What is Litigation Exactly?

There are many types of law, and not all of them are recognizable to those outside of the legal profession. Unfortunately, you can’t hire just one lawyer to help you with all of your legal issues and may need an entire team for just one case, depending on the scope. At Thorton, we focus on litigation but what does that mean exactly? 

By definition, litigation means the process of taking legal action, from one party against another. Many people assume that the word litigation is interchangeable with lawsuit, but litigation also encapsulates the activities that happen before, during, and after a lawsuit. Most litigations are settled between the two parties, with legal help from their attorneys, but these types of cases can also be decided in court by a judge or jury.  

Litigation begins the moment someone decided to take legal action, which is usually when they hire attorney to protect their legal rights. The first step in litigation is investigation to determine the facts of the case. Next, the two parties negotiate to avoid a lawsuit. Sometimes lawyers will engage in mediation to come to an agreement on how best to move forward, but if none is made, then a formal lawsuit is issued.  

From here, the attorneys will go through a discovery period to gain information and evidence that will support their cases. They also may engage in motion practice to force the court to make a decision on one aspect of the case. This can include more time for the discovery period. 

Then, it’s time for the trial which is a formal presentation of the case to either a judge or a jury. The trial ends with a verdict, although litigation can still continue. This is when a monetary amount is given to the plaintiff or the defendant tries to appeal the case.     

Depending on the case litigation can be quite easy and quick or it can take several years.