Litigation lawyers work on a variety of legal disputes. They help clients resolve their dispute out of court to eliminate the cost and risk involved in going to trial.
They file required pleadings, collect substantial evidence, prepare witnesses and create trial strategies based on available facts. They also analyze a case’s strengths and weaknesses.
Representation in Court
Many civil lawsuits cannot proceed without the assistance of a skilled litigation attorney. This is especially true in cases involving personal injury or wrongful death, landlord-tenant disputes and criminal matters like DUIs and DWIs.
Litigation attorneys will spend the early days of a case meeting with clients and reviewing details in order to develop a strategy. They will also advise clients on whether they should settle the case out of court or take it to trial.
The discovery process is where litigators request information from the opposing party, including witnesses and documents. They may also conduct their own e-discovery or hire someone to help them obtain electronically stored information (ESI). This helps the legal team have a complete understanding of all available evidence and weaknesses in the opposing position so they can better advise the client regarding settlement negotiations or proceeding to trial. They will also make various discovery-related motions throughout the course of the case.
Preparation for Trial
Litigation attorneys work around the clock to present cases to judges when cases go to trial. During this time, they assemble expert witnesses and prepare demonstrative evidence to be used as trial exhibits. They also review the case’s strengths and weaknesses and create appealing arguments to support their side of the story.
They may also conduct pre-trial depositions of experts and key witnesses, as well as draft and argue pre-trial motions. Litigation lawyers are also responsible for preparing questions for their opposing counsel to use during interrogatories, which are written questions that the other party must answer in writing under oath.
Some people dream of becoming a litigation lawyer in part because of the law shows they watched as kids like L.A. Law, The Practice and Law & Order. But it’s a tough job. During trials, litigators operate on adrenaline and caffeine, often staying up late nights to finish their preparation. In fact, many lawyers remember their first real trial as a life-changing experience.
Preparing for an Appeal
Sometimes the trial doesn’t go as planned, and litigation attorneys must help clients decide whether they have grounds to appeal. This can include reading the decision, identifying grounds for an appeal, drafting post-trial motions and gathering evidence for the appellate record.
During this stage, a lawyer can also take oral depositions of witnesses and gather documents that might prove relevant to the case. Litigation attorneys can also send subpoenas to obtain important information from the opposing side. They can also ask the other party questions under oath, known as interrogatories.
Litigation attorneys will also review and advise their clients about possible settlements or handling the case out of court. They will also write and argue pre-trial motions, like a motion to change the venue of trial or to dismiss a piece of evidence. They may also be responsible for obtaining expert witnesses to testify on behalf of their client. They may also use a computerized system to track their cases and information.
According to a study conducted by Harvard Law School’s Access to Justice Lab, litigants representing themselves in civil lawsuits must perform almost 200 discrete tasks throughout the process. These include finding the right court, correctly interpreting the law, collecting and compiling evidence, filing motions and negotiating settlements.
Litigation attorneys are often called upon to assist with appeals, which must be filed within a short time period after a trial. They are required to draft post-trial motions, identify and preserve issues for appeal, develop appellate strategies, gather evidence for the record on appeal, research procedural issues, and prepare written arguments for oral presentation before an appellate court.
They must be familiar with recent trends in substantive law, and have experience briefing cases on appeal. They must also be able to communicate their legal arguments clearly and concisely to judges and other attorneys. They should be aware that their decisions may have a significant impact on the lives of those involved in the case.