Trial lawyers or civil litigators
are lawyers who represent clients in civil lawsuits. Trial lawyers spend much of their time on pre-trial issues such as discovering facts, deposing witnesses, and preparing cases to be tried. They also spend a significant amount of time negotiating, drafting documents, writing briefs, and filing motions. Athough most cases are resolved before trial, litigators must have the confidence and skill to argue motions and try a case to a jury or judge. Litigators also frequently handle appeals after a case is tried.
Lawyers who do litigation must have strong legal research and writing skills, since a large part of the practice involves writing. They need to be well organized and detail-oriented, and have the ability to see the big picture. Trial lawyers also need to be skilled negotiators and have good people skills, since they spend a great deal of time settling cases and talking with clients, witnesses, and opposing counsel.
These are the basic courses that -- at a minimum -- employers expect a student interested in this specialty to have .
Students interested in this practice area should consider including one or more of the following courses as electives.
- Civil Procedure II
- Trial Advocacy
These courses deepen or broaden the skills and substantive information that a lawyer in this field needs and also provide advanced courses for students interested in a specialty within this area of practice.
- Advanced Legal Writing
- Advanced Legal Writing: Pretrial Practice
- Advanced Legal Writing: Problem Solving & Writing
- Appellate Practice
- Business Organizations I
- Client Interviewing and Counseling
- Conflict of Laws
- Federal Jurisdiction
- Insurance Law
- Lawyering Skills
- Oral Communications
- Pre-Trial Advocacy
- Administrative Law
- Contracts II
- Product Safety Law
- Substantive Law Classes (such as Environmental Law, Immigration Law, Equal Employment Law, etc.)
- Tax I (A or B)
- Torts II