Legal disputes and litigations are always serious business. These are stressful and difficult by design. And one thing is for sure, these processes require professional aid. That is where litigation attorneys come into play. The litigation process is a careful one that serves to prepare both sides for negotiations and an eventual trial. The preferred goal is for all disputes to be resolved by means of settlement. But that is not always the case in practice. Usually what happens is that all involved parties explore the facts, their strengths and weaknesses. If one side is not willing to settle on the proposed terms, it can only lead to a trial. Being a good lawyer requires multiple skills. Communication and negotiation skills are vital. But most importantly, they need to be able to present a convincing legal argument in your favour.
1. Training and education
A litigation lawyer needs to have their degree that is also accredited by proper institutions. These institutions vary from region to region. The base is always a four-year degree followed by even more time spent practising the trait. In order for them to get their licence, they need to pass the bar exam and be admitted. This goes for every state they wish to practice the trait in. Each state has its own bar exam that needs to be passed. It is in their interest to have as many regions under their wing as possible. This way, they can take on bigger clients.
2. The initial investigation
The first thing a lawyer needs to do is to carefully listen to the client. This way, they can get an understanding of a client’s situation. Using their training, experience and education, the chosen lawyer will determine if a case can be made. Of course, not all cases are simple. Most will require additional investigation and legal research. This is all done in order to be able to properly advise the client on the best course of action. This initial stage always involves a careful review of the client’s documents. Most likely, any relevant contracts that were made. Often enough, experts in different fields need to be consulted. For instance, construction disputes require consultations with a civil engineer, etc. This expert could, later on, become a witness for the case. This is arguably the most important step in the litigation process. the more information the lawyer gathers, the better the outcome.
This is another one of the early tasks for a litigation lawyer to prepare. Pleads are written complaints that initiate the suit. This, in turn, requires the defendant’s written answer to said complaint. Again, this is where all that research and investigation from earlier comes into play. The better the pleading is made, the better the chances for a favourable outcome. There is an art to this as well. Skill is vital in drafting a pleading. It needs to be specific enough to present a valid case to the court. On the other hand, it needs to be flexible. Flexibility is important because you may not possess certain facts that the other party does. The pleading and the defence as well, need to have enough breathing room to handle all the twists and turns that can happen. That means not drafting it overly specific.
Mediation is where both parties meet and try to negotiate a settlement. This is done in the presence of an independent party that is appointed by the court. This person is known as a mediator. Mediation is compulsory, and that is not negotiable. It can occur at many different stages of litigation. If a dispute can be settled, it reduces everyone’s workload, saves time and money. Ultimately, it is the client’s choice whether they want to settle on the terms presented or not. All that a lawyer can do is try and maximize the outcome for their client. During this process, the lawyer needs to provide advice and recommendations about any such offers. The leverage each side has is the threat of continued litigation. Ultimately, taking the case to court is always an option. An expensive one. Some may benefit more than others from a prolonged litigation process.
5. The trial
If all else fails, the case will go to trial. This can happen for multiple reasons. But there is a commonality. And that is, a settlement cannot be reached. Sometimes an involved party is so certain of their case that they believe they will gain much more from a trial than a settlement. On the other hand, it happens that a client is not willing to settle no matter what. Even after all the advice and recommendations from their litigation lawyers. Most of their work and efforts occurred before the trial. Now, it all depends on how well the cases have been made. A jury trial is aimed at persuading an audience. This is where all that work is put to the test. With a little luck, the jury will see it your way.
Ultimately, there is always the appeals process. If the trial goes badly for an involved party, the lawyers can file for an appeal. This involves further research into why the court may be wrong in its initial decision. Whatever transpires, there are plenty of options and roads to take.