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Should You Hire a Litigation Attorney? The Honest Truth

What Exactly is a Litigation Attorney?

A litigation attorney – is someone who represents clients in civil lawsuits; they handle all the nitty-gritty of taking legal disputes through the court system. Their expertise lies in the back-and-forth of litigation, from the investigation phase to appealing rulings.Litigation attorneys are sort of like legal warriors. They fight for your rights and interests when you’ve been wronged, or are trying to resolve a major conflict. Their role is to advocate for you and build the strongest possible case.Some lawyers are “litigators” who solely focus on litigation, while others are general practice attorneys who handle some litigation matters along with other legal areas like contracts, estates, etc.The main duties of a litigator include:

  • Investigating claims and gathering evidence
  • Interviewing and prepping witnesses
  • Handling the discovery process (exchanging info between parties)
  • Drafting motions, pleadings and other court documents
  • Negotiating settlements before trial
  • Representing you at hearings and trials
  • Filing appeals if needed

So in essence, they manage every single stage of the litigation process for you. Having an experienced litigator on your side, can make a huge difference in how your case plays out.

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When Might You Need a Litigation Lawyer?

There are lots of situations where hiring a litigation attorney could be wise, or even crucial. Generally, you’ll want to at least consult one if you’re dealing with a major legal dispute that could:

  • Seriously impact your finances or assets
  • Damage your reputation or business
  • Result in you owing large sums of money
  • Put you at risk of fines, penalties or even jail time

More specifically, here are some common scenarios where clients hire litigators:

Business/Contract Disputes

If you’re a business owner or executive, you may end up in court over a contract breach, partnership dispute, employment issue, intellectual property conflict, and more. Having the right litigator can protect your company’s interests.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

When someone else’s negligence causes you harm, whether it’s a car accident, medical malpractice, defective product, etc., you may be able to sue for damages. Litigators build personal injury cases.

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Insurance/Bad Faith Claims

Insurers don’t always hold up their end of the bargain. If your insurance company denies a legitimate claim in bad faith, a litigator can take them to court and fight for what you’re owed.

Fraud or Misconduct Cases

Litigation is often involved in cases of fraud, whether it’s securities fraud, corporate fraud, or someone stealing your intellectual property. Litigators investigate and take legal action.

Civil Rights Violations

If your civil rights were violated due to discrimination, police misconduct, free speech infringement, etc., you can hire a litigator to file a civil suit and seek justice.The bottom line? Anytime you need to formally resolve a major legal dispute through the court system, it’s probably wise to at least consult a litigation attorney to understand your options and rights.

How Much Does a Litigation Lawyer Cost?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. Litigation is complex and costs can vary drastically based on multiple factors, including:

  • The specific type of case
  • The amount of damages/money involved
  • Whether it’s a contingency fee or hourly rate
  • The attorney’s experience level
  • If it goes to trial or settles pre-trial
  • How long the litigation process takes
  • Court fees, expert witness fees, and other costs

That said, here’s a general overview of what you might pay for a litigation lawyer:

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Hourly Rates

Many litigators bill by the hour, with rates ranging from $150-$1000+ per hour. Larger firms in major cities tend to have the highest rates.Hourly fees get expensive fast, since litigation is very labor-intensive. Even a “simple” case could easily rack up $15,000-$30,000+ in legal fees if it goes to trial.

Contingency Fees

In contingency fee arrangements, the lawyer takes a percentage (often 33-40%) of any settlement or award you receive, instead of hourly fees.This lowers the upfront costs, but the lawyer’s fees come out of your compensation. So if you win $100K and they take 33%, you only pocket $67K.Many personal injury and civil rights attorneys use contingency fees. They’re less common for business litigation.

Flat Fee Services

Some litigation lawyers offer limited, flat-fee services for certain tasks like reviewing contracts, drafting a complaint, or handling preliminary hearings.This gives you more cost predictability upfront, but flat fees are rare for full-blown litigation cases that go to trial.

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Additional Costs

No matter the fee structure, you’ll likely owe extra costs beyond just attorney fees, like:

  • Court filing fees
  • Fees for expert consultants or witnesses
  • Deposition costs
  • Fees for investigators or paralegals
  • Document fees (for exhibits, etc.)
  • Travel costs if the case involves out-of-town work

These can easily add up to thousands more in expenses.Bottom line: litigation is expensive no matter how you slice it. Having a candid talk about fees upfront is crucial, so you know what you’re getting into.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Litigator

Like most things, there are pros and cons to working with a litigation attorney. Let’s break them down:

Pros of Hiring a Litigator

  • Expertise: Litigation is extremely complex, with lots of rules and procedures. An experienced litigator knows the ins-and-outs, giving you a major advantage.
  • Objectivity: It’s easy to get emotional when money/assets are on the line. A litigator provides an objective, impartial view to keep things grounded.
  • Efficiency: Trying to handle litigation yourself is a recipe for delays and mistakes. Litigators keep things moving efficiently.
  • Leverage: Defendants often take cases more seriously when you have skilled legal representation, incentivizing them to settle.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing you have a pro advocating for your interests and rights provides invaluable reassurance.

