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  • Writer's pictureAlexander J. Kemeny

What's the Difference Between a Civil Trial Attorney and a Litigator?

trial attorney view of courtroom

In the legal landscape, the terms "civil trial attorney" and "litigator" are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct roles that can significantly impact the outcome of a case. Understanding the differences between these two types of attorneys is crucial for individuals seeking representation in civil disputes and can profoundly influence the success of their legal endeavors. A trial attorney is a litigator, but a litigator is not a trial attorney. - The distinction is important.

Civil Trial Attorney: Advocates with Trial Experience

        A civil trial attorney is a legal specialist who focuses on representing clients in civil court proceedings. These legal disputes encompass a broad array of matters, including contract disputes, personal injury claims, property disputes, and family law issues. Civil trial attorneys are adept at navigating the complexities of the courtroom and are skilled advocates who fight vigorously to protect the interests of their clients.

Key Responsibilities of a Civil Trial Attorney:


1.      Case Preparation: Civil trial attorneys prepare their cases by gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, conducting legal research, and strategizing trial tactics. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their clients' cases to develop effective arguments.


2.      Trial Advocacy: A significant portion of a civil trial attorney's work involves courtroom appearances. They present arguments, examine and cross-examine witnesses, introduce evidence, and make persuasive appeals to the judge or jury. Their goal is to secure a favorable outcome for their client, whether through settlement negotiations or a verdict at trial.


3.      Client Representation: Civil trial attorneys serve as their clients' advocates throughout the legal process. They provide legal advice, explain the implications of legal decisions, and advocate for their clients' rights and interests at every stage of litigation.


4.      Settlement Negotiations: While civil trial attorneys are prepared to take cases to trial, they also engage in settlement negotiations to resolve disputes outside of court. Negotiating favorable settlements requires strong communication and negotiation skills, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the legal issues at hand.




A litigator is a broader term that encompasses attorneys who handle various aspects of the litigation process, including pre-trial motions, written discovery, depositions, and settlement negotiations. However, they often lack trial experience and the expertise involved in successfully trying cases in court.

Key Responsibilities of a Litigator:


1.      Case Management: Litigators oversee all aspects of a case, from initial client consultations to final resolution. They develop case strategies, manage deadlines, and coordinate with other legal professionals, such as paralegals and expert witnesses, to ensure efficient case management.


2.      Pre-Trial Procedures: Litigators handle various pre-trial procedures, including drafting legal documents such as complaints, answers, and motions. They engage in discovery, which involves gathering evidence, taking depositions, and exchanging information with opposing counsel.


3.      Settlement Negotiations: Like civil trial attorneys, litigators engage in settlement negotiations to resolve disputes without the need for a trial. They assess the strengths and weaknesses of their clients' cases, negotiate with opposing parties or their legal representatives, and strive to reach mutually acceptable settlement agreements.



Why Opt for a Civil Trial Attorney Over a Litigator?


  1. Specialized Trial Expertise: Civil trial attorneys specialize in courtroom advocacy and have extensive experience representing clients in trials. While litigators may handle a wide range of legal matters, not all possess the specialized trial skills and experience of dedicated civil trial attorneys.

  2. Focused Attention on Trial Preparation: By retaining a civil trial attorney, clients benefit from the undivided attention and specialized expertise of a legal professional who prepares cases for trial – not merely for settlement negotiations. This focused approach can yield significant advantages in the courtroom and often results in settlements with much more favorable terms.

  3. Confidence in Courtroom Advocacy: When facing litigation, clients need a legal advocate who instills confidence and reassurance in the courtroom. Civil trial attorneys are seasoned advocates who excel at presenting persuasive arguments and advocating zealously on behalf of their clients. Importantly, they are not afraid to take cases to trial.

  4. Maximizing the Likelihood of Success: The outcome of a civil trial can have profound implications for the parties involved. By hiring a civil trial lawyer, clients maximize their chances of achieving a favorable outcome and securing justice in the courtroom.


        While both civil trial attorneys and litigators play essential roles in the legal profession, the specialized expertise and courtroom advocacy skills of civil trial attorneys set them apart as indispensable allies for clients navigating the complexities of civil litigation. When faced with a civil dispute that may proceed to trial, choosing a dedicated civil trial attorney can make all the difference in achieving a successful outcome and securing justice in the courtroom.


Kemeny, Ramp & Renaud, LLC is committed to pursuing vigorous, cost-effective strategies designed to secure the best possible results. The trial attorneys at our firm are available to assist you. Call us at (732) 853-1725 to schedule a consultation.


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