Phillips Lex acts as trial counsel in the United States for foreign clients, often at the instruction of their foreign counsel.
In the US, the legal profession is not expressly divided into barristers and solicitors, as is the case in the UK or Australia, for example. However, when it comes to litigation, there is a de facto distinction between litigators and trial lawyers. All trial lawyers are litigators, but very few litigators are also trial lawyers with trial skills.
Typically, litigators are lawyers who handle the various stages of pretrial litigation, from initiation of a lawsuit up until trial. Most commercial litigators have little experience with trial itself, because very few cases reach trial – the overwhelming majority settle before trial.
Trial lawyers are those rare lawyers who have the experience and skills to conduct jury trials. Trial lawyers know how to pick a jury, cross-examine witnesses, and present closing arguments (skills which many litigators lack simply because they seldom go to trial). Similar to barristers in the UK and Australia, trial lawyers know how to captivate juries and “work” the courtroom. However, one of the key differences is that the function of trial lawyers in the US is in no way limited solely to trying cases before judges or juries. On the contrary, trial lawyers are well able to conduct all phases of pretrial litigation and they do so routinely. Moreover, trial lawyers are far better equipped to litigate through the pretrial stages than their litigator counterparts, because they know how the ultimate contest is fought at trial. Trial lawyers have a deeper understanding of what evidence matters. They can narrow their focus – and the legal budget – to the critical issues and evidence needed to win at trial.
In the US, the key purpose of litigation prior to trial is singular: to prepare a case for trial. Litigators who have minimal trial experience cannot prepare a case for trial as effectively or as efficiently as trial lawyers, because litigators lack familiarity with the strategies and tactics of trial. Trial lawyers thus have many advantages over their litigator counterparts during pretrial litigation.
Trial lawyers avoid unnecessary work (e.g., document discovery and motion practice) and legal fees on issues that are unimportant for trial;
Trial lawyers won’t make arguments during the pretrial stages that compromise the trial position;
Trial lawyers know what information needs to be collected for trial;
Trial lawyers know what questions to ask in depositions and interrogatories to get the information needed for trial;
When trial comes, trial lawyers will have prepared their cases better, and will have the skills to capitalize on their preparation.
In the US, clients who hire trial lawyers also have a better chance of attaining a desirable pretrial settlement. When you hire a trial lawyer, this sends a strong message to your adversary that you are willing and able to fight to the end – even if it means trial. Your adversary is now forced to approach settlement negotiations very seriously, knowing that any unreasonableness will simply lead to trial.
Phillips Lex is a trial law firm. We serve as trial counsel in the US to foreign law firms and their clients. In this regard, Phillips Lex functions in a similar way to barristers in the UK and Australia. However, we have the ability to litigate cases in California from inception though trial without the need for assistance from another US firm. Consequently, Phillips Lex can perform as sole US counsel on California cases.