What a Civil Litigation Lawyer Can Do for You

A civil litigation lawyer can represent you when you have disputes or legal issues that do not involve criminal law. The consequence of civil litigation includes payment of money or the performance or non-performance of a particular act.

Scope of civil litigation

The scope of civil litigation is quite broad. It can involve personal litigation, such as cases involving personal injury or medical malpractice. It can also involve business litigation, such as breach of contract, breach of warranties, employment litigation, and unfair business practices. Civil litigation also encompasses real estate litigation, such as landlord-tenant cases, discrimination, premises liability, and construction defects. Because of the wide scope of civil litigation, some civil litigation lawyers specialize in particular areas.

The specialized knowledge of a civil litigation lawyer

Despite the fact that civil litigation encompasses a wide scope, one thing is common in these cases: the application of the civil practice law and rules. A civil litigation lawyer, also known as a trial lawyer, is knowledgeable and has experience in the application of the rules of civil procedure: discovery (which includes interrogatories and depositions), motions, requests for judicial intervention, restraining orders, the presentation of evidence in trial, and negotiations. A civil litigation attorney can represent you during pretrial hearings, depositions, arbitration, mediation, and trial.

The most common forms of civil litigation

The most common forms of civil litigation are: divorce, personal injury, real estate, business, and estate.


Divorce is the most common form of civil litigation. Every day, plenty of people are getting divorced. In a contested divorce, the spouses are  adversarial because they cannot resolve their competing interests in terms of division of marital property, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support. Even if the spouses separate amicably, the spouses’ interests are in conflict with each other because:

  1. one spouse may want custody of the children and child support, while the other might not want to pay such amount of child support;
  2. one spouse wants to be paid spousal maintenance, while the higher income-earning spouse does not want to pay it; or
  3. one spouse wants more of the marital property.

In a divorce, a civil litigation lawyer can represent you in the pre-filing divorce settlement negotiations to ensure your rights are represented, protected, and preserved.

Personal injury

One can get injured in many places:

  • at the workplace
  • at the mall
  • while driving
  • as a pedestrian
  • in the park
  • on a playground
  • in school
  • in someone else’s home
  • in someone else’s or business

Most of these injuries are accidents, which could have been avoided with the exercise of ordinary diligence. In personal injury cases, civil litigation lawyers may accept a strong case on contingency fee, which means you don’t have to pay anything unless and until the lawyer recovers something for you, either through settlement or a judgment award. A civil litigation lawyer will be able to help you identify who the parties liable for the accident are. Most often, there could be two or more parties liable, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, in a motor vehicle accident, the driver of the car and the owner of the car, if they are two different persons, may be held liable depending on the facts of the case.

Real estate

Civil litigation can also arise in real estate, especially in cases of breaches of contract. When the seller does not want to push through with selling or the buyer does not want to push through with buying, civil litigation may ensue, especially when the reason for not wanting to push through is a factual dispute or a cause not recognized by the contract. Here, a civil litigation lawyer can represent you, even when no action is filed. Usually, these cases are settled without the filing of an action, especially when lawyers are involved. The presence of lawyers usually gives the appearance that a party serious in his or her claim, forcing the other party to also get a lawyer, and to finally settle in order to save on legal fees.


Business disputes happen all the time. These disputes happen either between business partners, between a client and a business, between a landlord and a business, or between a business and its employee. Most disputes can be amicably settled between the parties without the help of a mediator or lawyer. However, when parties refuse to budge from their position and are unwilling to negotiate, it may be time to get a civil litigation lawyer on board. Being represented by an attorney shows to the other party that you are serious with your claims and are not afraid to take it to court. For this reason, most parties attempt to settle at this point.


Do you suspect that you are getting short-changed on your rightful inheritance? Have a feeling that the Executor is mishandling the estate? You may need a civil litigation lawyer if you feel any of the following:

Are the beneficiaries accusing you of cheating them? Are they challenging the will? A civil litigation lawyer can help you fight back.

When to hire a civil litigation lawyer

When you have a dispute, it’s best to amicably settle between the parties in order save on legal fees. When it appears that the parties do not want to negotiate or settle, a civil litigation lawyer can represent you in filing an action to force parties to settle. Usually, once an action is filed, parties start seriously thinking about settlement because legal fees can be expensive.

A civil litigation lawyer should not only be good in court, but also in negotiations, because most disputes are not resolved through trial but through out-of-court settlements. The civil litigation lawyer will draft the legal documentation you need to settle the case. This legal documentation should be complete in language and provisions to ensure that parties will not be able to raise further issues in the future.

How much does a civil litigation lawyer cost

A civil litigation lawyer can charge in three ways:


A civil litigation lawyer may charge you a contingency fee usually in personal injury and medical malpractice cases when your case is strong. Here, the client does not pay any upfront amount, but if the civil litigation lawyer is able to successfully recover any award or settlement for the client, the lawyer will be entitled to an amount equivalent to 30 to 40% of what has been recovered plus its legal fees. Sometimes, the client will be required to make a reasonable upfront deposit to cover actual costs, such as photocopying, obtaining transcripts, deposition costs, etc.

Hourly rate

A civil litigation lawyer will normally charge you an hourly rate when the lawyer cannot forecast how many hours will be spent on your case. This may be due to the complexity of the case or the fact that the parties seem inclined to go through trial. Here, the lawyer will ask you to sign a retainer agreement, which is a downpayment for the hours worked. The retainer fee is deposited in a trust account. As the lawyer works and bills you, the amount of hours worked and billed will be taken from the retainer fee. When the retainer fee is exhausted, the lawyer will request for a new deposit so work in the case can continue.

Hourly rates will depend on the location, the type of work, and the experience of the lawyer. New lawyers charge a lower hourly rate than older lawyers with more experience in a particular area of practice. The type of work can also influence the hourly rate. Sometimes, lawyers working in traffic offenses might charge lower than lawyers working in trusts, wills, and estates. The most influential factor, however, in the hourly rate is the location. Lawyers practicing in a rural area will have lower hourly rates than lawyers practicing in a metropolitan area, such as New York City. In New York, hourly rates range from $250 to $500 per hour.

Flat fee

Civil litigation lawyers may charge a flat fee on certain types of work when the lawyer can forecast the number of hours to be spent on your case. Flat fee is usually offered in contract drafting, drafting of wills and trusts, uncontested divorces, real estate closings of single-family homes, apartments, condos, or coops, or when you want your pre-filing settlement agreement drafted.

A civil litigation attorney is the attorney to call when you have a dispute. You either want the other party to pay you damages, to perform an act, or to be restrained from performing an act. You can hire the civil litigation attorney prior to filing to ensure that you are represented during pre-filing negotiations, or immediately hire one once you receive a complaint and summons. The earlier you get your civil litigation attorney on board, the better, because it allows you to act accordingly with knowledge of the legal consequences that can happen.

Should you need a civil litigation attorney, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York City, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 212-233-1233 or send us an email at [email protected].

Attorney Albert Goodwin

Law Offices of
Albert Goodwin, PLLC
31 W 34 Str, Suite 7058
New York, NY 10001
[email protected]