types of litigation lawyers

Types of Litigators

When it comes to the law, there is no one-size-fits-all attorney, and even among attorneys, there are many different types of litigators. While all litigators are lawyers, not all lawyers are litigators, and understanding the distinctions can help you distinguish your own firm’s unique strengths and identity. If you’re ready to explore PR possibilities, reach out to a seasoned legal PR firm for the skilled guidance and insight you’re looking for. 

Litigation Basics

Litigation is the formal legal process by which legal disputes are resolved in court in accordance with specific procedures, which have both federal and state applications. A wide range of civil claims are addressed via litigation, and this is in addition to criminal litigation. The basic steps of litigation include all the following:

  • The plaintiff – or the person who initiates the legal claim – files the complaint in court, and in the process, they state the legal grounds upon which their claim is based. In personal injury claims, this means alleging that the defendant’s negligence caused them to suffer damages.
  • The defendant – or the person identified in the claim – is served with the necessary court paperwork.
  • The defendant can respond to the claim by filing an answer. 
  • Initial motions are filed by both parties, which often involves procuring specific forms of information from one another.
  • From here, discovery unfolds, which refers to both sides continuing to request specific relevant documentation and can include the court compelling the exchange of information. 
  • Pretrial conferences can occur at virtually any point in the process, and they afford both sides the opportunity to address scheduling conflicts and discuss settlement options.
  • All of this culminates in a trial – if the matter is not settled – at which the court hands down its legally binding ruling. Unless this ruling is successfully appealed, both sides are required to abide by it. 

It’s important to note that the term litigation is not reserved only for what happens in court. The buildup to the court case is all part of the litigation process, and even cases that are ultimately settled are still considered litigated.

The Most Common Types of Litigators

As mentioned, litigation can take a range of forms, but some are much more common than others. Keep in mind that whatever type of litigation occurs, there are specific procedures to follow, including both civil and criminal procedures. Every case that goes to court should have a skilled litigator with experience in the particular area of law in question. 

Civil Litigation

Civil litigation is the brand of litigation in which most types are classified. Civil litigation, very generally, refers to cases in which one party seeks compensation from the other party for damages they’ve suffered as a result of that other party’s negligence, which is distinct from the criminal sanctions sought in criminal litigation. Common examples of civil litigation include all the following:

  • Personal injury cases, such as traffic accidents, slip and fall accidents, product liability claims, and beyond
  • Workplace injury claims
  • Tenant and landlord disputes
  • Intellectual property (IP) disputes
  • Medical malpractice cases
  • Wrongful death cases
  • Construction disputes
  • Real estate disputes
  • Antitrust cases

While the vast majority of these cases are settled before they ever reach a courtroom, this doesn’t negate the fact that they are matters of litigation that move through the process prior to settlement. 

Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases are so prevalent they deserve some attention of their own. The elements of personal injury cases include all the following:

  • The plaintiff, or the party alleged to be at fault, owed the defendant, or the person bringing the claim, a duty of care, which means they had a responsibility to their safety. A prime example is the duty of care motorists owe one another. 
  • The defendant failed to uphold the duty of care owed, such as when a motorist drives drunk, speeds, or is dangerously distracted.  
  • The defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of the injury-causing accident.
  • The plaintiff suffered legal damages, which are losses that are covered by the law as a result. 

When it comes to personal injury claims, legal damages can include all the following:

  • Property damage
  • Medical bills, including those related to ongoing healthcare needs
  • Lost earnings, including lost earning potential
  • The physical and emotional pain and suffering endured

Family Law Litigation

Family law is a branch of the law that often requires litigation. The involved disputes directly affect the parties’ financial and parental rights, which make them primary concerns. Many family law disputes focus on the terms of the divorce and post-decree modifications of these terms, including:

  • Child custody arrangements
  • Child support
  • The division of marital assets
  • Alimony 

Family law also addresses concerns such as paternity, guardianship, adoption, and domestic violence. Many family law cases are settled out of court, but because emotions tend to play a starring role and the stakes are high, many others require the court’s intervention.

Business and Commercial Litigation

Business and commercial litigation cases arise in relation to disputes between individuals and business entities, between separate business entities, or between a business entity and its vendors, investors, or other parties. There can also be internal cases between shareholders, board members, officers, and owners. Common business and commercial disputes include the following:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Breach of contract
  • Fraud
  • Defamation
  • Copyright or trademark infringement 
  • Unfair competition
  • Indemnity, which relates to protections against legal liability
  • Construction disputes

Contract Litigation

Contracts play a big role in our lives, including in all the following ways:

  • In mortgage agreements
  • In rental and lease agreements for houses, apartments, and vehicles
  • In contracts related to work that is hired out
  • In nondisclosure agreements
  • In product warranties, which are consumer contracts

When contract disputes arise, which is not uncommon, the law guides their resolution, and this generally means litigation. 

Public Interest Litigation

Public interest litigation refers to lawsuits that are filed by the courts in an effort to afford community protection in relation to their overall well-being. When a corporate entity or individual’s actions, which are generally related to environmental concerns and public health issues, impede the safety or progress of society at large, it can lead to litigation and resulting legal ramifications.

Patent Litigation

Patents and trademarks are closely guarded by the individuals and entities that own them. When one party infringes on another’s intellectual property, the party who has been infringed upon can pursue enforcement of their legal rights through litigation. A successful patent litigation case generally ends with financial compensation, and the defendant immediately halts the use of the trademark or patent in question. 

The Advantages of Resolving Civil Matters via Litigation

If you have a civil claim, there are advantages associated with resolving the matter through litigation, including:

  • Litigation allows you to conclude the matter based on the evidence and in accordance with the law’s exacting standards. 
  • You do not need the other party’s cooperation to resolve your case through litigation. The court will ensure their participation or will make a final judgment absent their input.
  • When you take a case to court, you help to establish precedent, which can impact similar cases that follow. The decisions that judges hand down are based on legal precedent, and individual cases like yours play an important role in this process. 

When it comes to whether or not resolving your concern in court is the best path forward, there are additional considerations to keep in mind, including:

  • The legal process is both time-consuming and costly.
  • If your case makes its way to court, you’ll have no input in relation to the judge who is assigned to it or in relation to the jury who hears it, which can work to your disadvantage if neither is sympathetic to your unique case. 

Settling Outside of Court

Taking your case all the way to court is, as mentioned, a lengthy and expensive process that comes with no guarantees regarding results. This is why most civil cases are settled out of court, which involves reaching a mutually acceptable resolution between yourselves – with the skilled legal guidance of your respective attorneys. As long as both sides are willing to negotiate fairly and reasonably, settling tends to be a less expensive and speedier process that allows both sides to retain some control over the results.  

A Focused Legal PR Pro Can Help

If you run a legal firm or any form of legal enterprise, your success hinges on your ability to build your business, bolster your brand, and polish your image, which is a tall order. As a legal professional, your focus has to rest squarely on your client’s needs, and you’re unlikely to have the time – not to mention the experience and skill – necessary to successfully tackle this nuanced undertaking. 

The PR pros at Newsroom PR dedicate their public relations savvy to helping firms like yours hone their images, tell their stories, and connect with their target audiences, and we’re here for you, too. Learn more about types of litigators and what we can do to help by contacting us online or calling us at 213-422-2738 today.