It’s called civil litigation, but what is “civil” about being in a lawsuit? Civil litigation means literally bringing a matter to court between parties on non-criminal matters. Short of it all, if you have someone standing at your door with court documents that you need to sign, you can bet, you’re getting sued.
Automatically, you start looking for that lawyer that will “fight” for your defense. You look for that “Pitbull” or “barracuda”, but the truth of it is you want that attorney that is “civil” and offers professional courtesies to opposing lawyers. Basically, to keep the case moving, you don’t want to fight over every detail, but to work with opposing counsel to avoid any unnecessary costs and expenditures. We all, at some time or another, fall into that need to be right, and that can be costly.
The other side of that, is you act like an ostrich putting your head in the sand, and pretend you never got served. This is the worst possible thing you could do. Do not sit on that summons.
The cost of a litigation attorney will depend on what type of case is being litigated. Lawyers will vary the approach fees differently. You could be billed hourly, contingency, or a flat fee. For instance, if it’s a personal injury case, chances are the fee is based on a contingency. Cases taken on a contingency, means you don’t have to pay anything up front, and if you win your case, your lawyer will take out a pre-established percentage. If your lawyer has taken a case based on contingency, chances are you have a strong case.
Looking at the perspective from a non-attorney point of view of what to expect from a courtroom and a judge, is not what you see in the movies. Even though we all have those legal movies we love to watch, and even maybe take a grain with it. “Legally Blonde” or “My Cousin Vinny” it is not. The one statement from Legally Blonde “My dad is a litigator…that’s the meanest type of lawyer” does not ring true in the everyday courtroom proceedings. No fangs, no vipers, no blood, and no sparing of words between counsel in the wings. It comes down to a “cattle call”, in which, waiting is normal for a 15-minute hearing that can cost a client hours of billable time, while the attorney is stuck in a holding pattern and the Judge is just short of being an air traffic controller.
A need for litigation can be found in just about every practice of law. Regardless of what your expectations may be, your litigation attorney will be with you every step of the way. Outcomes rely on different factors. Your case could be settled privately, or you could go to court. If you win your case, you may receive monetary compensation or force the other party to cease an activity. Some cases are better handled in mediation, minimizing needless fights. Mediation can actually save a client money, time and risk of an unfavorable ruling.
All things are often better when worked out, than being forced. There is a time to fight and a time to put down the olive branch. Bottom line, cooperation and communication can be much more productive than “going to the mattresses”.