What do Litigation Attorneys do?

Erin Oxendine

Litigation attorneys are lawyers who handle the legal issues of cases once a plaintiff has filed suit against a defendant. These cases often involve complex matters and may be in litigation for months or even years. The main role a litigator has is to handle the case as it goes through litigation and to defend the client if it goes to court.

Litigation attorneys conduct research into case law.
Litigation attorneys conduct research into case law.

There are different types of cases that litigation attorneys handle at their firms. Cases that are in litigation may arise out of contractual disputes, criminal activities or toxic injuries. Worker’s compensation cases typically end up in litigation as well because once a worker is injured; he or she will want prompt payment of all medical expenses and indemnity benefits. If the insurance company disagrees that the worker was injured on the job, the employer will need to file a lawsuit for benefits.

When litigation attorneys are initially assigned a case, they have to conduct a legal evaluation of the matter.
When litigation attorneys are initially assigned a case, they have to conduct a legal evaluation of the matter.

When litigation attorneys are initially assigned a case, they have to conduct a legal evaluation of the matter. The attorney will review the facts of the case and request additional documents such as medical records, employee files and company documents. After analyzing all issues, the attorney will compile a list of witnesses for depositions and for testimony if the case goes to court. The attorney will also secure legal experts such as doctors, toxic investigators and criminal analysts.

Litigation attorneys are also responsible for drafting and filing all legal documents during litigation including interrogatories to and from both parties and requests for production of documents. Attorneys also prepare documents in case the matter goes to trial such as pre-trial briefs and motions for dismissal.

One of the duties that litigation attorneys have is to try to settle the case by mediating the matter and coming to a resolution agreeable to both parties. If the case does not settle, it will go to court and be heard before a judge. After the lawyers plead their cases, the judge will issue a verdict and enter a court order. The order will indicate the findings of the case and include any court ordered stipulations. Sometimes litigation attorneys are not satisfied with the verdict and can file an appeal, which will put the case back into litigation.

When a case finally settles, the litigation lawyers will draft a settlement agreement. This agreement summarizes the facts surrounding the incident and the terms of settlement. Once all parties sign the settlement agreement, the agreement is filed with the court and the matter is resolved.

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Discussion Comments


@Logicfest -- Being a litigation attorney might appear exciting, but it can also lead to a nervous breakdown. if you are "off your game" during a trial, you could wind up with a criminal defendant going to jail, a parent losing his or her kids or all kinds of awful things.

It is more difficult to mess up things like wills and contracts. Lawyers who spend most of their time drafting documents don't have to think on their feet as much and can afford to make a mistake because they can go back and fix it. You rarely get the chance to fix those errors at trial.


Litigation attorneys are, I suspect, what people dream of becoming when they go to law school. There are a lot of non-litigation jobs for attorneys such as drafting wills and contracts. None of that stuff is viewed as being as exciting, though, as being a trial lawyer who spends a lot of time arguing in the courtroom.

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