A litigation firm is a law firm that tries cases in a court of law. A lawyer who works for a litigation firm is sometimes called a trial attorney. Working in a litigation firm entails more than just standing up in court — services also include the research needed to build a case, which can involve interviewing witnesses, gathering data, and reading through previous court cases to establish precedent. A litigation attorney will also counsel a client, determine the client's desired outcome for a trial, and work with the client on establishing a case.
There are many types of lawyers who do not need to offer litigation services. Among these are those who practice specialty law, such as patent attorneys, as well as those who work primarily as consultants for both individuals and major corporations. Some of these attorneys may retain the ability to be trial lawyers, while others may have little to no training in a court of law.
Litigation practices can vary greatly in size. Some practices consist only of one or two individual partners. Other firms may employ multiple lawyers, including junior and senior partners, as well as paralegals, law clerks, and administrative staff. The size of a law practice is not always indicative of the amount of cases it can take on, as large firms are sometimes embroiled in complicated cases that require most of their resources and force them to limit their client intake.
Sometimes, a major law firm will need to offer both general services and a litigation branch. This is usually the case for law firms that represent large companies. Maintaining general law services and a litigation firm enables these types of practices to reduce competition for law contracts.
Companies in certain industries, such as the healthcare and manufacturing industries, may opt to maintain litigation services within their own companies. In such a case, a traditional litigation firm may not be formed. Instead, the company would simply offer positions to licensed trial lawyers. This is usually seen as a cost-saving measure when a company is battling hundreds of cases at any given time.
On occasion, a litigation firm will only handle specific types of cases. For example, one firm can specialize in large class-action lawsuits against drug makers while another firm mostly handles class-action cases against online businesses or financial services. Specializing in one area can help a litigation practice maximize its existing research resources.