Many people have engaged with the legal system at some point. Some have engaged with it in small ways, such as signing a “terms and conditions” clause or getting married, and others in significant ways, such as inheritance disputes, divorce, or criminal cases.
Still, when we encounter a dispute that calls for more exposure to the legal system, the system can feel somewhat unfamiliar and overwhelming. That is where attorneys come in to fill the gap.
Despite the existing stereotypes about lawyers, finding a good one can help change the trajectory of your case.
However, we don’t hire just any lawyer. Attorneys often have a specific area of law that they practice. Some lawyers practice criminal law, while others practice civil law.
Civil lawyers are our topic of interest today. So, what does a civil attorney do?
This article will first define a civil attorney and then outline the roles of a civil litigation lawyer. Keep reading to know what civil attorneys do and how they can help you.
What Is a Civil Attorney?
A civil rights attorney, also known as a litigator, deals with non-criminal legal disputes. A litigator is a specific lawyer a client hires to pursue or defend a civil lawsuit.
A civil law attorney can specialize in various fields, including:
- Personal injury law
- Employment law
- Family law
- Immigration law
- Business law
- Real estate law
- Landlord and tenant law
To understand a civil law attorney better, we should first differentiate civil law from criminal law.
Generally, civil law focuses on behaviors that cause damage or injury to a party. This is done by pursuing lawsuits. When one party is liable for the injurious acts, the consequences involve monetary awards or injunctions.
Alternatively, criminal law serves to punish those found guilty of committing crimes. While civil law typically involves disputes between individuals and organizations, the latter addresses crimes breaking societal rules.
With this basic understanding of civil law, we can discuss what civil law attorneys do.
What Does a Civil Law Attorney Do?
Civil attorneys participate in the lawsuit process from the beginning to the resolution. Depending on the law firm’s size, the process can involve one attorney overseeing the case from the start to the end.
However, it can also involve multiple attorneys participating in each step based on their specialty. A litigator guides a client through the same steps, whether one attorney or several.
So, what does a civil law attorney do?
Initial case investigation
A litigator representing a plaintiff often conducts an initial case investigation to establish whether there is enough evidence to warrant filing a lawsuit.
On the other hand, what does a civil defense attorney do? The defendant’s attorney assesses the evidence to defend his client against a potential or existing suit.
During this investigation, the civil litigation attorney locates witnesses, takes witness statements, gathers documents, interviews the clients, and investigates the facts that led to the disagreement.
Civil litigation attorneys first initiate pre-litigation settlement negotiations to solve the problem before filing a lawsuit.
Several pleadings and motions must be filed with the court on behalf of the plaintiff or the defendant.
A plaintiff’s attorney will draft and file a complaint to initiate the lawsuit. On the other hand, the defense attorney drafts responses and sometimes counterclaims responding to the initial complaint.
Defense attorneys work closely with their clients to investigate the lawsuit’s allegations and frame these responses.
Litigators draft several pre-trial motions to strike or dismiss evidence or change the trial’s location. They can file motions for judgments by pleadings to eliminate the need for a court appearance.
The discovery process
The discovery step of a suit entails exchanging relevant information between the involved parties. Litigators utilize various discovery devices to obtain this information.
They can use interrogations involving a series of written questions that the other party must answer – in writing and under penalty of perjury.
These attorneys can also utilize depositions, which involve oral questions from the other party’s attorney. Depositions are administered in an office setting and under oath.
Alternative discovery methods include requesting documents possessed by the other party and making requests for admission. A request for admission typically begs the other party to admit or deny specific parts of the case under oath.
Litigators can also scrutinize physical evidence and gather and analyze information collected during e-discovery. However, they mostly rely on experts to offer these services. The experts bring in written reports that can be admitted at trial but can also be called to testify.
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Litigators further draft and contend discovery-related motions. For example, they can present a motion compelling the other side to respond to discovery requests if they hadn’t done so within the stated period.
When gathering information, identifying issues, and formulating a case strategy, the discovery process is critical to litigators.
The weeks preceding the trial mark the time to wind up discovery and prepare for court. Civil attorneys, at this point, discuss with and counsel their clients, recall expert witnesses, appear in pre-trial sessions, and create trial plans based on the available evidence.
The lawyers carry out pre-trial depositions of experts and key witnesses. They might also compose demonstrative evidence that will serve as trial exhibits in court and pre-trial motions, including those involving the admissibility of specific evidence at trial.
When a lawsuit proceeds to trial, civil law attorneys take time to prepare what they will present before the judge the following day or on the next trial date.
The lawyers often work with expert witnesses and their clients to develop a trial theme. They categorize the strengths and weaknesses of a case to establish persuasive arguments. The attorneys further prepare the witnesses and their clients for testimony.
After this, the process of selecting a jury, called the vior dire, begins. Both parties of the lawsuit ensure the jury selected is impartial to any side through this vetting process.
The civil litigation attorneys then present their cases in court, beginning with opening statements, arguments, and closing remarks, all in front of the judge or jury.
The defense and plaintiff’s attorneys craft their case versions based on testimony and evidence and conduct post-trial interviews on the jury.
If you have been wondering, “what does a civil rights attorney do” here is one of their roles. Litigators fight for your rights by getting you the settlement you deserve for your damages.
According to a study by the Cornell Law School, 66.9% or two-thirds of civil cases are settled before trial. That means the most crucial role of a civil litigation attorney is to pursue an out-of-court settlement with the defense side.
The typical ways through which your lawyer can pursue an out-of-court settlement for you include:
This is where the involved parties and their lawyers meet to reach an agreement. Negotiation is part of almost all civil cases, so an excellent civil attorney must be a good negotiator.
Here, the parties and their lawyers meet with a neutral third party- the mediator. The mediator is not equivalent to a judge- meaning they cannot order any party to do anything.
Instead, the mediator attempts to convince the parties to agree.
Arbitration also involves the two parties meeting with a third party, but this time, an arbitrator. Arbitrators don’t work for the government. Private companies employ them, so they are paid by the parties involved in the case.
Unlike a mediator, an arbitrator is like a judge; they will hear both sides of the case and make a binding decision for both parties. When parties go to arbitration, they sign an agreement to abide by what the arbitrator decides.
Sometimes people engaging in a business transaction sign a contract agreeing to use arbitration to settle any dispute arising from the transaction.
In all these settlement processes, litigation attorneys create settlement brochures, agreements, and other materials to record any agreement reached.
The appeals process
Sometimes a case does not go in favor of the client, and the client chooses to appeal the ruling. In that case, their lawyer will be responsible for the appeals process.
Remember, clients, do not choose to appeal because they don’t like the trial outcome. The attorney must present sufficient evidence showing why the trial court’s decision was unsatisfactory based on issues arising from the trial, such as admitting evidence that should not have been accepted.
At the appeals, civil attorneys are also responsible for drafting post-trial motions, conserving subjects for appeal, developing appellate strategies, collecting evidence for the appellate record, and presenting oral opinions before appellate courts.
Civil case lawyers can seek assistance from attorneys specializing in appellate practice if the case proves particularly complex.
Contact Our Civil Litigation Attorney
Overall, what does a civil litigation attorney do? A civil law attorney is responsible for representing their client in civil or criminal litigation cases.
Many people think that a litigation attorney represents a plaintiff in civil suits. However, the same litigation attorneys defend against these types of claims.
Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil lawsuit, Legal Giant can provide you with legal representation from the beginning to the end of your case.
We have the best litigators who will work with you to negotiate a fair settlement if possible, but we are fully prepared to advocate for you at trial.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.