A civil law attorney, commonly known as a litigator, is an expert hired by clients to handle civil lawsuits. Their expertise lies in either pursuing or defending these lawsuits. Civil law attorneys specialize in various fields, such as personal injury law, employment law, family law, business and finance law, immigration law, real estate law, and landlord and tenant law.
To understand the role of a civil law attorney in comparison to a criminal attorney, it’s essential to grasp the differences between civil and criminal law. Civil law aims to address behavior that causes harm or injury to individuals or other parties through lawsuits. When one party is found liable, the consequences typically involve monetary awards or injunctions.
On the other hand, criminal law is concerned with punishing individuals found guilty of committing crimes. Unlike civil law, criminal law deals with offenses that violate society’s rules and regulations.
When to Hire a Civil Attorney
There are several scenarios where individuals or businesses may sue or face civil law violations. While some civil disputes can be resolved through mediation or in small claims court, serious legal consequences, such as substantial fines or significant monetary damages, may require a civil court hearing. In such cases, hiring a civil attorney becomes crucial.
For instance, a products liability lawsuit involves intricate legal issues and often results in substantial damages. A civil attorney experienced in this field can defend businesses facing allegations of defective products or improper warning labels. They can also assist individuals in suing businesses for the same claims.
Child custody matters also necessitate the expertise of a civil attorney. They can protect a parent’s rights while ensuring fair access to their child. In cases involving child or domestic abuse, a civil lawyer can help the non-abusive parent secure full custody rights.
In terms of business law, a civil attorney is invaluable during real estate transactions. Whether it’s acquiring another business or purchasing property, a civil attorney can negotiate on behalf of their client, draft and review agreements, and provide representation if disputes arise during negotiations.
In summary, when a civil lawsuit carries the potential for significant damages, severe consequences, and involves complex legal issues, it’s advisable to hire a civil attorney.
What to Expect from Your Civil Attorney
When working with a civil attorney for lawsuits, you can expect them to handle all major aspects of your case, regardless of whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant.
During the pretrial stages, a civil attorney can assist in the discovery process, which may involve deposing witnesses, hiring experts, creating a discovery plan, serving requests to the opposing party, and filing necessary documents.
If settlement negotiations fail, or parties refuse to settle, a civil attorney will handle the trial process. This includes filing motions, arguing on behalf of their client, participating in jury selection, submitting new evidence when appropriate, and questioning live witnesses.
Other responsibilities of civil attorneys include drafting settlement agreements, filing appeals after trial, joining or initiating additional lawsuits, and pursuing various civil legal remedies.
Civil attorneys also adhere to specific professional, ethical, and legal standards, such as exercising professional judgment on behalf of their clients. They cannot represent clients whose interests conflict with existing clients or accept financial interests outside of standard legal fees, as this would be considered accepting a bribe.
Furthermore, civil attorneys must maintain client confidences, refraining from disclosing case details to external parties or using client secrets for personal gain without consent.
Your civil attorney should inform you about settlement options, honestly assess your chances of winning, explain their fee structure, and bill accordingly. It’s important to remember that you maintain ultimate control over your lawsuit, but should trust your attorney’s judgment in legal decisions. If trust is compromised, it’s advisable to find another attorney.
How Much Does a Civil Attorney Cost?
The cost of a civil attorney depends on various factors, including average fees in the attorney’s location, the complexity of the case, and the attorney’s experience and reputation. Additionally, whether the attorney practices independently or as part of a law firm can influence costs, with law firm attorneys sometimes utilizing paralegals for certain aspects of a case.
Different attorneys employ different fee structures. For example, a civil attorney working on a contingency fee basis only receives payment if they win the case, ensuring minimal costs to the client in the event of a loss. Conversely, an attorney billing by the hour charges ongoing fees throughout the case, regardless of the outcome. Hourly fees can range from $100 to $1,000 or more in larger cities.
The jurisdiction where the case is heard or where the attorney practices may also impact costs. Certain states limit attorney fees or cap damages in personal injury lawsuits.
Do You Need a Civil Attorney?
If you find yourself involved in a lawsuit as either the plaintiff or the defendant, consulting with experienced and local civil lawyers is highly recommended. Local attorneys are best equipped to understand your state-specific laws relevant to your case. An experienced civil lawyer can guide you through the entire process and represent you in court when necessary.
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