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What is a litigation attorney?

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Quick Answer

Litigation attorneys are attorneys that represent plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases, according to About.com's Sally Kane. Litigation attorneys are also known as "trial lawyers" or "litigators."

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Litigation attorneys work with their clients during all the different phases of the litigation process, says Kane. They investigate the circumstances surrounding the case, draft all of the necessary motions and pleadings, work with the other side gathering the evidence (called discovery), attend all pre-trial hearings and represent their client if the case eventually goes to trial. If the attorney represents the plaintiff, he gathers enough information to make a determination as to whether or not his client has a case, and from there initiates the lawsuit. If the attorney represents the defendant, he may conduct his own investigation to gather enough evidence to defend his client.

Most civil cases never reach trial. They are usually settled out of court to help defer the high cost of a trial. Litigation attorneys can settle a case at any time during the course of the litigation, said Kane. When a case is ready to settle, the attorneys negotiate with each other and attend conferences with the judge to make sure all parties agree on the settlement arrangement, and documents are drafted by the attorneys to finalize the settlement.

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