Civil suit attorneys are also known as “trial lawyers” or “litigators”. They represent plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases and take care of all the aspects of the litigation process ranging from investigation to appeal.
The responsibilities of lawsuit attorney
During litigation, litigation lawyers undertake several tasks. Certain factors influence each task like the attorney’s level of experience, the nature of the dispute and client being represented. Below is an overview of their tasks
Initial Case Investigation: This is usually conducted by Civil suit attorneys to determine if there’s sufficient evidence to file a lawsuit (in plaintiff’s case) or the available evidence to defend a potential suit (in defendant’s case). The investigative process usually entails taking witness statements, interviewing clients, investigating dispute facts and so on.
Pleadings: Variety of motions are drafted on behalf of the defendant or plaintiff. Defense attorneys cooperate with customers to study the charges of the lawsuit while plaintiff attorneys prepare a summons/complaint to initiate the trial. Litigation attorneys also draft other motions like motions to dismiss, strike, amend or judgment on the pleadings.
Discovery: This process involves an exchange of pertinent information between the opposing parties. A variety of discovery devices like depositions, interrogatories, production and admission requests are used to gain relevant information pertaining the lawsuit. Civil suit attorneys may also have to go the extent of examining physical evidence, inspection of accident scenes or using information gathered from e-discovery.
Pre-Trial: In the weeks preceding trial, civil suit attorneys finalize discoveries and get ready for trial. During this time, trial lawyers consult with clients, attend pre-trial conferences, retain expert witnesses and develop litigation strategies.
Trial: Most times lawsuits filed in civil courts are settled out of court. The ones that proceed to trial keep the litigators working round the clock, presenting cases before the judge or getting ready for the next day in court. In this phase, litigators collaborate with clients and experts to draft a trial theme, develop compelling arguments, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of the case, draft and argue trial motions and prep witnesses for testimony. At trial, Litigators conduct voir dire, pick a jury and present their cases in court. It is also their job to give opening and closing statements, conduct examination and cross-examination of witnesses and craft a compelling story for the fact-finders i.e. the judge or jury.
Settlement: Settlements are common and advantageous due to the fact they remove the risks and costs of the trial. Litigators can decide to settle a case at any point during the litigation lifecycle. During settlements, litigators negotiate with opposing parties, engage in mediation and settlement conferences with the opposing parties and the judge.
Appeal: If the Civil suit attorneys are dissatisfied with the trial, they can appeal the case. Trial Lawyers draft post-trial motions, develop appellate strategies, pinpoint and preserve issues for appeal, research procedural matters, draft appellate documents and present oral arguments in appellate courts. In complex or significant situations, services of attorneys with experience in appellate practice might be employed.
For those not in the legal sphere or aspiring litigators, these are the civil suit attorneys play in the trial. They are one of the most important personnel in legal practice.