What Is a Trial Attorney?
Simply put, a trial attorney is an attorney who practices law in a trial court. Trial attorneys represent clients in civil cases. In civil cases, the parties involved are not referred to as defendants, because it is not a criminal trial. They are retained specifically to sue another party in civil court. It is sometimes said that civil attorneys resolve “private wrongs,” such as interpersonal conflicts or conflicts involving business. Trial attorneys may also be referred to as litigation attorneys.
Civil law differs from criminal law in a few ways. In criminal law, the state or county will bring charges against an individual. In contrast, civil law presides over one person or party bringing a private lawsuit against another party or person.
Generally speaking, civil law results in lighter sentences and consequences in comparison to criminal law. Because of this, criminal law often comes with additional protections for the defendant, and the burden of proof of guilt is higher in criminal law cases than in civil lawsuits.
Although the two differ, they are not necessarily exclusive, as it is possible to be sued and fined in a civil law proceeding, and then sentenced in a criminal trial afterwards.
For example, in a case where someone sets fire to a property, the individual may be punished for the crime of arson, and civilly sued for the property damages.
What Types of Tasks and Services Do Trial Attorneys Perform?
A trial lawyer performs many different tasks. Some examples of the tasks and services that trial attorneys perform include, but may not be limited to:
- Meeting with and advising potential clients regarding their legal options prior to a lawsuit;
- Obtaining documents and other items that could be used as evidence during a lawsuit, which is also referred to as discovery;
- Performing legal research prior to the trial;
- Filing various pre trial motions;
- Interviewing clients as well as other witnesses and parties in order to build the case;
- Handling all correspondence with the other party’s attorney(s) as well as the court;
- Engage in settlement negotiations; and
- Present the case in court before a judge and jury.
- Hire expert witnesses;
- Argue for various legal remedies; and
- Handle post trial matters, such as appeals.
Additionally, trial attorneys must be familiar with local procedural law for trials, as well as the various laws that may be applied to a particular lawsuit.
Trial attorneys practice law in almost any field in which people interact and conduct business. Some examples of the areas of law in which they practice include:
- Personal injury;
- Business and finance;
- Real estate;
- Health and medicine/medical; and
- Landlord or Tenant.
What Makes a Trial Attorney Effective?
If you feel you need to hire a trial attorney, you should take your time to find one that is a good match for your needs. This will vary based on the specifics of your circumstances, as well as what your budget allows for. However, there are a few key components in making an effective trial attorney.
You should look for a trial attorney who is experienced in handling cases that closely resemble your own. An example of this would be finding an attorney who specializes in personal injury law when you need to file a lawsuit against a negligent party for your injuries. Additionally, an experienced trial attorney should have strong negotiating skills. This is crucial when defending your rights and working towards a damages award.Some other qualities to look for in an effective trial attorney include:
- Excellent communication skills, so you understand what is going on with your own case;
- Strong writing skills, as much of a trial attorney’s job involves creating clear and persuasive documents for the judge to consider;
- Sufficient analytical skills;
- Whether or not the attorney is board certified in the area of law, or board certified by their state bar for litigation;
- Interpersonal skills capable of balancing compassion with aggression; and
- A good team player.
How Do You Know If you Need a Trial Attorney For Your Legal Issue?
As you can see, 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 in your best interest to consult with a skilled and knowledgeable trial attorney.
An experienced and local trial attorney will study the specifics of your case and create a legal action plan to move forward with your case. Trial attorneys will also be familiar with your local court system, and how to best proceed with your case.
Additionally, litigation is a complex and lengthy process requiring representation. An experienced trial attorney will be able to provide that representation, and can help ensure you do not miss any important deadlines.