence, information, and documents that they need.
The trial date and timetable for the trial will be confirmed. This is essentially the stage where everyone gets ready for the trial.
After everything is ready and the evidence has been presented to the judge, then the trial can begin.
If you have heard the term “litigation”, you have likely also heard the term “arbitration”. Arbitration is an alternative to litigation. Arbitration is a confidential setting in which an independent arbitrator is appointed.
Arbitration is usually the preferred method of negotiation between two parties. Especially large corporations or organizations. You will likely have heard the phrase “settled out of court”. This settlement is agreed in arbitration.
This is often preferred as it will allow corporations or organizations to accept responsibility and pay the plaintiff without the press or public knowing any information. As mentioned above, arbitration is confidential.
Some very big and wealthy corporations or organizations will also potentially go to arbitration if they do not believe themselves to be liable. This is because there might be information that they don’t want in the public domain.
Even if a corporation or organization is sure that they will win in court, arbitration is usually the better option. Not only is it confidential but arbitration usually happens much quicker than litigation.
Litigation proceedings will need to wait for a judge to be available and for a court date. Litigation will also require a lot more preparation which will take a long time and cost a lot of money. Lawyers will also need to go over everything in court and present it to the judge for a verdict.
Once an arbitrator has been assigned to a case, the proceedings can begin immediately. The appointment of an arbitrator is also much quicker than the appointment of a judge. This is because a judge is appointed by the court. Those involved in the case will have little to no say in who the judge will be.
Whereas in arbitration, the arbitrator can usually be chosen and agreed upon by the parties involved. Unless there is a big disagreement over who the arbitrator should be. The arbitrator can be agreed upon and chosen very quickly. Then, the arbitration can begin.
So, those are the basics of what exactly a litigation lawyer is and, most importantly, what they do. Plus, a little information on what a litigation lawyer isn’t and doesn’t do.
We hope this helps guide you in whatever legal knowledge you need. Whether it is for your own case or perhaps you are looking to pursue a career as a litigation lawyer yourself.
Either way, this article has given you a rundown of the basics.
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