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What does the Plaintiff's Attorney do?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 30, 2024
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The plaintiff's attorney represents the plaintiff, a person suing for damages, in a civil case. The responsibilities of the job include developing a case, collecting evidence, securing witnesses who will testify on behalf of the plaintiff, and working with the defendant's attorney in the event of an offer to settle the case out of court. Fees vary, depending on the case and the billing structure at the attorney's firm. Some plaintiff's attorneys work for a percentage of the payout, while others may bill by the hour for their representation.

When clients seek out an attorney to provide representation, they have a number of resources to use including bar listings, recommendations from friends, and lawyer review services. In many regions, there are restrictions on advertising for attorneys and a plaintiff's attorney may not be able to actively solicit clients. Getting work in this field requires developing a reputation as a good attorney who provides strong, useful representation.

As soon as a client approaches an attorney and the two enter a professional relationship, the attorney will gather as much information as possible about the case to start developing a strategy for court. The plaintiff's attorney will also file paperwork in court to initiate the suit. The strategy can include everything from providing pictures of the damages that will shock the jury to calling in expert witnesses who will demonstrate the defendant's negligence.

During trial preparation, the plaintiff's attorney may travel to meet with people, take depositions, and collect evidence. If a settlement is offered, the attorney will review the terms and provide advice, in addition to sitting in on all settlement meetings to discuss options and advocate for the client. If the case proceeds to court, the attorney will provide representation in court, pressing the case with the goal of proving the defendant's wrongdoing and obtaining damages.

Attorneys who work in civil courts usually focus on either representing plaintiffs or defendants, because they require different types of strategies. Sometimes an attorney may alternate, working with plaintiffs in some situations and defendants in others. It is advisable to select an attorney with experience in similar kinds of cases and a proven record as a plaintiff's attorney when looking for a lawyer to represent a suit in court. For defendants, attorneys with experience as a defendant's attorney are needed. Often, such attorneys will be provided by an insurance company or employer, depending on the nature of the suit.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon331845 — On Apr 25, 2013

Can a public defender defend the plaintiff? I thought that a public defender is only appointed to a person who committed the crime, not the person who is accusing the defendant by the courts?

Can a lawyer defend friends and family too? Please get back to me with some answers.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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