Litigators tend to be people the average citizen wants to stay away from. After all, when you’re talking to a litigator, you’re usually in a stressful situation that might even be completely changing your life.
That doesn’t make litigators the enemy, though. They’re crucial parts of our legal system, and when you need one, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for their work. We guarantee it.
To help dispel some of the negative stereotypes that a lot of you might have about litigators, and help you understand just how important they are for helping you succeed, we’re going to explain what does a litigator do daily.
Let’s get started.
What is a Litigator?
For the most part, “litigator” is just a fancy term for a lawyer, and it’s a lot simpler to look at them as such. However, there is a difference between a litigator and the many other types of lawyers out there.
Instead of handling the latest internationally followed murder case, prosecuting corrupt CEOs in highly publicized cases, and the other dramatic things you probably see a lot in headlines, litigators are more focused on the day-to-day cases you’re far more likely to have to deal with.
A litigator deals with the litigation process when two parties are trying to resolve a conflict.
A good example of this would be two companies disputing who is liable for a failed business transaction under contract. Both sides have good points, and they hire business litigators to try to prove those points to the court and reach a mutually beneficial resolution.
What Does a Litigator Do?
If you’re an average member of the public, you probably hear the term “lawyer”, or a litigator in this case, and immediately start thinking that their sole purpose is to take your money, tell the judge whatever you were going to say in fancier terms, and collect a big paycheck.
That is simply not the case.
First and foremost, a litigator’s priority is to help you resolve discourse in accordance with the law and any agreements made between you and the other party. It’s an underappreciated job, but it’s absolutely crucial.
That job is a lot more complicated than listening to your side and translating it into legal terms. In fact, much of a litigator’s job consists of tasks that have nothing to do with talking in a courtroom.
Let’s take a look at a day in the life of a litigator at work.
1: Understanding Your Side of the Story
For a litigator’s job to start, they have to wait for you to get into contact with them and bring them a case. Of course, this is a little more complicated than hiring a plumber or an electrician.
During this phase, the litigator provides a consultation. They’ll listen to your argument, and they’ll try to get a firm understanding of the situation you’re in. At this point, one of two things can happen.
First, the preliminary steps of building a case start in this phase. While they’re hearing your side of things, they’ll start thinking about the possibilities, how they can build an argument, and whether or not you have a good chance of winning or reaching a reasonable resolution.
However, in some cases, this is also the phase where they see that you either don’t have a case, or it’s a case they simply can’t work with. At that point, they might advise you to avoid legal action, or they might direct you to a different litigator who is more equipped to handle your case.
This is determined on a case-by-case basis because there are simply too many factors to make a sweeping standard for everyone who comes in.
2: Building the Case and Handling Discovery
Assuming the litigator agreees to take on your case and represent you in the litigation process, the next step is to start building your case. There are two sides to every story, and to be able to truly get down to the truth of the matter, a fairly lengthy discovery process starts.
During this process, the litigator will work with you, and on their own, to get all the facts together.
The litigator will spend a considerable amount of time asking you questions and gathering any materials you have such as contractual agreements, conversation records you might have that prove your case, and other bits of evidence that you have.
However, they’ll also work with the court and any third parties that might be able to assist with information gathering.
In a litigation case, the evidence brought to the court is disclosed to both parties. So, much of this process will include looking at the evidence and testimonies that the opposing team will be presenting, determining what arguments can be used to counter the other party’s claims, and building up resources that will help secure a victory in the courtroom.
3: Proper Engagement with the Court
This is one of the most important tasks that a litigator takes on, and it’s one of the biggest reasons that you shouldn’t handle a case on your own.
The United States court system is heavily regulated. Even small pedantic issues can cost you greatly in a courtroom. Let alone bigger mistakes such as not disclosing things properly or not following standard procedures by the book.
The litigator will navigate the courtroom in a manner that presents your argument without opening opportunities to the opposition or otherwise causing your case to fall through.
This can be a stressful situation even for the litigator. The court system is so complex, with intricacies that are easily misunderstood, that even seasoned litigators often end up having to reapproach arguments or fix mistakes.
4: Hiring Expert Witnesses
This isn’t a part of every case, and your litigator might not require this to get you through the trial with good results, but it is often needed.
Expert witnesses are professionals who are highly experienced in a field relevant to your case. For example, if you got hurt on the job, and you’re having a dispute over being wrongfully fired by your boss, your litigator might hire a doctor as an expert witness.
