Want to know how to be a lawyer who practices in the realm of Civil Litigation? Civil Litigation is a type of law where one party files suit against another in civil court. The Civil Litigation lawyer job description includes researching legal arguments, filing paperwork with the court, responding to your adversary’s paperwork, and arguing before a judge. Unlike criminal court, in civil court no one goes to jail… the remedies are (generally) related only to money damages. Causes of action brought in civil court concern claims of negligence, product liability (malfunction), and other money related issues.
All of the legal professions (no matter what type of lawyer you are) require that you be up front with your clients. Something that clients often do not realize is the immense cost of pursuing a case in Civil Court. Civil litigation can be very costly, and the burden of proof is on the Plaintiff (this means that the Plaintiff is responsible to prove their case and if fails to do so then the defendant wins). Thus, the Plaintiff in Civil Litigation must meet all of the elements of the claim, and this may require expert testimony (among other expenses). For now just realize that all of the below may be required to prove (or defend) a case in Civil Court and all require an expenditure of your client’s money:
1) Cost of filing lawsuit.
2) Cost of serving law suit on defendant (process server).
3) Cost of lawyer drafting legal documents.
4) Cost for depositions or other required investigations.
5) Cost of hiring expert to testify for your case.
6) Cost of everyone appearing at the trial (which can be days or even weeks in length with everyone getting paid by the hour).
When learning how to be lawyer, you should also be aware that there are different forms of damages; compensatory, liquidated, punitive. You will learn more about this in law school, but for now recognize that understanding the below will assist you as a lawyer to value your clients case:
Compensatory Damages – Putting the plaintiff back in the position he/she was before the incident. Example = your car was damaged in a parking lot, it costs you $500 to fix, you receive $500 judgment form the court.
Liquidated Damages – Not relevant for this discussion.
Punitive Damages – Intended to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct. I am sure you have heard of punitive damages, these are the big payout cases where the court awards a plaintiff an amount that exceeds their actual damages. Contrary to what you have seen in television, rarely will a court award punitive damages.
Most often courts award compensatory damages, which means that the plaintiff will be awarded a sum of money that compensates for the damages the plaintiff actually suffered. Therefore, when a client comes to you:
1) Estimate their compensatory damages.2) Estimate the cost of succeeding in Civil Litigation.
If the damages are less or approximately equal to the cost of the litigation, you have to advise your client not to proceed. How to be a lawyer who successfully satisfies his/her clients requires you always advise the client about the cost/benefit balance of taking legal action.
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