A civil law lawyer is most commonly referred to as a litigator. This is a specific type of attorney that is hired by a client covers a broad range of legal issues or problems. A civil law attorney may specialize in any of the following fields of law:

When to Hire a Civil Attorney

There are several reasons why businesses, individuals and other entities may need a civil attorney. It is not necessarily upon the initiation of a lawsuit. There are many situations where it is important to have an attorney involved prior to the filing of lawsuit for advice and legal counsel. A lawyer can play an important role if you have a legal issue prior to the filing of a lawsuit. 

However, after a lawsuit has been filed, you likely need to hire a civil attorney to represent you. This is especially true when the matter could lead to serious legal consequences, such paying civil fines or a large amount of monetary damages. In such circumstances, it may be necessary to hire a civil attorney.

When a civil lawsuit may result in significant damages or severe consequences and contains complex legal issues, a party should hire a civil attorney in their area.

What to Expect from Your Civil Attorney

When working with an attorney for civil lawsuits, you should expect them to handle all of the major aspects of the lawsuit you are involved with. This is true whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant. The attorney-client relationship will likely begin with a meeting and then either the initiation of a lawsuit or a responsive filing. This is referred to as the pleading stage of the lawsuit.

Thereafter, a civil and/or personal injury attorney can assist in the discovery process. This process may include but not be limited to the following:

  • Deposing essential witnesses;
  • Hiring expert witnesses as needed;
  • Creating a discovery plan;
  • Serving discovery requests to the opposing party; and
  • Filing documents with the court.

If the disputing parties cannot agree on a settlement, or refuse to settle the matter, a civil and/or personal injury attorney can handle the trial process. This may involve:

  • Filing motions during the trial;
  • Arguing on behalf of their client during court sessions;
  • Participating in jury selection;
  • Submitting new evidence under certain circumstances; and
  • Questioning witnesses who are providing live testimony.

Some other examples of what to expect from your civil attorneys include:

  • Assistance in drafting settlement agreements;
  • Filing appeals once the trial has concluded;
  • Filing a separate lawsuit, or joining another party to the existing lawsuit; and

Civil attorneys are also obligated to uphold specific professional, ethical, and legal standards when representing their client. An example of this would be how a lawyer is required to exercise professional judgment on behalf of their client. What this means is that they cannot represent a prospective client whose interests would conflict with those of an already existing client. This also means that they must not accept financial interests from clients other than their standard legal fees. Doing so would be considered accepting a bribe.

Attorney Client Privilege:

Civil attorneys also have a duty to maintain the confidences of a client. This is known as attorney-client privilege and means that the attorney cannot:

  • Disclose case information to outside parties;
  • Disclose a client’s secrets in order to gain personal benefits; and/or
  • Reveal specific details for which a client did not give their consent.

You should expect your civil attorney to inform you of all of your settlement options or resolutions. You should also expect them to honestly assess your chances of success in your lawsuit/litigation or claim. A civil attorney should advise you about how their fee structure works for billing purposes, then bill according to the agreed upon fee structure.

What is a fee structure?

Civil attorneys usually operate on an hourly or contingent fee basis. In Pennsylvania, lawyers are required to have a written fee agreement with their clients. 

Hourly agreement – this means that lawyers bill at an agreed upon hourly rate for their professional services. This is a common type of fee agreement when you are the Defendant in an action. It is also a common type of fee structure in criminal and family law matters. 

Contingent fee agreement – This type of fee structure is one where the lawyer will take a portion of what is recovered upon the resolution of your case. With this type of fee structure, lawyers only get paid if they make a recovery on your behalf. This is a common type of fee agreement in personal injury cases. 

These are the two most common types of fee agreements that exist between clients and attorneys. You should ask your attorney for clarification regarding fee structure during the hiring process. 

Do You Need a Civil Attorney?

If you have had some type of injury, property damage or other civil issue you should consider consulting with experienced and local civil lawyers. It is important that you consult with attorney your area, because they will be best suited to understanding your state’s specific laws regarding the matter. An experienced attorney can help you through every step of the process, and will represent you in court as needed.



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