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What is the difference between a litigator and a trial lawyer?


Litigators are lawyers who handle a lawsuit from initiation (the filing of a complaint) until trial.  Most commercial litigators have little experience with trial itself, because the vast majority of cases settle before trial.  Trial lawyers have the experience and skills to handle all stages of a lawsuit, especially trial.


All trial lawyers are litigators, but very few litigators are trial lawyers.  Trial lawyers are those rare lawyers with the skillset to conduct jury trials.  Trial lawyers know how to pick a jury, cross-examine witnesses, and present closing arguments (expertise which many litigators lack because they seldom go to trial). 


During a lawsuit, there is one key purpose behind all of the litigation that occurs prior to trial.  That purpose is to prepare your case for trial.  Litigators who have minimal trial experience cannot prepare your case as effectively or as efficiently for trial, because they lack familiarity with the strategies and tactics of trial.  Trial lawyers have a deeper understanding of what evidence matters, because they know how the ultimate contest is fought at trial.  Trial lawyers can also narrow their focus – and your legal fees – to the critical issues and evidence needed to win at trial.


Why do you need a trial lawyer?  In short, because trial lawyers will do a much better job of preparing your case during each stage of litigation, and they have the trial skills necessary to capitalize on this preparation at trial.  That is how we do it at Phillips Lex.  We are a trial law firm. 

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