What is litigation?
Litigation refers the legal proceedings between opposing parties to enforce or defend a legal right. Parties often settle litigation by coming to an agreement out of court, but the parties may also go to court and have the case heard and a resolution determined by a jury or judge. Litigation starts well before the parties actually get to court, generally starting when one party chooses to hire an attorney to enforce or defend his rights. There are often many “pre-court” litigation services needed, such as writing a “demand” letter, demanding another party to do something or stop doing something. Then, there is often negotiation between the parties to attempt to come to an agreement outside of court, to avoid the cost and time of a formal lawsuit.
Some parties may choose to avoid a formal trial altogether and attempt to handle the matter through some type of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration. These processes are less formal than traditional court proceedings, and are often cheaper and faster than traditional litigation.
If the pre-lawsuit negotiation and alternative dispute resolution don’t result in an agreement between the parties, a formal lawsuit will likely follow. A lawsuit begins when a plaintiff files a formal Complaint in court and serves a copy to the defendant to give notice of the lawsuit and the defendant responds by filing an Answer. After this, the parties will begin Discovery, which is the period of investigation of the facts alleged and involves the exchange of evidence and information between parties. After these steps, a case moves forward to trial and the parties take turns presenting their cases to the jury or judge. After both parties have presented their cases, the jury or judge, deliberates and returns a verdict deciding the case. Litigation continues after a verdict is rendered if one party is unhappy and chooses to appeal and also to complete steps necessary to otherwise properly close a case.
While the above summary does not cover every aspect of a trial, or litigation in general, it is a good overview of the process. Litigation is an ongoing process and involves a lot of complex issues. It is important to choose an experienced litigation lawyer to ensure you are competently represented. Our litigation attorneys have extensive state, federal and appellate court litigation experience and work to pursue strong advocacy on behalf of our clients.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is any means of settling a dispute outside of a courtroom. ADR, commonly arbitration or mediation, are often utilized by parties aiming for a cheaper and faster resolution than a traditional lawsuit.
Business and commercial litigation encompasses disputes that arise in the context of operating a business, including breach of contract issues, business torts, and allegations of breach of fiduciary duty. Our attorneys can help you whether you’re facing trade secret disputes, restructuring issues, unfair competition, breach of contract matters, or any other business concerns.
Some of the most common employment disputes include claims of wrongful termination, wage disputes, discrimination and harassment claims, and non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, you have state and federally protected rights and our attorneys can help ensure those rights are protected.
Government contracts law deals with the award and performance of contracts to which the government is a party, as well as any related litigation. Private businesses hoping to bid for contracts with local, state, or federal governments must comply with many regulations and follow specific procedures to be eligible for such contracts, and our attorneys are experienced in advising clients through every stage of the bidding process.
Intellectual property law involves protecting the rights of those who create original works. Whether you need assistance with copyrights, patents, or trademarks, our intellectual property attorneys can help you protect your work.
Our attorneys are often hired to serve as local counsel for other out-of-jurisdiction attorneys. With experience navigating the local waters, insight into the local judges and court staff, as well as opposing counsel, and a familiarity with the local culture, our attorneys are a great local asset.
There are generally many pre-litigation actions taken before a formal lawsuit is ever filed, and often in lieu of a formal lawsuit. These actions open up lines of communication between parties, providing an opportunity for settlement outside of a formal court proceeding, while also allowing for privacy for the parties involved and reduced costs.
Defamation is the publication of any false statement of fact with the knowledge that it is untrue and the intent to harm another person’s reputation. A great overview of defamation law was provided by Andy Baxter in this Video.
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