What Does A Lubbock Business Litigation Attorney Do?
While I’ve handled a litany of diverse matters for my clients, the role that has most defined my career thus far has been that of a business litigation attorney. In a nutshell, a litigation attorney represents plaintiffs or defendants in civil cases. While this type of work certainly includes advocating for clients in a courtroom setting, the work to get a case ready for trial often begins many months (and sometimes years in highly complex cases) before the matter goes before a judge or jury.
I pride myself on working with my clients to avoid litigation, if possible.
Because the litigation process can be lengthy and complex, I pride myself on working with my clients to avoid litigation, if possible. The benefit of working with an experienced litigation attorney is that the attorney can apply his or her experiences to a client’s situation to help draft the right contract or give the legal advice that will help the client to avoid problems that would otherwise grow into complex litigation. Similarly, a skilled attorney can sometimes establish a strategy that would help a client resolve an issue early-on to avoid the time and expense of full-blown litigation. However, sometimes it is simply not possible to avoid litigation due to the specific facts of the situation. In that event, having an attorney familiar with the litigation process can prove vital to achieving a positive outcome.
Litigation Lawyer’s Responsibilities Before The Case Is Even Filed
One of the first steps in the litigation process is for an attorney to conduct an initial case investigation. This step can often occur in the early stages of a dispute and before a lawsuit is even filed. If representing a potential plaintiff, the attorney will want to determine if enough evidence exists to file a lawsuit or make a claim. If representing the potential defendant, the attorney will look to determine what evidence and arguments exist to defend a potential suit.
The investigation process may include locating witnesses, taking witness statements, gathering documents, interviewing the client and investigating the facts leading to the dispute. I prefer to take a holistic stance to this process and approach the matter from all angles, as one of my goals is to provide the client with all the information and legal advice that they need to understand their options.
It is also at this stage that the involved parties may engage in pre-litigation settlement discussions to attempt to resolve the matter before a lawsuit is filed. I’ve found that having a skilled attorney involved and representing a client’s interests can certainly play a huge role in the parties reaching an amicable settlement and resolving the dispute before it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. However, no two cases are alike, and while it is generally a worthwhile use of time to discuss pre-suit settlement, there is no guarantee that those discussions will lead to settlement.
Filing The Lawsuit Or Filing An Answer
Should pre-suit settlement prove impossible, the litigation process will begin in earnest. The plaintiff’s attorney will file a complaint or petition with the court (or take steps to initiate arbitration if required or agreed to by the parties) and have the defendant or defendants personally served. Upon completion of service, the defendant’s time to file an answer (in order to avoid a default judgment against them) begins ticking away.
On the other side, a litigation attorney representing a defendant will move rapidly to file an answer on behalf of his or her client. The answer asserts the defendant’s responses to the allegations, the defendant’s defenses, and any counterclaims that the defendant will be asserting against the plaintiff. It is also at this time that the defendant will usually seek to join any responsible third-parties (individuals that the defendant feels should be held responsible instead of them) to the suit.
The Discovery Process
Once all the involved parties have been joined to the suit and have answered, the court will allow parties time to conduct a process known as “discovery.” The discovery process involves the exchange of information and evidence between the parties. This process helps litigators gain relevant information, identify issues, and formulate a case strategy.
Attorneys are allowed a variety of tools within the discovery process to gain information and evidence relevant to the lawsuit. These tools include interrogatories (written questions sent to the other party), depositions (essentially an “on the record” interview of a witness), requests for production (requests for documents or other tangible evidence) and requests for admission (statements that a party must either admit to, or deny).
During discovery, litigation attorneys may also examine physical evidence and inspect relevant locations (for example, the damaged home in a residential construction case) as well as collect, process and analyze information gathered during e-discovery. The nature and scope of the discovery period may also require litigation attorneys to draft and argue discovery-related motions in court including motions to compel, protective orders and summary judgment motions.
Towards the end of the discovery process (once parties have received and reviewed all or most of the evidence) the trial court may also order that the parties attend mediation. In a mediation a neutral third party, works to assist the parties to try to negotiate a settlement. The mediator does not act as a judge, and does not make a ruling of who should win the case. His or her role is merely to help facilitate settlement discussions between the parties. Again, trial courts may order this to give the parties one last opportunity to reach a settlement before trial.
Pre-Trial Stage Of Litigation
Once discovery has been completed, and any court-ordered mediations conducted, the case reaches the “pre-trial” stage. In the pre-trial stage, litigators consult with and advise clients, attend pre-trial conferences before the trial judge, and develop a trial strategy based on the facts and evidence. Litigation attorneys will also prepare trial exhibits, and draft and argue pre-trial motions. These motions generally deal with evidentiary issues and may determine whether key evidence can be introduced at trial, or if it must be excluded.
Once these matters have concluded, the case will proceed to trial. A jury trial will begin with jury voir dire (a process where attorneys are allowed to question potential jurors to identify possible biases or conflicts) and jury selection. The trial will then begin, in which litigation attorneys present opening and closing statements, examine and cross-examine witnesses, introduce evidence and plead their client’s case to the fact-finder (judge or jury). However, the work for the attorneys often does not end at the close of evidence as they may still be called on by the court to prepare jury instructions, and draft judgments in accordance with the judge or jury’s findings. This is not to mention any work involved should an appeal become necessary, which is a further process above and beyond litigation at the trial court level.
A Skilled Attorney Can Help Navigate The Litigation Process
The information outlined above is merely a basic summary of the litigation process. Unfortunately, it barely scratches of the surface of what can be involved in a legal dispute and doesn’t begin to explore all applicable laws and relevant procedural aspects governing litigation in Texas.
Once again, if you have a legal issue, I would recommend consulting an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A skilled lawyer can help you or your business navigate every aspect of your dispute and help protect your rights. They may even be able to help you avoid litigation all together!
Please feel free to make a call today to schedule a free consultation with me to discuss your litigation needs.
* The information contained herein is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The site and associated blog posts should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.