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Litigation/ADR: General

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Litigation
Litigation/ADR
General

Private Sector: Private sector litigation practices come in all shapes and sizes. The large regional, national and global law firms are typically “full service” shops, providing a broad range of services in both transactional work and litigation. Within these firms it is not unusual for the litigation group to be divided into a number of subgroups handling specialized areas like antitrust, bankruptcy, consumer and securities class actions, or product liability law. In big cities and metropolitan areas, even the smaller firms tend to specialize, focusing on particular types of litigation like intellectual property or employment law, though they may not include as broad a range of specialty subgroups as the large national firms.

Some firms have a single litigation department with lawyers who are considered general business or commercial litigators. The generalists handle all types of [...]

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Private Sector: Private sector litigation practices come in all shapes and sizes. The large regional, national and global law firms are typically “full service” shops, providing a broad range of services in both transactional work and litigation. Within these firms it is not unusual for the litigation group to be divided into a number of subgroups handling specialized areas like antitrust, bankruptcy, consumer and securities class actions, or product liability law. In big cities and metropolitan areas, even the smaller firms tend to specialize, focusing on particular types of litigation like intellectual property or employment law, though they may not include as broad a range of specialty subgroups as the large national firms.

Some firms have a single litigation department with lawyers who are considered general business or commercial litigators. The generalists handle all types of business and commercial litigation, from simple tort and contract claims to more complex multi-party, multi-jurisdictional cases.

Lawyers practicing in a small, several-person law firm are also more likely to be generalists. In fact, some even represent their clients in both transactional work and litigation. Some lawyers, such as solo practitioners outside the large metropolitan areas, like to function as jacks-of-all-trades. They may provide a variety of general services: preparing contracts, reviewing lease agreements, drafting wills, and resolving disputes in court when necessary.

Companies may also hire litigators to work in their legal departments “in house.” These attorneys often handle the smaller litigation matters, advise management on the procedures necessary to comply with applicable state and federal laws, and oversee outside counsel on larger-scale cases. Most in-house lawyers, however, practice on the transactional side. It is typically only the larger companies that find a need for in-house litigators as a result of ongoing and predictable litigation in their businesses. These in-house positions are usually only available to lawyers with years of litigation experience.

Many litigators choose to practice in public interest organizations or government agencies. In fact, most opportunities for attorneys in these sectors are litigation or policy-oriented. Public interest organizations tend to specialize, focusing on a particular area of law such as CIVIL RIGHTS, immigration, housing or ENVIRONMENTAL law, just to name a few. Public interest litigators can work one-on-one with clients as in DIRECT LEGAL SERVICES or on national or global issues, as with impact organizations like the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, or the NRDC. For those interested in general public interest litigation, we recommend that you explore the CIVIL RIGHTS or PUBLIC INTEREST paths.

Federal, state and local governments are also big employers of litigators. The Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Offices are two of the most obvious examples, but just about every federal agency has legal advisors. The same is true for most state agencies, with lawyers either within those agencies themselves or part of a particular division within the state’s attorney general offices. Cities also typically have litigators handling anything from slip and fall cases to construction and real estate litigation to contract disputes.

Appellate Practice: Some lawyers, both in the private and public sectors, specialize in appellate work. They may go directly into appellate work -- for example, from a judicial clerkship -- or move to appellate work after years of trial experience. Excellent analytical and writing skills are important for this practice, as they are for any litigation practice. In an appellate brief, however, the ability to present thoroughly researched legal arguments and to present them in an orderly and logical manner is especially important. While trial lawyers focus on presenting the facts in an appeal to the equities of the case as well as the applicable law, appellate lawyers write for an appellate court concerned both with doing justice and with uniformity of the law.

 
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