While most people have heard of a litigation lawyers, litigators and litigation generally, it is rare to find a non-attorney who is well versed in exactly what these lawyers do. Today’s blog post will explain all of the different tasks litigators engage in, provide the distinctions between litigation lawyers and those lawyers who focus on transactional issues, and explain why it matters for your case.
Transactional Work vs. Litigation
Transactional attorneys conduct research, review and draft contracts and other documents, and advise clients on compliance with laws and regulations, usually in the hopes of helping their clients avoid litigation (a wonderful thing – these attorneys are highly skilled at thinking ahead). Litigation lawyers, on the other hand, are the ones filing claims or defending against them, appearing in court, advising clients on legal strategies, and advocating on behalf of their clients in front of opposing attorneys and judges. Some overlap between the two types of legal practice occurs.
Litigators, for example: research the law before filing court documents, interview witnesses, review expert reports (if needed for the case), and investigate the facts by reviewing all of the related evidence and documents. While litigation lawyers are prepared to take their cases to trial, the overwhelming majority of cases end up settling out of court. In these cases, the attorneys still might spend some time in court, usually arguing motions.
Despite the areas of overlap, most attorneys tend to predominantly specialize in either litigation or transactional work, although smaller firms like ours usually have attorneys who frequently practice in both areas. It is important for potential clients to consider their needs, and then select an attorney and firm which best aligns with those needs. For example, a small firm may be preferred if you require both transactional and litigation help, or if you need assistance in a particular area of law (environmental, corporate/business, etc.).
Daily Work of Litigation Lawyers
The work that litigators do in relation to preparing a case for court is the work which makes them invaluable for any case that may lead to legal action. While transactional attorneys work to bring parties together and avoid future litigation, litigation lawyers are essential for cases seeking to win in court:
- They analyze the claims their client(s) may have.
- They are skilled negotiators, and work to discover all evidence and file motions.
- They know which pieces of evidence to highlight and which to plan defenses against.
- They understand the procedures for how a trial is conducted, and the rules for submitting evidence.
- They also know how to solicit testimony from their witnesses as well as what to ask witnesses brought against their client.
It is because of their experiences gathered from being in court often that litigators must be preferred by individuals or businesses seeking to litigate their claims. Litigators may also be preferred for alternative dispute resolution processes, such as arbitration.
Choosing an attorney based on matching up the type of law your case falls under and whether you need more transactional or litigation help are equally important to your decision making. It is of seminal importance that one hires a litigator for cases which require litigation skills in the courtroom; not every attorney (or law firm, for that matter) has developed these skills and a track record of success in court.
If you need representation in court on any environmental, energy/utility, or regulatory matters, trust in the skill set and experience of Desautel Law. Email us or call 401.477.0023 to schedule a consultation with one of our litigation lawyers today.