This is where it gets complicated. They can’t just hire your doctor and have them speak to the court. The team has to find a completely neutral doctor who isn’t attached to the case, and that doctor has to meet a long list of criteria.
The litigator must present the facts of the case to the expert witness, hear the witness’s proposed testimony, and then decide if the witness will help or hurt the case depending on that proposed testimony. This is a complicated process, because the testimony provided must be the witness’s own neutral testimony based on professional experience, and it cannot be tweaked or influenced by anyone in the courtroom.
This process can be long and involve many different interviews to find the right expert, and there is a long list of rules that have to be followed when using one in court.
5: Presenting the Case and Fighting on Your Behalf
A litigator’s clients do speak in court. So, you should expect to give your testimony. However, the litigator will do two things in this regard.
First, they’ll guide you through your part of the presentation. They’ll help you determine what you need to focus on, how to word things, and how to counter the most likely arguments the opposition will make to prevent you from harming your case. Again, the courtroom can be touchy when it comes to wording and doing everything properly.
Then, the litigator will take on the bulk of courtroom communication outside of your testimony.
They’ll be in charge of presenting evidence, voicing your argument to the court, and generally handling the bulk of courtroom duties for you.
6: Determining the Right Solution
This is another crucial aspect of a litigator’s job that many people don’t think about. Even if you have a solid, easily winnable case, what you’re demanding matters.
We all tend to overestimate what is owed to us. A litigator, during the early phases of consultation, can determine what you’re owed and what you can ask for.
This impacts your case, because it ensures you are seeking a plausible resolution rather than letting your emotions get the best of you or simply asking for something the court can’t provide and the opposing team can easily counter.
7: Guiding You Through Documentation
As with everything that is official business, there is a lot of documentation and paperwork that has to be completed with absolute accuracy when you’re dealing with litigation. Before, during, and after the case.
Your litigator, and the team they work with, will help you understand that paperwork and file it correctly to prevent unwanted obstacles from popping up and ruining your case.
Is a Litigator Worth it?
You’re not legally forced to have a litigator on your side when you go to court. You are more than free to represent yourself and present everything on your own. Experienced professionals know that’s a bad move, but many average citizens think that’s the best way to go. After all, hiring a litigator can be expensive, and many people don’t have the resources to hire one. Let alone cover all the other court costs and expert fees.
However, a litigator is 100% worth it, and we’d even call them critical for every case.
Beyond the day-to-day tasks that we highlighted earlier, a litigator offers several benefits.
First, they reduce a lot of the stress that comes with dealing with the court system. Not only do they take on much of the active work in the court system, but they also guide you through critical parts of the case that you have to actively participate in. Having expert-level guidance takes a lot of weight off your shoulders and helps you avoid making mistakes.
You also stand a better chance of experiencing the best outcome possible. The court system isn’t built on simply listening to you talk and taking your word for it. You might be able to prove that you’re owed something, but you’re unlikely to get the most out of your case when you handle everything alone. A litigator is more equipped to navigate the court system and get you the most desirable outcome possible. Sometimes, that’s extremely positive, and you walk away with more than you thought possible. Sometimes, it simply means the opposition doesn’t take you for everything you have.
Finally, a litigator has access to resources you simply don’t have. From hiring expert witnesses to understanding the finest details of obscure laws or contract agreements, a litigator is better equipped to handle the finer details. Those are usually the key to maximizing your experience in the courtroom.
How Much Does a Litigator Cost?
Litigators are highly trained professionals who demand a premium wage. As such, they’re fairly expensive.
The way they’re paid is usually broken into two different methods.
On the plaintiff’s side, the litigator might charge an hourly fee or upfront retainer, but many offer to take a part of your winnings once the case is completed. That is usually dependent on how confident the litigator is that you can win your case.
On the defendant’s side, it’s not as accessible. Litigators on the defense’s side tend to charge between $250 and $500 per hour. If you get a notable litigator, you might even have to pay an upfront retainer. This is because the defense isn’t usually trying to get a large payment, and even if the litigator wins the case, there’s a lower likelihood of anything being there to pay the litigator.
Where to Find a Litigator for Your Case
As you can see, litigators are a lot more useful than people make them out to be. There are also positive parts of the court system that you should look forward to seeing when the time comes for you to need one.
However, you do need to make sure you have a litigator who can get the job done.
Litigation Legal Insight can not only help you find a litigator and make the right legal decisions, but we can also work as a long-term partner who helps guide you through the complicated legal system.
Contact Litigation Legal Insight, today.