The most popularly recognized form of law – litigation. A legal dispute is said to be in ‘litigation’ when it has become the subject of a formal court action or law suit. Basically all the court scenes you see in movies, all those lawyers come under the category of litigation lawyers. Of course arguing in court is not all they do. In fact arguing in court is probably the easiest part of their task! It’s the preparation for court that is the more laborious process.   

A lawyer’s, any lawyer’s, work starts when a client first approaches him seeking legal advice. After the usual pleasantries, once the client is comfortable enough, he / she generally confesses his problem to the lawyer. The necessary documents exchange hands, and the client explains what he wants from the case – an exciting court scene or the subtle out-of-court settlement. This is of course speaking from the context of a civil dispute; a criminal matter is a whole different ball game. We’ll play that game a little later.    

Once the lawyer has the bare details of the case, he sets up another date for counseling when he would inform the client about how strong his case is and whether he would be willing to represent him. Before then the lawyer generally does all the background research he needs to verify the facts the client tells him and to determine the legal position of the client.

In the second client counseling session the lawyer explains the client’s options to him. If the case is a strong case, then the lawyer outlines the necessary procedures that he will take, as per the client’s instructions. However, if it seems that there is a good possibility that the client will loose the case then the lawyer will inform the client of this and ask him if he still wishes to proceed. If the client is out to prove a point and insists on his court scene, come hell or high water, then the lawyer will file the case in court and, after obtaining the court date, prepare for the court proceedings.

Now, the manner of preparation varies depending on the type of case and the jurisdiction. In India, for example, where there is no jury system, there is more emphasis on law and the technical aspect of the case. However, in countries that follow the jury system, it’s more a matter of convincing a panel of laymen than stressing on the technicalities of law. 

Either way, it takes a fine blend of subtle persuasion, compelling argument and in depth knowledge of the law for a litigation lawyer to successfully pull off his case and close the file on a happy client.


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