For most of your civil litigation cases, you’ll need a qualified attorney to guide or represent you through the legal actions. In this post, we’ll look at what a civil litigation lawyer can do for you, the cost of hiring an attorney and you’ll also discover when you need their services. Read on…
What is Civil Litigation?
Civil litigation is a legal process in which no criminal accusations or penalties are at stake. When two or more parties become involved in a non-criminal legal dispute, the case is presented at a trial in which plaintiffs seek compensation or other damages from defendants.
Common Civil Litigation Types
Civil litigation encompasses many different sorts of legal conflicts. Civil litigation occurs when a landlord and renter have a disagreement that proceeds to court, or when neighbours fight over property. Other common types are:
- Cases of personal injury
- Disputes over intellectual property
- Cases of medical malpractice
- Conflicts over employment or labour
- Disputes over education law
- Lawsuits involving divorce
All of these have one thing in common: there are no criminal charges involved. Most of the time, they involve money or property, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the parties merely desire action from the other party. So they need the courts to assist them in enforcing that activity.
A Civil Litigation Attorney’s Role
A “litigator” or “trial lawyer” is a lawyer who specializes in civil litigation. A civil litigation attorney’s job and obligations can be demanding and diversified. A lawyer who specializes in civil litigation must be willing to take opposing positions and embrace confrontation and controversy. They act as their clients’ advocates, committed to fighting for them in order to secure the best possible result. This field’s attorneys and litigation paralegals frequently work long hours, especially during a trial.
Civil Litigation Attorney Skills
Certain key legal skills and expertise are required for litigation practice, such as:
- Understanding of substantive and procedural law
- Advocacy abilities that are both written and spoken are essential.
- Ability to reason analytically and logically
- Capability to synthesize complex legal and factual information
- Outstanding interpersonal skills
- Familiarity with legal research techniques and software
- Client-development abilities
- Negotiation abilities
Litigation attorneys frequently represent their clients in a wide range of related proceedings, such as pretrial hearings and depositions, as well as arbitration and mediation. Both of the latter processes are designed to help the two parties achieve an agreement without expending the time and money required to go to court.
The distinction between arbitration and mediation is that arbitration is presided over by an arbitrator who listens to both sides make their case and present evidence before making a decision, whereas mediation is presided over by a mediator who engages all of the parties and assists them in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute.
Civil Litigation Attorney Education Requirements
To become a civil litigator, you must first obtain an undergraduate degree and then pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Students often take a variety of classes ranging from job discrimination to education to family law over the course of their studies. After earning their law degree, an attorney must subsequently pass their state’s bar test in order to begin practising law in their jurisdiction.
Civil litigation involves a wide range of disputes, and most litigators specialize in one or two professional areas. Among the common areas are:
- Environmental legislation
- Tenant/landlord disagreements
- Lawsuits alleging product culpability
- Personal injury lawsuits
- Disputes over intellectual property
- Lawsuits for construction defects
- Claims for medical malpractice
- Labour and employment disputes
- Lawsuits involving real estate
- Litigation involving antitrust
- Claims for workers’ compensation
- Disputes over education law
- Divorce proceedings
When Should You Hire a Civil Litigation Attorney?
Businesses and individuals may sue or be sued for civil law violations for a variety of reasons. Some civil law conflicts are mediated by mediation or in small claims court when a party to the litigation represents themselves.
A civil case may need to be heard and determined by a civil court. This is especially true when the situation may result in substantial legal implications, such as paying civil fines or monetary damages. In such cases, it may be necessary to retain the services of a civil attorney.
A product liability case is an example of this. Products liability trials can include complicated legal problems and can result in large monetary awards. A civil attorney with product liability skills can assist businesses being sued for defective products or incorrect warning labels. Alternatively, the civil attorney could assist private citizens in issuing a firm on the same grounds.
Child custody disputes are another example. A civil attorney can preserve a parent’s rights to their child and guarantee that a parent’s access to their child is not fully cut off. A civil litigation lawyer can help the non-abusive parent get full custody rights in circumstances involving a child or domestic abuse.
In terms of business law, when a company is involved in a real estate transaction, a civil attorney may be the best alternative. Buying another business or a piece of real estate is an example of this. A civil litigation attorney can bargain on behalf of their client with a landlord or an opposing lawyer. They can also design and analyze final agreements, as well as represent you in court if any disagreements develop throughout the negotiation process.
To put it simply, a party should retain a civil attorney when a civil action may result in big damages or serious repercussions and incorporates complex legal difficulties.
What to Expect from a Civil Litigation Attorney
#1. An attorney can help victims protect their legal rights and navigate the legal system.
A professional civil litigation attorney can safeguard your legal rights. They assist you in understanding the legal context of your case explaining how to use the applicable laws to your benefit. Legal jargon can be difficult to understand and scary. A civil litigation attorney will make certain that you understand the procedures and documentation, as well as all of your legal alternatives so that you can make informed judgments about your case. Furthermore, a civil litigation attorney can walk you through the whole process of filing a suit. This includes drafting and filing the necessary papers, making sure all deadlines are fulfilled and attending all hearings and depositions.
#2. Without legal representation, plaintiffs may be at a disadvantage.
