Litigation is the legal procedure for settling disputes. A typical litigation would involve a plaintiff or the complainant, a defendant or the respondent, and a legal issue that is disputed by the two parties. The term "litigation" is synonymously used to refer to tort cases, although this is not always the case. Almost all areas of the law, such as divorce, custody, intellectual property, and employment, can lead to litigation. There are also areas of law that cannot lead to litigation, such as estate planning.
Litigation is crucial to the development of the law and the legal system as litigation brings to light new issues. These issues can lead to a change in current legislation or legal procedure or the enactment of new ones. A trial is not litigation. It is only a part of litigation. Litigation often do not end up with a trial. In fact, expert attorneys know that trial should be avoided at all costs as they are lengthy and expensive.
Litigation is a long process that starts the instance two parties cannot agree on a law. As soon as controversy arises, it is crucial to employ the counsel of an expert attorney, ideally of the area of law disagreed upon by the parties, so that the parties are appropriately advised. The bulk of litigation law is procedural, and legal procedure varies greatly from state to state. Each state has its own civil rules of procedure that lays down the requirements that parties to a litigation must comply with. Aside from the variation of civil rules of procedure in each state, certain cases also require additional or different procedures to be followed.
Litigation is a lot of work, if not done by an expert. A lawsuit is not the first option for parties in disagreement. A lawsuit may even be the last resort for disagreeing parties. In order to avoid suits, one of the parties, especially the aggrieved one, would send a letter demanding that the other party perform certain acts to avoid legal action. In foreclosure cases, the bank or the lender sends a letter to the borrower demanding that the borrower pay the unpaid principal and/or interest before the bank files a suit seeking foreclosure of the mortgage. Lawsuits are expensive for both parties so they to avoid it. A carefully-crafted demand letter that conveys well the issues and the remedies can avoid the filing of a suit.
If a dispute cannot be resolved through the demand letter, then the aggrieved party's resort would be to file a suit. Lawsuits are subject to different set of rules, and all the steps of a lawsuit has accompanying rules. The foremost rule that a filing party must take note of is the statute of limitations for filing suits. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, and for each type of claim or suit. A delay of one day can cause the dismissal of a claim or suit. Once a suit or a claim has been timely filed, the plaintiff must take note of the rules of evidence, which, just like all other rules accompanying litigation, vary from state to state. Discovery comprises the bulk of litigation, and it is in this stage that professional help is needed as this is the stage where arguments are built upon. Following discovery, either or both of the parties can file a motion for summary judgment. If a court grants a defendant's summary judgment motion, then the case will not proceed to trial, which means the plaintiff loses the case. If the case moves to trial, that is another area that will be needing not just an expert attorney but also an expert litigator.