Definition of Litigation Lawyer

Updated July 19, 2017

Litigation is a law term that describes the legal steps of settling a case between two or more private parties. Private parties can include individuals and businesses. Litigation lawyers specialise in settling lawsuits between these private parties. They can litigate inside the courtroom as well as outside the courtroom. Litigation lawyers can take a variety of cases in both civil and criminal trials.

Types of Cases

Civil cases are cases between private parties settling a dispute. These types of cases include those dealing with divorce and personal injury as well as selling property and writing contracts. They can be between individuals or businesses. Civil cases are tried in civil courts and usually result in monetary compensation. Criminal cases, however, are cases in which an individual is prosecuted by the state or federal government. These cases are handled in a criminal court and result in jail time or probation if the defendant is found guilty.

Settling Disputes

To settle cases, most litigation lawyers find alternatives to using a courtroom. One avenue they frequent is Alternative Dispute Resolution, which is a procedure in which disputes can be discussed outside of a courtroom in a neutral setting. It usually involves arbitration or mediation. Arbitration is a process in which an experienced legal professional hears both sides of an argument and issues a ruling. Mediation is a less formal alternative in which a neutral third party negotiates with both sides and tries to find a compromise between the parties.


Litigation lawyers utilise several forms of payment, depending on their preferences. Contingency fees are usually used in civil cases. These fees constitute a certain percentage of the recovery fee if the litigation lawyer's client wins the case. A flat fee is a certain dollar amount that the litigation lawyer and client agree upon before the lawyer takes the case. The lawyer will estimate the amount of work the case will involve and determine a fee based on that estimate. An hourly rate is another popular form of payment. The lawyer and client will come up with a rate and the client is billed based on the number of hours the lawyer worked on the case.

Litigation Usefulness

Litigation lawyers can be quite helpful, even if the client is unsure of going through with the lawsuit. They can offer advice and make sure that the client's legal rights are being protected. Litigation lawyers can help the client decide the best approach to winning the case.

How to Become a Litigator

Law students can specialise in litigation during law school. Students wishing to specialise in litigation focus on classes that provide instruction in courtroom proceedings, dispute settlement and client interaction. Usually, the students will do an internship with a litigation firm before graduation. Once they graduate, students must pass the bar exam of the state of their choosing to be able to practice law.

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About the Author

Laura Nyaronga began writing for pleasure in 2000. Her work has been published in "Playgirl" magazine, and she enjoys writing fiction as well as articles pertaining to child-rearing, gardening and crafts. Nyaronga has a Bachelor of Science in education from Iowa State University.