A litigation lawyer is a solicitor or barrister who specializes in contentious matters and lawsuits. A litigation lawyer represents his clients at all stages of a lawsuit from get up for trial, briefing counsel and is responsible for carrying the lawsuit through the court process.
What does a litigation lawyer do?
The work of a litigation lawyer focuses exclusively on lawsuits to try and win the case. Most of the time, litigation lawyers handle a lawsuit in court, but ideally most clients try to mediate or settle a lawsuit out of court to avoid high costs of litigation. There are many different types of litigation including civil, tax, commercial, probate, financial services/regulatory, criminal, matrimonial and divorce, construction, intellectual property, insolvency and bankruptcy lawyers, personal injury, shipping and insurance litigation. Some large multinational companies or financial institutions even have their own in-house litigation specialist.
A litigation lawyers prepares for trial application, drafts affidavits from expert witnesses, provides advisory opinion and represents their clients in court.
The process of litigation
“A litigation lawyers prepares for trial application, drafts affidavits from expert witnesses, provides advisory opinion and represents their clients in court,” explains Ricky Mui, Director of Robert Walters’ Legal & Compliance Division.
A litigation lawyer needs to prepare the get up for trial before the law suit is filed and this includes research, discovery of documents, gathering substantial evidence, advising the client if the matter should go to trial or should be settled before court. During the pre-trial period, after the suit has been filed, a litigation lawyer will file required pleadings, gather substantial evidence for trial, take depositions from expert witnesses and file and argue interlocutory motions. They will also need to communicate with the opposing counsel and prepare their client and witnesses to stand trial. During the trial, a litigation lawyer represents his client in the courtroom as well as handles any appeals that the client is allowed to make. This requires a solid knowledge of trial advocacy.
What to expect on the job
“A good litigation lawyer needs to have good analytical skills, strong advocacy and public speaking skills as well as good organisation,” says Mui.
Litigation is often very detail oriented, and a litigation lawyer can sometimes find himself having to file suits against multiple counter-parties for a single case. When working on large-scale lawsuits, a litigation lawyer may often brief external counsel (sometimes even QC – Queen’s Counsel) and also have a team of junior lawyers to help with more remedial litigation tasks such as collecting of evidence, discovery of documents and other matters. Smaller suits are sometimes settled out of court to help the client save some money.
Litigation is sometimes a long drawn out process, as there are many legal procedures that need to be followed before a case can be settled or taken to trial and sometimes these decisions go on appeal for re-trial as well. The bureaucracy of court systems and regulations and their corresponding waiting times further extend the litigation process, as all bases need to be covered. Litigation is sometimes a long and complicated procedure, but for a patient and passionate lawyer, the reward of winning a case merits the effort.
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