When you have to appear in court for something as minor as a traffic ticket, you likely become nervous speaking before the judge. Just pleading your position against the officer issuing the ticket causes considerable stress. Why put yourself through the trauma of attempting to defend yourself in court on a more serious matter?
Hiring a trial lawyer is a positive step forward. What is a trial lawyer? They are attorneys familiar with the complete legal process.
An experienced trial lawyer is comfortable with preparing a case for presentation in court. This includes gathering evidence, prepping witnesses, and participating in voir dire. Voir dire is the process judges and attorneys use in questioning potential jurors to determine if they are competent and suitable to hear the case.
Trial Lawyer vs Litigator
A litigator is an attorney that prefers to settle cases out of court. They take a case through the litigation process. This may include mediation to reach a settlement agreeable to both parties.
A trial lawyer prefers to make a difference by fighting their client’s case in court. Many people picture criminal trial lawyers who battle high-profile cases that monopolize the media for days. These attorneys are invaluable to those they represent.
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, only 4% to 5% of all cases in the United States go to trial. The majority of personal injury attorneys prefer to reach an out-of-court settlement.
That is when you need to use the experienced trial lawyers at Thomas Law Offices. This firm is a national personal injury firm that prefers to take cases to trial. Handling cases nationwide on a contingency basis means you pay nothing unless you win your case.
Trial Lawyer Educational Requirements
Your trial lawyer undergoes the same educational training as all other types of lawyers. They must obtain a bachelor’s degree, then be accepted into an accredited law school. Law school is an additional three years.
Following graduation, they must pass an ethics examination and take the bar exam. After completing these steps, they must find a sponsor. The sponsor must be a licensed attorney who files a motion requesting the attorney be admitted to the bar.
The new attorney takes an oath and is formally sworn in as an officer of the court. Following their induction, the attorney begins working in the legal area they choose.
Trial Lawyer Job Description
Many people think an attorney’s time is spent standing in court presenting cases. Courtroom scenarios on TV make it seem like a life of last-minute evidence bursting through the courtroom door. This is not reality.
Your trial attorney will spend days going over files, contacting witnesses, and seeking experts to testify. This includes experts in accident re-enactment, medical, health and safety, and more. Once they secure experts they will obtain their curriculum vitae, which is necessary for court acceptance as an expert.
They will conduct additional discovery by filing interrogatories or conducting depositions. Both of these involve testimony under oath, one written, one verbal.
Both plaintiff and defense attorneys may file motions. This can be to compel the other party to comply with discovery requests, request the suppression of information, or request the judge grant summary disposition. A motion for summary disposition is one party claiming that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that they are entitled to a ruling in their favor.
As the date for trial approaches your attorney will review testimony with witnesses. They will meet with you to review your role in the case and whether or not you will be testifying. Your attorney will prepare subpoenas, file witness and exhibit lists, and prepare for voir dire.
Voir dire is when both attorneys and the judge question prospective jurors to determine their suitability to serve on the jury. On the day of trial, your attorney will be in the courtroom early marking exhibits and putting them in a designated location for use during trial.
The Civil Trial
Each person involved in the trial process has duties they must perform. The procedures for a criminal trial will be similar, with the prosecuting attorney serving in the position of plaintiff.
The judge overseeing the matter must maintain order in the courtroom. If an attorney raises an objection to a question the other attorney is asking a witness, the judge makes a determination on whether to allow (overrule) or sustain (uphold) the objection. If an objection is overruled the witness must answer; if sustained the attorney must rephrase the question.
The judge gives instructions to the jury, including laws that apply to the case. If a bench trial is being conducted, the judge will weigh the facts and evidence presented and issue a ruling.
Each attorney’s role during trial is to present the facts supporting their client’s position. The attorneys take turns in the presentation, with the Plaintiff’s attorney going first.
Each attorney gives an opening statement. It introduces the court to the facts of the case and their client’s position.
The Plaintiff’s attorney calls witnesses on behalf of their client. They will ask their witnesses questions regarding the case. Defendant’s attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine the witness.
After cross-examination, the Plaintiff’s attorney may redirect their witness. This means asking follow-up questions to rebut any adverse testimony given during cross-examination. This process continues until all of Plaintiff’s witnesses testify.
The steps then repeat with the Defense attorney calling witnesses. Plaintiff’s attorney conducts cross-examination, and the Defense attorney does rebut questioning.
Evidence is presented throughout the trial process where appropriate.
What state your case is being heard in will determine how many jurors are necessary for your case. In a civil trial in Ohio, eight jurors are required. In Kentucky, six jurors are required for a trial in district court, and twelve for a trial in circuit court.
The jury must observe the court proceedings. They may have notebooks for jotting notes regarding evidence or testimony to use during deliberations. They sequester to evaluate the case and make a determination based on the evidence presented and instructions of the judge.
When Do You Need a Trial Lawyer?
Even the best litigation attorneys have cases that do not settle and a trial is necessary. You do not want a litigation attorney to suddenly hand your case off to another attorney if it goes to trial.
When interviewing your civil lawsuit attorney inquire about their wiliness to take the matter to trial. Ask about their trial experience, how many cases they took to trial, and the outcome.
Now You Know the Answer to What Is a Trial Lawyer
Knowing the answer to “what is a trial lawyer” puts you in a better legal position. If you find yourself needing to file a lawsuit or being sued by someone else you now understand the difference between a litigation and trial lawyer. Taking a matter to trial requires time and extensive legal knowledge.
Knowledge is power! We invite you to search our other blogs for more information on a wide variety of topics, including other areas of law.