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What Is the Role of the Litigation Attorney?

Have you ever asked, “What is a litigation attorney?” Have you ever wondered, “What does a litigation lawyer do?” A litigation attorney is sometimes referred to as a trial attorney because they represent their clients at trial and in preparation for trial. 

Litigation attorneys may represent plaintiffs and defendants in both civil and criminal cases. Some litigation attorneys specialize in only one or two areas, but others may take on a wide variety of cases that involve litigation. Many people wonder about the meaning of litigation lawyer. Generally, a litigation lawyer represents a client in matters that the client has filed against another party or defends against claims filed against the client.

Litigation attorneys support their clients at all stages of the litigation process, which includes much work before the case reaches a trial. Litigation attorneys are often viewed as aggressive and tough because they constantly advocate for their clients against their opponents. If you believe that you have a claim or if a lawsuit has been filed against you, it may be beneficial for you to contact a law firm with experienced litigation attorneys for a consultation and evaluation of your case.  

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What Do Litigation Attorneys Do?

In explaining the litigation attorney meaning, it is helpful to consider what these attorneys actually do. Litigation attorneys may represent plaintiffs or defendants. They have many jobs in representing their clients, including the following:

  • Drafting pleadings, such as complaints, counterclaims, and answers to complaints and counterclaims;
  • Drafting and answering discovery, such as interrogatories and requests for the production of documents;
  • Conducting depositions and defending against depositions;
  • Researching the relevant laws to the client’s case;
  • Consulting with expert witnesses and other parties;
  • Investigating the facts of the client’s case;
  • Trial preparation, including gathering evidence and witness preparation;
  • Negotiating a settlement with the opposing attorney;
  • Representing the client at all pretrial hearings;
  • Jury selection;
  • Creating a plan to pursue or defend the client’s case; and
  • Representing the client at trial. 

Types of Cases a Litigation Attorney Handles

Litigation attorneys may handle civil litigation and criminal cases. Civil litigation cases that are commonly handled include:

  • Personal injury and wrongful death cases;
  • Employment and labor dispute cases;
  • Business and commercial litigation cases;
  • Public interest litigation; and
  • Patent litigation.

Business and Commercial Litigation

Business and commercial litigation attorneys handle business disputes and are experienced in disputes over legal documents. They represent employers, employees, shareholders, and business contractors. Some of the common types of business matters handled by business and commercial litigation attorneys include:

  • Contractual disputes;
  • Shareholder disputes;
  • Intellectual property disputes;
  • Financial/SEC disputes; and
  • Professional malpractice claims. 

A litigation attorney handling a business and commercial civil case may represent plaintiffs and defendants in different matters. Therefore, if you believe that you have a business or commercial litigation dispute or if a business suit has been filed against you, it is advisable that you contact an experienced litigation lawyer to explore your options.  

Civil Litigation

Civil litigation attorneys are trial attorneys that represent clients in civil lawsuits rather than in criminal matters. Civil litigation encompasses a broad category of the law that includes every type of litigation other than criminal. Thus, a civil litigation attorney may practice any type of law that involves a dispute between parties.

Public Interest Litigation

Some civil litigation attorneys devote their practice to public interest litigation. Public interest litigation (PIL) attorneys help advance human rights and equality and raise issues of public concern to help minorities and other disadvantaged groups. Often, public interest attorneys challenge court and administrative judgments by seeking judicial review of cases. Under judicial review, the judge will consider the lawfulness of an action or failure to act by public or government agencies. 

Personal Injury Litigation

A litigation attorney may represent a plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury case. Personal injury litigation involves the plaintiff filing a cause of action against a defendant, alleging that the plaintiff suffered damages or injuries as a result of the defendant’s action or inaction.

Most people are familiar with personal injury attorneys because they often advertise their services. However, defense attorneys are also involved in personal injury litigation by representing their clients against the lawsuit. 

Patent Litigation

Patent litigation involves the infringement of the use of intellectual property. A party may file a lawsuit against another person or entity for the unlawful use of a patent owned by the plaintiff. This type of litigation usually seeks monetary damages for the use of the patent and an injunction to prevent the continued use of the patent. 

Education Requirements for Litigation Attorneys

Litigation attorneys must complete many years of education. Generally, the following steps are followed on the path to becoming a litigation attorney:

  1. Obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
  2. Obtain a Juris doctorate from an accredited law school.
  3. Pass the bar exam in the state where you want to practice law. 
  4. Take the oath and be sworn in as an attorney at law in your state.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are some of the most common questions about the role of a litigation attorney.

How many hours does a litigation attorney work?

The answer to this question varies. Most litigation attorneys work long hours representing their clients. It is not uncommon for a litigation attorney to work 60 or more hours per week. If a litigation attorney is new and working for a litigation law firm, he or she may need to work many more hours than the senior attorneys at the firm. If the litigation attorney is working alone or with a small staff, he or she will usually work even longer hours because of limited support staff to handle the pretrial matters. 

How much does a litigation attorney make?

According to some sources, the average salary for litigation attorneys in 2022 is $141,870, with the bottom 10 percent earning about $84,000 and the top 10 percent earning about $239,000. 

However, some litigation attorneys make millions of dollars per year, and others barely make minimum wage in relation to their hours worked. Much depends on the litigation attorney’s location, but much more depends on his or her experience and reputation. 

What is the job outlook for litigation attorneys?

The job outlook for litigation attorneys is favorable. The filing of lawsuits is not slowing down anytime soon. Therefore, litigation attorneys will be in demand to represent both plaintiffs and defendants for the foreseeable future. 


The role of a litigation attorney is to represent his or her client in civil or criminal litigation cases. Most of the time, people think of a litigation attorney as one who represents a plaintiff in a civil suit. However, litigation attorneys also defend against those types of claims. 

Litigation attorneys handle various civil cases; however, they are mostly known for handling personal injury claims. Litigation attorneys are required to complete many years of education to gain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and then a law degree from an accredited law school. They must also pass the bar exam in their state. The job outlook for litigation attorneys is favorable overall. 

If you are considering a career as a litigation attorney, it would be wise to speak with an experienced litigation lawyer to get a better idea about what they do.

Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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