In law school, many students share disdain for the commonly dreaded class which teaches the rules of civil procedure. It comes early in law school – year one. This topic has the fantastic yet terrifying goals of teaching a student how to interpret the law. Also, how to read rules precisely, and how to speak what seems like a foreign language. A study of “how to think like a lawyer,” if you will.
Students generally dislike civil procedure because it seems most foreign to them, and in fact civil litigation is mysterious to most people. Think of all of the legal shows on television, or the popular legal Netflix series! Almost all of them are about criminal law. No one really has prior exposure to civil procedure. It’s no wonder why so many clients come into our firm with civil law issues which could result in a trial and ask- what exactly IS civil procedure?
Civil Procedure as a Weapon?
Allow me to go back to law school for a second. I had a law professor who told the class, in The Art of War fashion, that a lawyer has many “weapons” in litigation and particularly at trial. One arrow in a good attorney’s quiver, he went on to tell us, is a solid understanding of the civil procedure rules. There are a good number of attorneys who do not have this arrow in the quiver. Some carry fear or disdain of the rules in law school led them to avoid further study in their practice.
In any legal action where one party seeks monetary damages or specific performance from another party, they must follow these procedural rules. In court, that means following that court’s rules of civil procedure. It is the when and how to file documents, when and how to present motions asking the court to do something, as a few examples.
If an attorney does not fully understand the rules of civil procedure and, for example, isn’t prepared to argue the language of the rules on the spot in court. As a result, that attorney isn’t able to effectively utilize what could be a case-dispositive weapon. In other words, there may be a procedural issue that becomes apparent or is spotted early on for later use. An attorney with a solid understanding of the rules has the mic-dropping “bomb” that could decide the case’s outcome.
You Need an Attorney that Understands Procedure!
Deciding where to file a case, knowing what laws will apply, whether the case can be removed to federal court, who can remove or remand a case. These are civil procedure-based questions. Many firms tend to specialize in either criminal or civil law. Some specialize in criminal or civil trials. At Desautel Law, we have decades of trial experience in civil litigation and use of the rules of civil procedure. This experience is spread out amongst and between the attorneys on staff. By speaking with one of our attorneys, you’ll be able to trust that the attorney working on your case can and will spot the procedural issues that are sometimes overlooked.
To learn more about how the attorneys at Desautel Law can help you, call us at 401.477.0023.