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The role and responsibilities of a civil litigation attorney can be challenging and diverse. Lawyers specializing in this field must be willing to assume oppositional positions, embracing conflict and controversy. They serve as their client's advocate, obligated to fight for them to achieve the best possible outcome. Attorneys and litigation paralegals in this field often work long hours, especially during a trial. Certain key legal skills and knowledge are essential to litigation practice, including:
Knowledge of substantive and procedural law
Strong written and oral advocacy skills
Analytical and logical reasoning abilities
Ability to synthesize complex legal and factual materials
Superior interpersonal skills
Knowledge of legal research techniques and software
Client development skills
Litigation attorneys often represent their clients across a variety of associated proceedings, including pretrial hearings and depositions, as well as arbitration and mediation. Both of the latter processes are geared toward having the two parties reach a settlement without investing the time and absorbing the expense of going to court.
The difference between arbitration and mediation is that arbitration is overseen by an arbitrator who listens to both sides make their case and present evidence before handing down a decision, while mediation involves a mediator engaging all of the parties and helping them reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute.
Becoming a civil litigator requires possessing an undergraduate degree and then pass a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to enter law school. Over the course of their studies, students typically take a range of classes on everything from employment discrimination to education to family law. To begin practicing law in their jurisdiction once they’ve earned their law degree, an attorney must then pass their state’s bar examination.
Civil litigation encompasses a broad range of disputes, and litigators generally specialize in one or two specific practice areas. Several common areas include:
Product liability lawsuits
Personal injury claims
Intellectual property disputes
Construction liability lawsuits
Medical malpractice claims
Employment and labor disputes
Real estate lawsuits
Workers' compensation claims
Education law disputes
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