What is Civil Litigation?
If you talk to successful trial lawyers
, they will typically agree that most cases are won or lost before the trial ever begins. It is the pretrial process—in which evidence is gathered, facts and case theories are developed, witnesses are interviewed and deposed, and various motions are filed, argued, and decided by the judge—which occupies the vast majority of the time and effort of civil litigation attorneys (known as "litigators") and has the greatest influence on the outcome of a case or trial.
Litigation involves the process of preparing cases for trial and, if necessary, presenting the case at trial and conducting appeals. Over 90% of all civil cases are settled without having a trial. As an advocate for a client, the litigator must develop the best legal theories possible and gather the facts to support those theories; the litigator's goal is to achieve the best result at trial or a favorable settlement without a trial. Successful litigators typically proceed on the theory that the best settlements are achieved on the strength of the case developed during trial preparation.
Some litigators are generalists who work in diverse areas of the law. Others are specialists in particular practice areas, such as tax, patent, antitrust, labor and employment, and torts. No matter what their specialty area, litigators must have strong oral and written communication skills; must be able to work effectively with their clients, expert witnesses, and opposing counsel; and must have strong analytical skills that allow them to take creative approaches in representing their client's interest. Because such a large percentage of cases settle, it is also critically important that litigators have excellent negotiation skills.
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