Cons of Hiring a Litigator

  • Cost: As mentioned, litigation attorneys don’t come cheap. Legal fees can quickly become exorbitant.
  • No Guarantees: Even great litigators can’t guarantee a win. You could spend tons on legal fees and still lose your case.
  • Time Investment: Litigation is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll need to free up time for meetings, depositions, etc. over months/years.
  • Emotional Toll: Lawsuits are extremely stressful. Having your life picked apart in court takes its toll mentally.
  • Reputation Risks: High-profile cases could open you up to negative publicity or public scrutiny you can’t control.

So in essence, you’re trading cost and stress for expertise and leverage. Only you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons for your particular situation.

How to Find and Vet the Right Litigator

Hiring the wrong litigation lawyer could be catastrophic for your case (and your wallet). You can’t just google “litigators near me” and pick someone randomly.Instead, take a methodical approach to find the perfect fit:

Get Referrals from Trusted Sources

Ask friends, colleagues, other attorneys, or online communities like Reddit for litigation lawyer recommendations, especially for your specific type of case.

Check Their Credentials and Experience

Look for attorneys who:

  • Graduated from respected law schools
  • Have years of courtroom experience
  • Specialize in your specific area of litigation
  • Have a proven track record of success

You can verify credentials and case history on sites like, and state bar association websites.

Read Reviews and Testimonials

Get a sense of what it’s like to work with each prospective attorney. Check reviews on Google,, and their own website for client testimonials.

Evaluate Their Communication Style

You’ll be working closely with this person, so you need to actually like communicating with them. Pay attention during the consultation:

  • Do they take time to understand your situation?
  • Do they explain things clearly without legal jargon?
  • Do they listen attentively or just talk over you?
  • Are they responsive and professional in scheduling?

If they seem arrogant, impatient or like bad communicators, keep looking.

Discuss Litigation Strategy and Fees

Don’t just hire the first litigator you meet. Have in-depth conversations about:

  • Their assessment of your legal position
  • Their strategic approach to handling your case
  • Potential challenges or obstacles they foresee
  • Fee structures, rates and expected costs

This vets their expertise while ensuring you’re on the same page financially.

Trust Your Gut

At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable entrusting this person with your case. If something seems off, it’s okay to be picky and keep interviewing attorneys.Finding the right fit for your budget, personality and legal needs takes time, but getting it right is crucial.

Alternatives to Hiring a Litigation Attorney

While litigators provide unmatched expertise, they’re not always feasible or necessary. Depending on your situation, you may be able to avoid litigation altogether through:


In mediation, you and the other party use a neutral third-party to negotiate. If you can’t agree, arbitration brings in an arbitrator to render a decision you both agree is binding upfront.Mediation and arbitration are cheaper and faster than litigation, with no need for attorneys in some cases.

Settlement Negotiations

Before suing, you can try negotiating a settlement directly with the other party or their attorneys. This avoids court but still allows you to have a lawyer advising you.

Small Claims Court

Many states allow you to take cases worth less than $5,000-$10,000 to small claims court yourself, without a lawyer needed. The process and rules are simplified.

Representing Yourself (Pro Se)

For higher-stakes cases, you can theoretically represent yourself pro se. But unless you have legal training, this is extremely risky and inadvisable.The bottom line is that hiring a litigator is often optional, not mandatory. Consider if alternatives make sense for your specific circumstances.

Key Takeaways on Litigation Lawyers

We’ve covered a ton, but here are the key points to really digest:

  • Litigation attorneys manage all phases of the litigation process, from investigation through appeals
  • You may need one for contract disputes, personal injuries, insurance bad faith, fraud cases, civil rights issues and more
  • Their expertise is extremely valuable, but also extremely expensive (be ready for $10,000+ in fees)
  • Thoroughly vet litigators based on experience, reviews, communication skills and strategy fit
  • Mediation or representing yourself are options, but very risky for high-stakes cases
  • At the end of the day, hiring a skilled litigator gives you the best chance of a favorable outcome

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for if you need to hire a litigation lawyer. It depends on the specifics of your situation and how much is at stake.But hopefully this guide has shed some light on what to expect and how to make the right call. Litigation is always a big decision – don’t take it lightly.

Final Thoughts

Look, I get it – the prospect of hiring an attorney and going through litigation is probably pretty daunting right now. The process seems confusing, expensive and like a huge hassle.But if you’ve got a serious legal dispute on your hands that’s putting your finances, business or even freedom at risk, you can’t afford not to explore your options for professional legal representation.A skilled litigator could be the difference between getting made whole again after being wronged, or getting royally screwed over.So don’t just resign yourself to taking the hit. At least take that first step of consulting with some litigation lawyers in your area to understand what they could do for your case.Most offer free initial consultations, so you’ve got nothing to lose by hearing them out. Who knows, you might be surprised at how having the right litigator in your corner could change everything.Just be diligent about vetting them properly and going with someone you fully trust. This is too important a decision to take lightly.I really hope this guide has helped demystify litigation attorneys a bit and shown you what to expect. But if you’ve still got lingering questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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