December 8, 2020

What is Civil Litigation? - Defined from a Paralegal Point of View

By B&SC Blog Team

What is Civil Litigation? - Defined from a Paralegal Point of View

There are many different types of law. If you’re drawn to the legal profession, it’s important to understand all the options available to you. Not all court proceedings are dramatic criminal affairs like you might see on television. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in law outside the criminal sphere, you may be interested in exploring civil litigation. Careers in civil litigation range from lawyers to paralegals to investigators so there is something for every educational level. Paralegals can specialize in civil litigation so this is an area that you may want to consider.

What is Civil Litigation?

Civil litigation is a term that applies to any legal dispute where two or more parties are seeking monetary damages or a specific performance and does not include criminal accusations. Some cases go to trial in which a judge will determine the outcome, but not all will. There are many different types of civil litigation. This type of dispute may arise over:

  • Product liability
  • Construction liability
  • Medical malpractice
  • Personal injury
  • Real estate disputes
  • Workers’ compensation claims
  • Divorce
  • Intellectual property disputes
  • Anti-trust litigation
  • Landlord/Tenant disputes

In the broadest sense, civil litigation is any legal proceeding that does not involve criminal charges or penalties.

Civil Litigation Terms Defined

  • Tort: This is an act of wrongdoing that resulted in another person to suffer loss or harm.
  • Petition: A pleading/legal document that requests a court order
  • Complaint: The first statement (or pleading) filed that sets the civil case in motion.
  • Damages: The reward or money sought after for the determined loss/injury.
  • Deposition: A sworn statement(s) made by witnesses outside the courtroom to gain information for the civil lawsuit
  • Brief: A written legal document that is presented to the court explaining why one party should win the case
  • Arbitration: When the two parties in disagreement decide to resolve issues without going to court and instead take it to a private panel of arbitrators.

What Does a Civil Litigation Attorney Do?

A litigation attorney, also referred to as a trial lawyer or litigator, represents either defendants or plaintiffs who are involved in civil disputes. These litigators will typically specialize in a particular area, such as divorce law or medical malpractice suits. This allows them to have a more detailed knowledge of their practice area. Civil litigation law is incredibly broad, so it’s helpful to keep a focus on just a few areas rather than attempting to represent them all.

A civil litigator’s daily duties might include interviewing clients, drafting formal complaints or claims, conducting depositions, and drafting motions. Civil litigators must determine the best trial strategy for each case. This might include mediation and negotiation to attempt to settle the case out of court. Trial lawyers may also need to take their cases to court. In these cases, their responsibilities could include investigation, trials, settlements, appeals, jury selection, court appearances and more.

What is a Civil Litigation Paralegal?

Civil litigation paralegals perform many of the same tasks as litigators, but they can’t actually practice law. Even so, their duties are interesting and require legal expertise.

What Does a Civil Litigation Paralegal Do?

Litigation paralegals are essential to the civil litigation process. They handle many of the critical details and research-heavy duties that are required for a successful case. Along with all the duties expected of a paralegal in general, common duties in a civil law practice include:

  • Assisting with interviews
  • Preparing legal documents
  • Obtaining copies of police reports, investigation files, and coroner’s findings
  • Managing schedules for clients and lawyers
  • Drafting pre-trial disclosures
  • Attending trials and taking notes
  • Assisting with jury selection

While civil litigation can be a complex field, it’s an exciting career choice for job seekers who enjoy the thrill of tracking down facts, pinpointing loopholes, and dealing with debates.

As you can see, this job requires you to work closely with civil litigation lawyers. If you’re considering law school in the future, this is also a great way to get a look at the day-to-day workings of a civil law office. The American Bar Association has resources available for people interested in a career in litigation.

Click here for more information on paralegal educational opportunities at Bryant and Stratton College or call the Admissions office at 1.888.273.2758.

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