Guide to Litigation and Careers in the Litigation Field

Lawyer Presenting Evidence During Trial
••• Getty Images/Heide Benser

Litigation is a legal dispute between several parties, the “litigants,” that is ultimately heard by a judge, mediator or arbitrator. Attorneys who participate in litigation are called litigators.

Litigation is the most common practice area in the legal profession. By some estimates, more than half of all legal professionals focus their practice, in whole or in part, on litigation.

The articles below outline the benefits and drawbacks of this practice area and career alternatives in within the litigation arena.

What is Civil Litigation?

What is civil litigation and how does it differ from criminal law and transactional practice? This article explains civil litigation, lists common litigation specialties and outlines the litigation lifecycle as well as the skills required to be a successful litigator. Find out if a career in civil litigation is right for you. 

The Pros of Working in Litigation

A career in litigation offers many benefits. For legal professionals who work in the litigation arena, every day is different. At the inception of a case, investigating the facts, tracking down witnesses and gathering evidence is a challenge. For cases that proceed to trial or arbitration, preparing for and participating in trial will keep all parties busy and on their toes.

Those who work in litigation rarely handle a single case at a time; they must simultaneously juggle multiple (sometimes dozens or hundreds) of cases, each with their own obstacles, clients, and deadlines. In a busy litigation practice, you won’t be bored. In addition, this practice area can be quite lucrative and recession-proof. Learn more about the pros of litigation

The Cons of Working in Litigation

Let’s face it, 99% percent of cases never reach trial; they are settled or dismissed by the court. Most of the litigation process is spent in discovery – the time-intensive gathering of evidence through interrogatories, requests for production, depositions and other discovery methods. This is a paper-intensive and, in larger cases, electronic database-intensive process that can involve grueling review and long hours. If you’re considering a career in litigation, make sure you understand the drawbacks of this practice area

Litigation Careers

The litigation field offers many career opportunities. Below are a few of the most common careers in litigation.

Litigation Attorney

What does a litigation lawyer do on a day-to-day basis? Hint: Television shows like Law and Order and The Practice glamorize the profession and don’t portray trial practice accurately. Learn about the life of a litigator and the role of the litigation attorney.

Litigation Paralegal

Paralegals play an integral role in the litigation process. From investigating case facts and interviewing witnesses to performing legal research, organizing exhibits and summarizing depositions to preparing for and assisting at trial, litigation paralegals serve as the attorney’s right hand in ushering a case through the litigation process. Read more about the role of the litigation paralegal and get the inside scoop on life as a litigation paralegal through this day-in-the-life interview.

Litigation Secretary

Litigation secretaries do far more than type and answer phones. Litigation is a lucrative and busy practice niche for secretaries and their roles are expanding as they perform more paralegal and case-management tasks.

Litigation Support Professional

Litigation support professionals provide technology support to attorneys in large, data-intensive cases. This growing field is brimming with opportunities for those with legal and technology backgrounds. 

Trial Technology Consultant

What better way to tell a story to jurors than through animation, video and other visual tools. Trial technology consultants help develop multi-media demonstrations in the courtroom to persuade juries. Read more about this growing career niche. 

Litigation Support Director

Litigation support directors manage the people and processes involving litigation support within a law firm or organization. This role might encompass the management of a single office, multiple offices across the state or country, or global operations. 

Jury Consultant

jury consultant guides attorneys toward selecting sympathetic jurors at trial and helps them avoid unsympathetic jurors. They do this by posing a series of questions to potential jurors. It can also involve doing background research and interpreting body language, both during questioning and later during trial.