What Is The Difference Between A Trial Lawyer And A Litigator?

A lawyer is a litigator, right? Not necessarily. When you’re out seeking legal representation for your personal injury lawsuit, you want to know what kind of legal professional to hire. And many things will come into play. When it comes to picking the legal professional to represent you after an injury, you need to think carefully about the type of lawyer to choose. 

Do you go with a trial lawyer or a litigator? The difference between a trial lawyer and a litigator is wide and varied, though both share some similarities. Often, cases involving settlements are complex because insurance companies aren’t readily willing to offer the right amount. It’s a matter of a battle and there is a likelihood your case could go to trial. So you want to consider Midwest Trial Lawyers because they have the experience in engaging the defendants and the defendants’ insurance companies and other parties in the courtroom.

So why choose a trial lawyer and not a litigator for your case?

Trial Lawyer vs. Litigator

At the bottom line, the difference between a trial lawyer and a litigator boils down to their ultimate goal in a case – what they aim for. A litigator aims to settle, a trial lawyer aims to go to trial.

So what does this mean?

Does it mean that your case is going to always end up settling when you choose a litigator? The answer is No. Sometimes, your litigator is going to bring in a trial lawyer if the case fails to settle.

Does choosing a trial lawyer mean that your case is always going to end up before the judge? Again, not really. Why? About 95-96 percent of entire cases settle pre-trial.

Now, if it does not mean my case will end up settling if I hire a litigator, or that it will end up in the courtroom with a trial lawyer, what then does it mean?

Well, it means the lawyer’s posture in working your lawsuit will be different. A litigator, for the most part, is always looking to find the best negotiation strategy. On the other hand, a trial lawyer is always looking for ways on how to win the case in front of the judge.  Often, defendants, and for the most part, insurance companies, pretty well know this.

Insurance companies know that when they are dealing with a litigator, the chances of pre-trial settlement are higher than when they face a trial lawyer. And you know going to trial is costly. So the posture your lawyer adopts and his or her willingness to head to trial make a big difference in regard to settlement offers. And, of course, it even makes a bigger difference if the lawsuit finally does end up before the judge.  But trial lawyers have experience in fighting the courtroom battle.

Okay, now, let’s look at what a litigator does and what a trial lawyer does so that you can clearly understand why you want to consider Midwest Trial Lawyers and not litigators for your personal injury lawsuit. 

Who Is A Litigator and What Does Their Work Involve?

A litigator is an attorney who specializes in litigation or simply taking legal action against an individual or organization. He or she often manages the process right from the start to finish.

A litigator will be involved in every stage of your litigation process from investigation through discovery, pleadings, pre-trial, settlement, trial representation stage, and perhaps appeal, if necessary.

How Litigators Work

The litigation process is pretty long and complex. Exactly how a litigator involves himself or herself in each step largely depends on where they serve. Litigators in small firms or sole proprietors may highly involve themselves in each litigation step. And litigators serving in larger law firms may be involved at different levels throughout the entire litigation process.

The Litigation Process

Initial Case Assessment as well as Investigation

The process of litigation usually starts with a comprehensive investigation to help gather all the necessary details that ultimately may affect the outcome of your case.

A litigator needs to assess a case and conduct an initial investigation. The aim is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant filing your lawsuit. The supporting evidence helps with the client’s case. If it’s a defendant’s case, the litigator assesses what evidence exists that can help defend against his client.

In the investigation stage, other professionals may come in such as private investigators or accountants. This stage may also involve finding and interviewing witnesses possessing crucial information or knowledge about the case.

Pleadings Stage

The next step is filing a pleading with the court in question that explains the legal issue of the client at hand. The defendant and the complainant must both file pleadings. If the client of the litigator is the one taking legal action, they must file their complaint and deliver it to the defendant. In the same way, if the client of the litigator is the defendant, again they must file their answer to the complaint.  

The Discovery Process

In the discovery stage, an investigation moves to the next part where both parties exchange pertinent information – that is after initiating legal action.

At this time, a litigator can perform depositions – interviewing the opposing counsel and obtaining witnesses. In addition, they may file motions, where they ask the court to decide on matters that relate to the case prior to commencing the trial.

Litigators apply a variety of methods to gain information. For instance, they can present a series of written questions for the other party of the lawsuit to answer. They may also use depositions, which often involve oral questions presented in an office setting. Also, the litigator may request documents in possession of the other involved party. Requests of admission may be made where the litigator asks the other party to deny or admit some aspects of the case – again this is done in writing as well under oath.

Pre-trial Tasks 

During pre-trial, a litigator handles all necessary hearings, conferences, and meetings with the legal team of the opposing party before the trial commences.

The weeks preceding trial are so crucial as they involve wrapping up discovery and preparing for court. A litigator consults with and advises their client, retains expert witnesses, and attends pre-trial meetings and conferences. They also develop trial strategies – usually based on the case’s facts and evidence.

Pre-trial Settlement – A Very Crucial Part

The lawyers involved in the case may negotiate a settlement instead of going to trial. Most cases usually don’t go to trial, they are instead settled pre-trial to eliminate the risks and expenses associated with the trial or going to court. A litigator engages in negotiations with the opposing parties.

