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What is a Litigation Firm?

By Michelle Baugh
Updated May 16, 2024
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A litigation firm is a law firm that tries cases in a court of law. A lawyer who works for a litigation firm is sometimes called a trial attorney. Working in a litigation firm entails more than just standing up in court — services also include the research needed to build a case, which can involve interviewing witnesses, gathering data, and reading through previous court cases to establish precedent. A litigation attorney will also counsel a client, determine the client's desired outcome for a trial, and work with the client on establishing a case.

There are many types of lawyers who do not need to offer litigation services. Among these are those who practice specialty law, such as patent attorneys, as well as those who work primarily as consultants for both individuals and major corporations. Some of these attorneys may retain the ability to be trial lawyers, while others may have little to no training in a court of law.

Litigation practices can vary greatly in size. Some practices consist only of one or two individual partners. Other firms may employ multiple lawyers, including junior and senior partners, as well as paralegals, law clerks, and administrative staff. The size of a law practice is not always indicative of the amount of cases it can take on, as large firms are sometimes embroiled in complicated cases that require most of their resources and force them to limit their client intake.

Sometimes, a major law firm will need to offer both general services and a litigation branch. This is usually the case for law firms that represent large companies. Maintaining general law services and a litigation firm enables these types of practices to reduce competition for law contracts.

Companies in certain industries, such as the healthcare and manufacturing industries, may opt to maintain litigation services within their own companies. In such a case, a traditional litigation firm may not be formed. Instead, the company would simply offer positions to licensed trial lawyers. This is usually seen as a cost-saving measure when a company is battling hundreds of cases at any given time.

On occasion, a litigation firm will only handle specific types of cases. For example, one firm can specialize in large class-action lawsuits against drug makers while another firm mostly handles class-action cases against online businesses or financial services. Specializing in one area can help a litigation practice maximize its existing research resources.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By strawCake — On Aug 18, 2011

@Monika - Your friends job sounds interesting. I know it is important for litigation law firms to keep up with case law.

In our legal system, laws are made by the legislature, but the our judicial system plays a part in interpreting the laws. So even if the law itself says one thing, case law can help a litigation attorney understand the implications of a particular law. So I guess research is pretty important for litigation attorneys!

By Monika — On Aug 18, 2011

A friend of mine works for a large litigation firm. She isn't technically a paralegal, but I think her job description is very similar to that of a paralegal.

Her main responsibility is research. She researches case law and other legal precedents and then reports her finding to the attorneys. Research and writing skills are important job qualifications for her job, because she has to be able to articulate her findings to the attorneys.

I think research plays a big part in winning a case, so what my friend does is really important to the success of the law firm in the long run.

By Moldova — On Aug 17, 2011

@Crispety - I wanted to say that my friend is an attorney at a boutique litigation firm and they focus mainly on employment and complex commercial litigation and she really doesn’t like the work.

She says that the job was very different than she had anticipated and it is not at all exciting. She said that those exciting cases are generally given to senior attorneys, but the average Joe has to deal with a lot of boring cases.

She is even considering doing something else because practicing litigation law is just not what she thought it was going to be.

By Crispety — On Aug 17, 2011

I wanted to add that I know some litigation lawyers really enjoy the litigation process while other lawyers prefer practicing law that does not require much litigation.

For example, real estate lawyers, estate lawyers tax lawyers and some corporate lawyers that work in a business law firm might not really do a whole lot of litigation instead they generally draw up contracts and avoid the courtroom.

I personally think that litigation would be exciting for a lawyer and I think I would prefer the excitement of being a litigation lawyer and performing in front of a jury. It is like an extra challenge that you get when you put on a case for litigation that makes the job seem more exciting.

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