General litigation is a legal dispute between two or more parties that seek money damages or specific performance rather than criminal sanctions. A lawyer who specializes in general litigation is known as a “litigator” or “trial lawyer.” Lawyers who practice general litigation represent parties in trials, hearings, arbitrations and mediations before administrative agencies, foreign tribunals and federal, state and local courts.
2. Types of General Litigation
General litigation encompasses a broad range of disputes. Civil litigators generally specialize in one or two specific practice areas. Several common types of civil litigation include:
Environmental Law, Landlord/Tenant, Products Liability, Personal Injury, Intellectual Property, Construction, Medical Malpractice, Employment & Labor, Real Estate, Anti-Trust, Worker’s Compensation, Education Law, etc.
3. Litigation Lifecycle
Civil litigation can be divided into seven stages: investigation, pleadings, discovery, pre-trial, trial, settlement and appeal. Not every lawsuit passes through each stage of litigation; most lawsuits are settled prior to trial and many cases that reach a trial verdict are not appealed.
The lifespan of a lawsuit can range from several months to several years. Complex civil litigation often takes years to pass from pre-suit investigation through trial/settlement.