What is a litigator?
This question, or slight modifications thereof, appears regularly in referer logs for this site. I had always thought that the term "litigator" was self-explanatory, but apparently some people want an answer to this question. So here goes.
A litigator is an attorney who specializes in litigation, most often civil litigation. A litigator is a trial lawyer -- a phrase which applies, contrary to popular belief, to one who represents defendants (the people or companies who are sued) as well as to one who represents plaintiffs (people or companies who file lawsuits) in court.
Civil cases are claims that are filed in court by one or more persons against one or more persons, usually for recovery of money damages. (Under the law, a corporation is regarded as a fictitious "person".) Many civil cases involve personal injuries of one form or another -- familiar examples are auto accidents, slip and fall claims, medical malpractice claims, product liability claims, and construction accidents. Others involve other relationships, such as claims arising from contracts between companies, defamation claims, and patent infringement claims. They may involve only a few hundred dollars, or they may involve billions of dollars.
A litigator is a lawyer who goes to court. In that sense, criminal lawyers, prosecution and defense alike, may be considered "litigators", but the term is usually used to refer to lawyers who try civil cases. And though divorce cases are sometimes taken to trial, and are heard on the civil side of the docket, divorce lawyers are not usually referred to as "litigators".
A litigator is one who has developed the skill and the experience to argue points of law before a judge and issues of fact before a jury and do both persuasively. He knows the rules of evidence and the principles of common sense and knows where each properly apply.
A litigator is a champion, in the medieval sense of the word: the lawyer who will take your place in the contest before the bench, and who will exert his skills and his strength on your behalf.
What is a defense lawyer? The defense lawyer is the man or woman who will do all of these things to protect you against the person who has sued you, in the process making about 30-80% less than the opponent's lawyer in doing so, then return home to read published invective about "the trial lawyers" and the harm they are doing to America.
A note to all individuals and businesses, all companies selling products in this country, all doctors, accountants, architects, all persons engaging in activity of any kind -- be thankful that you will have trial lawyers working on your behalf when you are sued.