Lawyers practice law, but there are many roles and specialties within the legal field for lawyers to specialize in different types of cases. Litigation attorneys represent defendants in civil lawsuits and handle the process before court, during court, and after court.
If you want to take on lawsuits and argue cases in the courtroom, becoming a litigation attorney may be right for you. Learn more about the roles and responsibilities, job outlook, and requirements for a litigation attorney.
What Do Litigation Attorneys Do?
Litigation attorneys, also known as trial attorneys or litigators, represent clients in legal disputes that are resolved through court proceedings. They advocate on behalf of their clients and navigate the complex legal process.
The roles and responsibilities of a litigation attorney include:
- Investigating the case
- Consulting with advising clients
- Drafting pleas
- Filing documents to the court
- Representing clients during a civil trial
- Arranging and conducting depositions
- Gathering evidence and investigating witness statements
- Negotiating settlements
- Appealing court decisions
Litigation attorneys work in many areas of law, including civil cases like personal injury claims and property disputes, commercial litigation for partnership disputes and contract disputes, and employment litigation, such as wrongful termination and discrimination.
Clients hire litigation attorneys to settle cases before they go to trial, negotiate with defendants and insurance companies, or advocate for them in disputes. There are a variety of matters that may fall under litigation, including business disputes, product liability lawsuits, intellectual property disputes, and medical malpractice.
Benefits of Choosing a Career as a Litigation Attorney
If you want a career as a trial attorney but don’t want to work in criminal cases, a career as a litigation attorney offers a lot of advantages:
- Helping people in need: Litigation attorneys often work with clients who are facing significant challenges or injustices. When you represent them, you can make a meaningful impact on their lives.
- Each case has a unique story: Every case presents a new set of facts, legal issues, and challenges. This keeps the work interesting and intellectually stimulating to stay engaged and motivated.
- Opportunities to practice in court: Trial and courtroom work is a skill all on its own. Being a litigation attorney gives you an opportunity to represent clients in trials and keep your public speaking and argumentation skills sharp.
- Thrilling and rewarding experience: Case litigation can be exhilarating. The satisfaction of getting a positive outcome for your client is rewarding.
- Profitable business: Litigation is one of the highest-paying practice areas in the legal field. According to Indeed, the national average salary for litigation attorneys is approximately $101,799 per year, making it one of the most lucrative legal fields. Litigation attorney salaries have increased by 7% in the past five years.
How to Become a Litigation Attorney
Becoming an attorney requires lengthy and challenging education and licensing processes.
Lawyers need to have a bachelor’s degree to gain admission to law school. Some schools offer pre-law programs, but you can get a bachelor’s degree in related fields like government, criminal justice, or psychology.
Once you obtain a bachelor’s degree, you will need to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), which tests logical and analytical skills. It’s best to start later in your four-year program to have time for studying, practice tests, and the formal exam.
Though an important one, the LSAT is only part of the admission requirements for law school. You will also need a high grade point average (GPA) and supplemental application materials like letters of recommendation.
It’s important to apply to law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Most law schools have three-year programs to earn a Juris Doctor (JD). The final years of law school offer specialized courses to focus on litigation skills like case research, investigations, and discovery.
After earning your JD, you must pass the state bar exam in your chosen state. Some attorneys take the exam in multiple states. Once you pass, you can submit your results to the state to become officially licensed to practice.
Though the bulk of the educational requirements are covered by the time you pass the bar, you will need to earn continuing education credits to maintain your license to practice. Each state has its own requirements, but it may include online courses, lectures, or conferences.
Lawyers have the option to enter post-graduate programs to expand their knowledge and competitiveness, such as a Master of Law (LLM).
Essential Skills to Be a Litigation Attorney
Being a successful litigation attorney requires a lot of skills, including:
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills to handle documents and perform well in the courtroom.
- Research skills and an eye for detail to dig into research and help clients win their cases.
- Organizational skills to organize cases, contacts, documents, and more.
- Logical and analytical skills to assess cases and develop arguments with an unbiased lens. In trial settings, litigation lawyers need to think quickly on their feet.
Job Market Trends in Litigation Law
The job market trends in litigation law reflect a generally positive outlook for the field with modest growth expected in the coming years. The projected job growth rate for litigation attorneys is estimated to be around 6% from 2018 to 2028. This indicates a steady demand for litigation services.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projection, the demand for lawyers across all practice areas is expected to increase by 10% by the year 2031, which translates to about 48,700 openings for lawyers each year on average.
Best States to Practice in Litigation Law
Though litigation law is lucrative across the country, some areas offer more opportunities in the field. Litigation lawyers often have more clients and earn higher salaries in cities than in rural areas.
Certain states have better outlooks for litigation lawyers as well, including California, New York, and Colorado. The average annual salary in California is $137,005, with the highest 10% earning $208,000, while New York has an annual salary of $108,872, with the highest 10% earning $176,000. Colorado comes in third with an annual salary of $106,207, with the highest 10% earning $171,000.
Become a Litigation Lawyer
Being a litigation attorney is a rewarding career path with a lot of demand and high compensation, especially for aspiring lawyers who want the challenge and prestige of representing clients in civil court. As the legal landscape evolves, the indispensability of litigation services ensures a sustained need for skilled attorneys who can adeptly navigate complex legal disputes. This combination of intellectual engagement, dynamic challenges, potential for recognition, and the allure of substantial rewards makes pursuing a career as a litigation attorney an enticing and highly coveted pursuit for emerging legal professionals.