Trial – Almost to the Final Stage

In the event that the litigators fail to reach a settlement agreement in the pre-trial stage, the case then goes to trial.

If a case proceeds to trial, a litigator will be busy around the clock working to present the case before a judge. The litigator collaborates with the client and experts to come up with a trial theme. Here, the litigator identifies the strengths as well as weaknesses of the case. He or she develops persuasive arguments. Again, they prepare witnesses as well as the client for testimony.

The process is known as ‘voir dire’ sets on a trial. Voir dire is the process of choosing a jury.

A litigator represents their client during a trial. During the representation, the litigator helps to select a jury, make the opening as well as closing statements, in addition to arguments and questions of witnesses. The litigator also introduces evidence. Since trial requires a lot of experience in the courtroom you can consider Midwest Trial Lawyers instead of a litigator. And we will see why?

Appeals Process – Not Satisfied with Trial Outcomes

Upon completion of the trial, if the client of the litigator is unhappy with the results of the trial, they can file an appeal. While a litigator can appeal your case if the trial goes deficiently, the appeal cannot be done simply because you didn’t like the outcomes. Evidence must be presented to show why the court’s decision at the trial was somehow wrong based on a certain issue.

For instance, they can say and show that a legal error occurred during the trial or specific evidence may have been admitted at trial when actually it shouldn’t have been.  

A Trial Lawyer – What Does Their Work Involve

A trial lawyer is a lawyer of the client who goes into the courtroom and argues the client’s case before the judge alone, especially bench trials or motions. A trial lawyer may also argue the case before both a jury and a judge, in what is called a jury trial.

A trial attorney is the client’s attorney of last resort. What this means is that, whatever matter has been in dispute, there has been no agreement or settlement arrived at. And the suit has been filed. So a jury or judge is ultimately going to rule out the case, in whole or in part.  

A trial lawyer starts his or her career differently than a litigator. A trial attorney is cut from a different cloth – well educated, yet fragmentary – they view the courtroom as the boxing ring. It’s where they relentlessly fight for their injured victims during a personal injury case. They select jurors and wait for verdicts themselves. A trial attorney is motivated by that courtroom tension as well as the win-or-lose challenge in that ring. Something about a trial attorney is that he or she is determined to win for his client while also respecting the opponent throughout the court battle.

As earlier mentioned, not all cases will end up in trial, and in fact, few do. However, the full potential for a case can only be realized if a trial lawyer is willing to get to the battle ring on behalf of the client.   

A Litigator and a Trial Lawyer – How They Approach Their Cases

A trial lawyer thinks about cases in a primarily different way than a litigator. He or she plans on every case that is going to trial and prepares accordingly. He starts a case by thinking about his closing argument at trial – that’s the last words that he wants the jury to hear. A trial lawyer works backward from there. He or she figures out what evidence they will need in order to be able to make that closing argument. They also figure out what discovery strategy they will need so as to have that supportive evidence at trial.

A trial lawyer understands that the defendant isn’t willing and isn’t going to pay top-dollar towards settlement until and unless he convinces the defendant’s party – beyond any doubt – he will beat them at trial.  

On the other hand, a litigator thinks about a case in chronological order. They start with the investigation before moving to pleadings, then to discovery, and then to motions, before finally starting to think about a trial in court. For sure, that’s way too late. A litigator will in most cases want to settle things pre-trial. You can consider having lost your case if the first time a lawyer representing you thinks about the trial when it’s just about the trial stage.

You are better off if you consider Midwest Trial Lawyers than working with litigators in the courtroom. The courtroom is the playground of trial lawyers and they are never scared to face the defendant’s party in court.

The Involvement of a Litigator vs. that of a Trial Lawyer

A litigator is involved in the whole litigation process right from the beginning to the end. He or she usually spends much of the time working outside the court than inside when handling a case. Also, a litigator can still be a trial lawyer, however, because of how he or she approaches a case, and the limited time spent in the courtroom when handling cases, they may not be the best-placed individuals to represent you in the trial phase.  

A trial lawyer is mainly involved in and focuses on the trial part of the litigation process and not the other parts. Usually, a trial lawyer spends a good part of a case in the courtroom. That being said, a trial lawyer can also be a litigator.  

The Takeaway

When you look at who a litigator is and what they do versus who a trial lawyer is and what they do, you find that a litigator tends to be very good at preliminary matters of a dispute. These are things like preparing documents, gathering evidence, making motions, and drafting briefs. They are also good at arguing motions as trying to persuade judges and juries on what the law is or what it is not.

Trial lawyers tend to focus on the case’s facts. They dwell on what will persuade people about the facts. A trial lawyer understands and is taught to understand the kind of messages that are going to connect with the juries, the regular people, and how the jurors receive the messages being conveyed. A trial attorney is taught to understand what the proper messages are and how the jurors are going to interpret such messages based on morals, mores, life experiences, and how they understand everyday life. 
In brief, you can consider Midwest Trial Lawyers to represent you in court if you are pursuing claims for injuries you sustain or damages you suffer from the negligent act or wrongful act of another party. 

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