Litigation Job Description
Known also as Litigators, Litigation Lawyers and Solicitors specialise in the resolution of disputes between individuals and/or corporations and are responsible for representing claimants or defendants before, during and after court hearings. While traditionally litigation refers to cases that reach trial, the term is often used to cover alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration or mediation.
The role of a Litigation Lawyer – and the litigation process – can be broken down into several stages. These are:
- Initial Case Investigation and Assessment
- Litigation Lawyers working for a defendant will assess evidence to defend a potential suit against their client, while those working for the claimant will determine if enough evidence exists to warrant a lawsuit.
- In either case, this stage of litigation includes locating and taking preliminary statements from witnesses, reviewing documents, client interviews and investigation of relevant events leading up to the dispute.
- In an attempt to eliminate the risk and cost of going to trial, Litigation Lawyers will often engage in pre-litigation settlement discussions to resolve the conflict before going to court.
- Pleadings and motions
At this stage, Litigators are responsible for drafting and filing with the court various pleadings and motions.
- Claimant Litigators initiate the lawsuit by filing a summons and complaint against the defendant.
- Defence Litigators must then collaborate with their client to investigate allegations and formulate responses to the claimant’s complaint.
- Pre-trial motions may also be drafted at this stage. These can include motions to strike or dismiss evidence or to change the venue or location of the trial.
- Case Management Conference
The Case Management Conference is an opportunity for:
- The Court to ensure both parties fully understand all issues and provide a timetable for the events leading up to the trial and the trial itself.
- Both parties to present a cost budget and a disclosure report detailing relevant documents they are currently in possession of.
- During the disclosure process, parties exchange documentation relevant to the impending court case. Parties are required to disclose all documentation that may support or challenge the case of either party.
- Litigation Lawyers then use this information to formulate a narrative and strategy for their case.
- Witness Statements and Expert Evidence
- Litigators gather written statements from witnesses in order to give context, corroboration or explanation behind the dispute.
- Witnesses may be called upon at trial to be cross-examined by the opposing party.
- Opinion-based evidence comes from experts who may provide a written report that is sent to the Court and opposing party. Experts may also provide oral evidence at trial.
- Pre-Trial Review
The Court uses this meeting to:
- Ensure both parties have complied with the previously agreed timetable.
- Confirm the trial date.
- Put forward a trial timetable along with a list of the decisions that are to be made.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- The Court will urge both parties to consider an alternative form of dispute resolution to avoid the risk and cost of trial.
- Litigators use their knowledge of the law, relevant documentation, examples of relevant case law and cross-examination of the opposing party’s experts and/or witnesses to argue their case. Any witnesses or experts will give evidence.
- After closing statements are made, the judge will make an informed decision based on the cases presented.
Most law firms and employers will be looking to hire Litigators who are qualified lawyers or solicitors. Some roles will be open to those still training while others will be Paralegal level openings that do not require a full qualification. However, be aware that Paralegal and trainee level roles are often limited in their scope to more of a Litigation Assistant position.
Additionally, you may be asked to provide evidence of a high-quality degree in a related field gained at a reputable university.
Applications for Litigation Lawyer jobs usually specify that candidates can demonstrate the following skills:
- Communication skills – You must be able to succinctly summarise an argument and be capable of presenting complex legal concepts to clients.
- Organisation skills – Missing a deadline set by the Court can result in serious penalties, hurt your client’s case and damage your reputation as a Litigator so time management and organisation skills are hugely important.
- An eye for detail – Being able to identify small discrepancies in your opponent’s case can mean the difference between winning and losing at trial. You also need this skill to determine what is relevant and what is not during the disclosure stage of litigation.
- Negotiation skills – An absolute must for any Litigator, negotiation and persuasion skills help you to convince the judge or opposition of the value in your argument.
- Adaptability – You must be able to anticipate and overcome unexpected obstacles that invariably crop up during the litigation process.
- Determination – To succeed as a Litigator you need to have the determination to win on your client’s behalf. You need to have the strength to maintain composure and calm when cases become chaotic and complicated.
According to our 2018 Salary Survey, an average Litigator salary in the UK is £32,143. Remember, this is an average – actual salaries will vary depending on factors such as location and seniority level.
Litigation is a legal specialism related to many other areas of law – such as Intellectual Property and Data Privacy – that can be applied to many sectors, from Corporate through to Residential Property, so you may already have some of the experience required to start a career as a Litigator. The contentious nature and long working hours of Litigation Lawyer jobs are not suited to everyone, but those willing and able to put in the work, time and effort required may find a high level of job satisfaction. Check out our Litigation job description and then search and apply for the latest Litigator Jobs and Litigation jobs on TotallyLegal today.