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Civil Law

Civil law deals with dispute resolution. This covers a broad range of specific areas, and civil lawyers (a.k.a. litigants) generally specialize in one or two practices. A civil defense attorney can be found in the courtroom representing a defendant in a medical malpractice suit and the next day they might deal with a dispute concerning environmental law.

Think of it this way: Many centuries ago, you might have witnessed two champions, each selected by someone involved in a dispute, fighting each other. The champion who won the fight essentially won the dispute for the person who hired them. These champions, assuming they survived, might have gone on to work for another person who had an entirely different dispute to settle.

Today’s litigants act in a very similar capacity, but without the literal bloodshed and the clanging of weapons on shields. Note that civil law concerns matters which do not include criminal charges like murder, armed theft, arson, and so on. That’s the realm of the criminal lawyer.

Before you start calling and sending out emails, it is best to try and understand exactly what a civil law attorney does in their job.

Civil lawyers represent clients in lawsuits as opposed to criminal trials. In general, one lawyer won’t practice both civil and criminal law. A victim has to hire their own civil lawyer, which means you’re not entitled to a lawyer provided by the court in a civil case.

If litigation concerns money at stake, you want a civil lawyer. You won’t go to jail if you lose a civil suit, so stick with a litigant. (Talking of which, a civil lawyer can represent either defendants or plaintiffs.)

You may have heard the term “insurance defense lawyer.” This refers to an attorney who specializes in representing defendants in civil cases regarding insurance claims. They are often hired by insurance companies to represent a business or individual who has been sued on a claim covered by an insurance policy.