While some matters, such as traffic infractions, can be managed in court by self representation, the litigation process, due to the serious complexities, should be managed by an experienced attorney. However, choosing the right litigation attorney for your case can pose a challenge, especially for clients who are unsure of the qualifications needed.
Understanding what happens during litigation, as well as the qualifiers that make a litigation attorney a good fit, will help to streamline the process. Here is what you need to know about what to look for in a litigation attorney and how to moderate your expectations for a potential case.
What Does a Litigation Attorney Do?
A litigation attorney is a specific type of lawyer that focuses on cases that are being tried in court whether they are cases that you file or cases that are filed against you. Not all attorneys are trial attorneys; in fact, most attorneys never see the inside of a courtroom.
The role of a litigation attorney encompasses more than assisting with the filing of court paperwork. In fact, their primary role is to serve as your representative in a court of law. It is the responsibility of the litigation attorney to collect evidence, strategize and create a compelling case, as well as speak on your behalf before the other parties, judge or jury except when you are required to testify.
What to Look for in a Litigation Attorney
Choosing the right litigation attorney requires more than a familiar name or the first legal professional you find. You must take time to consider their areas of expertise, their history of success and more. If you are unsure of what qualities make a good litigation attorney, as well as one that works well with you and improves your chances of success, consider the following elements before you commit to any one firm.
Experience in Your Area of Law
One of the most critical elements that will support success in your case is whether your attorney has experience in the specific area of law in which you are bringing a case or defending against a claim.
Litigation is an exceptionally large field encompassing everything from contract disagreements to criminal charges, and a single attorney cannot reasonably be expected to be equally skilled and competent in every possible type of case.
While the general process of litigating follows a basic structure the more specific nuances of each type of case varies. Clients looking for a litigation attorney should focus on those who have regularly worked in the type of litigation that they are currently participating in.
Asking a personal injury attorney to assist you with a breach of fiduciary duty in a partnership will likely yield less favorable results than consulting with an attorney who works solely with business litigation.
Litigation attorneys may not be able to share with you the specific details of their past cases (such as client names) for confidentiality reasons. However, they should be able to discuss at length the types of litigation they have found success with in the past, how they approached the problem and how your case is similar or different.
The Attorney’s Fee Structure
Litigation can get expensive very quickly, and preparing for this eventuality is a vital part of considering whether to pursue litigation at all. Clients must be ready to assume responsibility for the often substantial expenses of litigation, both in terms of the attorney fees as well as the costs of filing the case, such as motions fees and witness compensation.
While there is no direct way of knowing exactly how much these case-adjacent fees will total before the discovery and litigation processes have been completed, you can plan for the attorney’s costs by understanding their fee structure.
Prior to committing to a litigation attorney, be sure that you have carefully reviewed their fee structure and how they charge for their work. Some attorneys may charge by the hour, while others levy a flat fee for a certain type of work.
Others may work on contingency, which means that they do not receive any compensation unless they make a recovery for you; if so, they will take a portion of your damages as compensation.
None of these methods are inherently better or worse than others; in some cases, an hourly attorney may be less expensive than one who takes a portion of your recovery. In others, your recovery may be small enough that a contingency would have been less expensive than the hourly rate or flat fee.
You must carefully evaluate how you expect the case to be finalized so that you can make an informed decision about the financial aspects of your litigation goals. Your expectations should be comparable to those of the attorney who will have a better understanding of the likely outcome.
A History of Success
Attorneys who have experience in your area of law are valuable, but less so if they do not regularly succeed in those cases. The best litigation attorneys will have a track record of success, even in difficult or highly nuanced and complex cases.
Success can be determined in a number of ways, but likely the most common is the attorney’s ability to recover damages for the party that they are representing. As mentioned previously, attorneys may not be at liberty to share personal details like names or case information due to privacy reasons, but they should be able to share their successes in broad detail.
A Local Presence
When searching for a litigation attorney, many clients go to the law firms whose names they have heard due to nationwide marketing campaigns. However, it can be more advantageous to select a litigation attorney who practices locally, or at least close to where the case is being tried.
The reasons for this are manyfold, but they primarily hinge on convenience for the attorney and that attorney’s knowledge of the local legal climate. Litigation attorneys who regularly work in a certain area are more likely to know the judges, bailiffs and other officials on a more personal level.
This is critical, and not just for reasons of socialization. When an attorney has a working knowledge of how a judge may view a certain case, they can adapt their strategy accordingly and align their arguments toward the type of structuring that will receive the most favorable response.
Trust a Reputable Litigation Attorney
Choosing the right litigation attorney for your case can be overwhelming, but it does not need to be. Due diligence on your part early in the process can give you a greater chance of success. The attorneys at KPPB LAW would be happy to sit down with you during a consultation to learn more about your potential case and answer any questions that you may have. Contact KPPB LAW to learn more about the types of law that our attorneys practice or to schedule a consultation to get started.