While three out of every five plaintiffs choose self-representation in civil litigation matters, the American Bar Association (ABA) reports that this places those people at a substantial disadvantage. Many people underestimate the amount of time and work required to prepare their cases. This entails acquiring the relevant evidence as well as becoming familiar with the technical components of bringing a case. There will also be a substantial amount of documentation to complete and file. Making errors in the pleadings or failing to file a document on time might result in the dismissal of a case and the loss of the ability to petition the court for justice. Plaintiffs must also ensure that they gather the appropriate evidence to prove their case, which can be a substantial quantity of material and may involve expert witness testimony.
In civil litigation, the plaintiff, or the person bringing the complaint, bears the burden of proof. Those intending to file a civil case will almost certainly come up against an attorney on the opposing side, who will almost certainly have prior expertise managing lawsuits. Without the assistance, protection, and support of experienced legal representation, it can be incredibly difficult to win a lawsuit.
#3. A Civil Litigation Attorney Can Collect Evidence to Help Prove a Case
To prove a case, a plaintiff must present persuasive and thorough evidence. Without the assistance of a civil litigation attorney, knowing where to go for critical evidence for your claim can be overwhelming. An experienced civil litigation attorney knows where to look for acceptable evidence. They can usually call on a variety of expert witnesses to bolster your case. They understand how to communicate with medical providers or other specialists to bolster your case.
#4. Your attorney understands the value of your case.
It will be nearly impossible to recover enough compensation or negotiate a reasonable settlement if you do not know the value of your case. Plaintiffs may be unsure of how to appropriately quantify their past, present, and future damages. Furthermore, when it comes to so-called “non-economic damages,” it can be extremely difficult for a layperson to put a monetary value on their pain and suffering. A skilled attorney understands how to quantify both economic and non-economic damages to ensure that their client obtains the legal recompense they are entitled to.
#5. An Attorney Has the Ability to Negotiate with Insurance Companies and Defendants
In other circumstances, individuals are eager to file a lawsuit before exhausting other possibilities, such as reaching an out-of-court settlement with the at-fault party in their claim. A skilled civil litigation attorney understands how to effectively bargain with insurance companies and other parties. They can also fight for a fair settlement on behalf of the plaintiff. When a defendant learns that a plaintiff is not represented by legal counsel, he or she may be less eager to settle or attempt to prolong discussions indefinitely. An experienced civil litigation lawyer, on the other hand, knows when it’s time to fight for your rights in court and can actively represent you at trial.
#6. Your attorney may assume the financial risk of litigation.
While not all civil litigation attorneys work on a contingency basis, some may engage with a client and not be paid unless their client is compensated. According to the ABA, a contingency fee agreement requires the client to pay the attorney only if and when the case is won. As a fee for their services, the attorney often charges a specified percentage of the ultimate settlement. If you lose your lawsuit and do not receive a settlement, you will not be required to pay the civil litigation attorney cost It is crucial to note, however, that contingency agreements are most commonly employed in personal injury claims. In most situations, a plaintiff who needs the assistance of an attorney for another sort of civil litigation must pay attorney’s fees upfront.
#7. A Civil Litigation Attorney Provides Peace of Mind During a Tough Time
Filing or defending a lawsuit may be a very stressful and difficult time in anyone’s life. Furthermore, the entire legal process can be intimidating, confusing, and overwhelming. Having a devoted and skilled civil litigation attorney on your side, fighting for your interests, can alleviate some of the stress.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Civil Litigation Attorney?
How much does a civil litigation attorney in your area charge? There are numerous factors at work:
- Location geographically
- Practice area
- Case Difficulty
- Case’s length
- Attorney’s Experience
Furthermore, civil attorneys work on a variety of fee structures:
- Hourly rate: Civil attorneys’ hourly charges will vary depending on their place of practice, expertise, and operating expenditures. Rates might range from roughly $100/hour to $300/hour on average. In large metropolitan regions, specialized attorneys might command substantially greater costs.
- Flat fee: This is more common in simpler or well-defined legal issues, such as wills, bankruptcy filings, or uncontested divorces.
Clients pay the civil litigation lawyer in advance into a specific trust account through a retainer. The attorney will deduct fees based on the hourly rate as they offer their services.
- Contingency charge: A contingency fee structure requires no upfront payment from the client. Instead, if the attorney wins the lawsuit, he or she will receive a share of the settlement sum.
A Typical Civil Litigation Case’s Life Cycle
Civil litigation is often separated into stages such as inquiry, pleadings, discovery, pretrial proceedings, prospective settlement or trial, and even appeal. Discovery is often the most time-consuming and labour-intensive part of a lawsuit. Unlike how they portray them on television, civil attorneys spend relatively little time in court.
The discovery stage, during which they acquire material relevant to the case is through depositions, interrogatories, and subpoenas consume a large portion of a litigator’s time. Depositions and interrogatories are questions posed to the parties in a lawsuit under penalty of perjury, whereas a subpoena is a summons demanding information or documents from a third party. Interrogatories are written inquiries, whereas deposition questions are asked orally under oath.
Not every lawsuit proceeds through each level; in fact, the vast majority do not. The vast majority of lawsuits are settled out of court by the parties themselves. Even after a jury has begun deliberating or has reached a decision, parties might reach an agreement during a trial. They can agree to settle or “stipulate” on some aspects of the litigation while leaving others to the judge or jury.
When a case proceeds to trial, the entire process, from filing documents with the court to commencing the case to its conclusion, can take anything from a few months to several years.