When two or more parties become involved in a legal dispute seeking money or another form of compensation that is not part of a criminal case or sentence, it is considered to be a civil litigation. Civil litigation distinguishes the work of lawyers in the non-criminal stream of actions in law. Civil litigation includes representations made in court as well as the pre-trial and post-trial procedures. Lawyers that specialize in civil litigation are known as “litigators,” or “trial lawyers”. Litigators represent clients across a broad spectrum of associated proceedings, that include pre-trial, trial and post-trial proceedings. These include but are not limited to such things as pretrial hearings and depositions; arbitration and mediation; representing their client(s) during trial; and post-trial procedures such as costs and enforcement of a judgement.
Areas of Civil Litigation
Civil litigation encompasses a broad range of non-criminal disputes. Litigators often specialize in one or a few areas of civil law. Within these areas are even more specific specialty areas that a litigator may have a niche in. Common areas of civil litigation include but are not limited to:
- Antitrust litigation
- Education law disputes
- Employment and labor disputes
- Environmental law
- Family law (includes all matters involving family structures such as divorce, child custody, adoption, emancipation, common law marriages, etc.)
- Intellectual property disputes
- Landlord/tenant disputes
- Medical malpractice claims and lawsuits
- Personal injury claims and lawsuits
- Product liability claims and lawsuits
- Real estate lawsuits
- Workers compensation claims and lawsuits
The above are just a few of the many different areas of civil litigation. Within these different areas are many different sub-specialty or niche areas. An example of this is that technically, medical malpractice, product liability and workers compensation claims, all fall under the umbrella of personal injury law. Within these specific areas of personal injury law, are many subspecialty areas. One example of this is a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice may specialize in particular kinds of medical malpractice claims such as anaesthesiology mistakes, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, wrong surgery, to name just a few medical malpractice subspecialty areas.
Key Legal Litigation Skills and Knowledge
A successful litigator needs to have the skills for challenging and diverse responsibilities. Being a litigator tends to be an adversarial process because it is one (or more) party against another party (or parties) that are pitted against each other to prove that the other side is in the wrong. The following are just a few of the essential skills a litigator needs to have to be successful:
- Ability to synthesize complex legal materials and evidence
- Analytical and logical reasoning skills and abilities
- Superior client development and interpersonal skills
- Mastery of substantive and procedural law
- Exceptional legal research skills
- Knowledge, understanding, and being able to successfully use the latest legal Software
- Top level negotiation skills
- Strong written and oral advocacy skills
- Excellent negotiation skills
Even though it is highly important to have a good legal education and training, simply having these does not guarantee that a litigator will be successful. Much of successful litigation has to do with a litigator’s personality, a good intuition, and a tenacity for protecting the rights of their clients.
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