December 3, 2022

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Is a Trial Lawyer the Same as a Litigator?

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Not all attorneys are trial lawyers. Don’t let the courtroom TV dramas fool you: Lawyers who spend a significant amount of time in trial actually represent a rather small percentage of the legal profession as a whole.

Choosing the right attorney is vital to the success of your case. You need to understand the difference between a trial lawyer and a litigator, and what these terms mean as they pertain to your particular situation.

Patrick Daniel is a trial lawyer who handles high-stakes litigation in a number of complex legal matters. Call (713) 999-6666 today for a FREE case review to learn how Patrick Daniel Law can help with your case.

Litigator vs. Trial Lawyer

Trial lawyers differ from litigators in several key respects. Before examining the difference, however, it is important to understand how a personal injury case usually progresses.

Litigation

Litigation is the process of building a legal claim. It involves a number of different steps, including:

  • Investigating the incident that gave rise to the claim (such as a car accident)
  • Determining potential legal remedies based on the facts
  • Gathering and analyzing evidence
  • Contacting and consulting expert witnesses
  • Quantifying the client’s damages
  • Drafting a demand letter and submitting it to the at-fault party’s insurance company
  • Negotiating a settlement

Many people assume that litigation consists of filing a lawsuit. Although filing suit may be a necessary part of the litigation process, it is often possible to resolve a personal injury case without needing to sue the other party.

Ultimately, litigators and trial lawyers alike will act in the best interests of their clients. However, attorneys who focus on litigation tend to prioritize settling the case rather than going to trial.

Trial

A trial is often the culmination of a case that could not be resolved by litigation alone. Once a lawsuit is filed, the parties could still resolve the matter through settlement negotiations or alternative dispute resolution (such as mediation or arbitration). However, if these efforts are unsuccessful, trying the case in court may be the only option.

Pre-trial motions and discovery (the process where both sides request and exchange documents and other information before trial) may be handled by litigators or trial lawyers. However, it is essential for an attorney with courtroom experience (i.e., a trial lawyer) to handle the trial itself.

Trial lawyers are well-versed in all aspects of trials, including:

  • Selecting jurors (if applicable)
  • Making an opening statement
  • Calling and questioning witnesses
  • Laying the foundation for and introducing evidence
  • Objecting to questions and evidence presented by opposing counsel
  • Cross examination of defense witnesses
  • Making a closing argument

Ultimately, the goal of a trial lawyer is to persuade the trier of fact (which consists of either a judge or a jury) to find in favor of their client. For a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer, this would result in the court awarding financial compensation to the injured victim.

How Many Lawyers Are Trial Lawyers?

It is important to note that litigation and trial law practice are not mutually exclusive. Some attorneys handle all aspects of the case, from investigation and preparation to trying the case in court. However, statistics show that lawyers who specialize in taking cases to trial make up a relatively small portion of legal professionals.

Career website Zippia surveyed the profiles of millions of working professionals to determine the demographics of trial lawyers. According to this survey, approximately 6,784 trial lawyers are working in the United States.

Statistics from the American Bar Association show that there are 1.3 million lawyers practicing in the United States. Based on these statistics, only 0.52% of attorneys are trial lawyers.

These data reflect the specialized nature of trial law. Attorneys who dedicate their professional practice to representing clients in court have skills and experience that many others lawyers do not typically possess.

Types of Trial Lawyers

Both civil and criminal matters may end up going to trial. In the context of personal injury law, hiring a trial lawyer may be beneficial in cases involving:

Multiple issues may result in an injury claim going to trial. These include the severity of your injuries, liability disputes, the amount of damages you are seeking, and more.

How Will I Know If My Case Will Go to Trial?

The initial consultation with an attorney is your opportunity to learn what to expect from your case. You should ask how long the lawyer believes your case will take, as well as what the process will likely involve (including whether it will be necessary to file a lawsuit and the lawyer’s opinion on whether the case will go to trial).

Read More: Will My Case Go to Trial?

Choosing a Trial Lawyer

If you talk to an attorney who believes your case might go to trial, it is imperative to confirm that the lawyer you ultimately hire has the knowledge, experience, resources, and results to take your case to court if necessary. This may involve meeting with multiple lawyers, as well as conducting your own research to find the right choice.

Questions you should ask of a potential trial lawyer include:

  • How often do you take cases to trial?
  • Do you often handle cases like mine?
  • If the case goes to trial, do you think we have a good chance of winning?
  • How many cases have you won at trial?

You should also independently verify the lawyer’s reputation through client reviews. Recognition and awards from organizations like Martindale-Hubbell, The National Trial Lawyers, and others can help you get a sense of the lawyer’s reputation and standing in the legal community.

Contact a Trial Lawyer Today

Attorney Patrick Daniel is a leading trial lawyer. He has been recognized by a number of elite legal organizations including:

  • American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America)
  • National Trial Lawyers
  • American Institute of Trial Lawyers
  • American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys
  • Texas Trial Lawyers Association
  • Houston Trial Lawyers Association

Patrick Daniel has also been named to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators, an invitation-only organization that recognizes “the most qualified and accomplished professionals” in multiple fields of litigation. He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum; membership is limited to attorneys who have resolved cases resulting in compensation of $1 million or more.

At Patrick Daniel Law, we are Strategic, Meticulous, and Merciless. Each of these qualities enables us to effectively prepare cases for trial, represent clients in court, and pursue maximum compensation on their behalf.

Contact Patrick Daniel Law today for a FREE consultation. Our trial lawyer handles personal injury claims for clients throughout Houston, all of Texas, and nationwide in select circumstances.