What is Plaintiff Litigation?

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  • Written By: Christopher John
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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Plaintiff litigation refers to civil lawsuits initiated by a plaintiff’s attorney and is a method of recovering money for some type of injury caused by a defendant. A plaintiff is someone who believes he has been wronged or damaged in some way by the defendant in the suit. A plaintiff’s attorney is also known as a litigation lawyer or a trial attorney, and this type of lawyer focuses his practice on filing lawsuits and representing clients in court. Trial attorneys will often develop an expertise in a certain area of law and litigate matters only in that area.

The assorted specialties within plaintiff litigation vary in complexity. For example, plaintiff litigation in securities law is highly complex and often involves numerous parties. Securities are investment vehicles such as stocks, bonds, debentures and hedge funds. Plaintiff litigation in other areas may not be as complicated, meaning attorneys specializing in these areas may focus their practice on several different areas of law within the same specialty.


Plaintiff litigation requires a trial attorney to develop knowledge in numerous areas, including the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules of Evidence, and the local rules of procedure of a court. These areas constantly change through modification and judicial interpretation. A lawyer focusing his practice on plaintiff litigation must know how to use these rules to the advantage of his client. Failure to know these rules could lead to a court dismissing a case on a technicality, which would not make a client very happy.

In addition to knowing all of the rules of procedure and evidence, a litigation lawyer must know the substantive area of law of his chosen practice. For example, common areas of plaintiff litigation occur in medical malpractice, securities litigation, personal injury, legal malpractice, and numerous other areas. The laws concerning a specific area may change rapidly. This requires the trial attorney to remain vigilant for such changes so he can be effective in his representation of his client.

Critics of plaintiff litigation complain that lawyers pursue frivolous cases and coerce undeserved settlements from defendants. Companies claim plaintiff litigation lawyers coerce settlements from them, and that the high costs of mounting a legal defense prevent companies from fighting frivolous claims. As a result, companies may be hesitant to take risks that could be beneficial but could also open the door to a lawsuit. Trial attorneys counter that big businesses are only concerned with profits and have minimal regard for consumers. These attorneys believe the threat of litigation compels businesses to comply with laws, which protects the majority of citizens from injury, death or property damage.


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