A civil attorney, commonly known as a litigator, is a lawyer hired by a client to pursue or defend a civil lawsuit in a court of law. A civil lawsuit can arise in many different areas of law and often concerns the recovery of money or property.
Civil attorneys specialize in a wide range of areas, including: personal injury law, employment law, family law, business and finance law, immigration law, real estate law, landlord / tenant law, and more.
When to Hire a Civil Attorney
As mentioned above, someone can sue or be sued under almost any non-criminal theory of law. If you believe you have been wronged financially or otherwise, it would be ideal to hire a civil attorney to help you assess the merits of your case.
Furthermore, if another person or business ever sues you, it is best to immediately consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action—delaying your response to the lawsuit can have dire consequences for your defense.
What to Expect from Your Civil Attorney
Once you have retained a civil attorney, they will handle all major aspects of your lawsuit. For example, your lawyer will:
- Interview you and other witnesses/parties to build your case
- Prepare for and conduct depositions of you and other witnesses/parties to be used as testimonial evidence
- Handle all correspondence with the other party’s lawyers and the court
- File motions, briefs, and other documents with the court
- Make a discovery plan and serve discovery requests on the other party
- Hire expert witnesses to testify about any technical or medical issues that concern your case
- Engage in settlement negotiations with the other party’s attorneys
- Present your case before a jury and/or judge
It is important to remember that you have ultimate control over your lawsuit—you decide who to sue, when to file suit, and when to settle. However, it is best to defer to your lawyer’s judgment in all legal decisions and to heed any advice about the overall strategy of your lawsuit.
How Much Does a Civil Attorney Cost?
The cost of your civil attorney will vary depending upon the area of law that your claim encompasses, the experience of the attorney you hire, the difficulty of the case, and the amount of time spent pursuing or defending the lawsuit.
The cost of your attorney will also be affected by the fee structure you choose for representation. If a lawyer takes your case on a contingent basis, he or she will recover an agreed upon percentage of your total recovery—usually around 30 percent. Alternatively, you may pay your attorney based upon his or her hourly fee. Some attorneys also offer to take cases for a flat rate.
Do You Need a Civil Attorney?
If you need to file a lawsuit it is strongly suggested you seek the assistance of a civil attorney. A civil attorney can help you navigate the complicated court system and ensure that you do not miss any important deadlines.
A civil attorney can also consider your case and help you determine the likelihood of success should your case go to trial. If you have been sued, it is important to speak and attorney promptly in order to respond to the lawsuit within the appropriate time frame.