A civil attorney, also known as a civil litigation lawyer, is a lawyer who specializes in civil law matters, such as family law cases, personal injury lawsuits, legal issues that arise under business or certain finance laws, employment law claims, and real estate matters. These lawyers are typically hired by private individuals who wish to pursue a civil lawsuit or need someone to represent them against a civil law claim.
Thus, if you are involved in a dispute with another individual or business and require legal assistance, you should contact a local civil litigation lawyer for further guidance.
When to Hire a Civil Attorney
Businesses and private individuals can sue or be sued for a wide range of civil law violations. Some civil law disputes can be resolved through mediation or settled in a small claims court where a party will represent themselves.
Other times, a civil lawsuit may need to be heard and decided by a civil court. This is especially true when a matter can lead to serious legal consequences, such as having to pay civil fines or a large amount of monetary damages. Thus, in these instances, it may be necessary to hire lawyers that handle civil cases.
For example, a party to a products liability lawsuit should strongly consider hiring a civil attorney. Products liability cases often involve complex legal issues and can result in high damages awards.
Civil lawyers who have experience with products liability issues can help defend businesses being sued for defective products or improper warning labels. Alternatively, civil lawyers can also help private individuals sue a business based on these same reasons.
Another scenario where it may be in a party’s best interest to hire a civil attorney is when dealing with child custody issues. A civil attorney can assist in protecting a parent’s rights over their child and can make sure that a parent is not completely cut off from seeing their child. In cases involving child or domestic abuse, a civil lawyer can also help the non-abusive parent to gain full custody over their child.
A civil attorney may also be useful when a business is involved in a real estate transaction, such as acquiring another business or purchasing an expensive property. In such cases, a civil attorney can negotiate with a landlord or the opposing counsel, can draft and review final agreements, and provide representation in court should a dispute arise during negotiations.
Therefore, when a civil lawsuit may result in significant damages or severe consequences (e.g., losing a child, bankrupting a business, etc.) and contains many complex legal issues, that is when a party should hire lawyers that handle civil cases.
What to Expect from Your Civil Attorney
Depending on the facts of a case, civil attorneys may provide a number of different services and can perform many types of tasks. For example, during the pretrial stages of a lawsuit, a civil attorney can assist in the discovery process. This may include deposing essential witnesses, hiring expert witnesses, devising a discovery plan, serving discovery requests on the opposing party, and filing documents with the court.
If the parties cannot agree on a settlement or refuse to settle, a civil attorney can then help with the trial process as well. This may involve filing motions during the trial, arguing on behalf of a client in court, taking part in jury selection, submitting new evidence in certain circumstances, and questioning witnesses providing live testimony.
Civil attorneys can also assist in drafting settlement agreements, filing appeals after a trial has concluded, filing a separate lawsuit or joining another party to the existing one, and recovering various civil legal remedies.
Aside from the above legal tasks and services, civil attorneys are also obligated to uphold certain professional, ethical, and legal standards when representing a client. For example, a lawyer must exercise professional judgment on behalf of their client.
This means that they cannot represent a prospective client whose interests conflict with those of an already existing client. It also means that they must not accept financial interests from clients other than standard legal fees.
Another principle that civil attorneys have a duty to uphold is to maintain the confidences of a client. For instance, this means they cannot divulge case information to outside parties, disclose a client’s secrets to gain personal benefits, or reveal specific details for which a client did not give their consent.
Some last important obligations that civil attorneys have to their clients is to inform them of all their settlement options or resolutions, to assess a client’s chances of winning a lawsuit honestly, advise them about how their fee structure works for billing purposes, to bill the client in accordance with the agreed upon fee structure, and to never pad their billing statements.
How Much Does a Civil Attorney Cost?
The cost of a civil attorney can vary and will depend on a number of factors, including what area of the law a claim is based on, the complexity of the issues in the case, the amount of time and labor it takes to resolve the matter, and the experience, reputation, and skills of the attorney being retained.
Another major factor to consider when calculating the costs of an attorney is the type of fee structure that an attorney uses, such as flat flees, contingency arrangements, or hourly rates. For instance, a civil attorney who takes a case on a contingency fee basis will not receive any money until the end of the case and only if they win. Thus, it will cost the client next to nothing (with the exception of administrative costs) if the attorney loses.
In contrast, a civil attorney who bills by the hour will be paid on an ongoing basis throughout all stages of a case, regardless of the outcome. Hourly fees for attorneys can range from anywhere between $100 to $1,000 an hour, and sometimes even higher.
Additionally, it may also depend on the jurisdiction hearing the case or where the attorney practices law. For example, some states place limits on the amount of attorney fees that a lawyer can recover or place a cap on damages in personal injury lawsuits.
In other scenarios, it may have nothing to do with state statutes, but rather the location of where an attorney works. For instance, an experienced attorney from New York will typically cost more than one from Montana.
Lastly, civil lawyers who handle personal injury cases tend to have the broadest range of costs, whereas civil rights attorneys may cost the least.
Do You Need a Civil Attorney?
As discussed above, civil lawsuits may be filed for numerous reasons and involve many complex areas of the law. Therefore, if you need assistance filing a civil law claim or are being sued over a civil law dispute, then it may be in your best interest to hire a local civil lawyer for further guidance.
An experienced civil lawyer will be able to discuss your options for legal recourse, can explain how relevant laws may affect the outcome of your case, and can determine your chances of obtaining a successful result. Your lawyer can also help you navigate the different legal procedures and deadlines that must be complied with in a particular civil law case.
Additionally, your lawyer can inform you of your rights under the law and provide representation in court. Alternatively, if you and the opposing party wish to resolve a matter outside of court, your lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement amount as well.