DC Civil Litigation Lawyer

Civil disputes can be incredibly difficult to resolve whether you are a plaintiff or defendant, and especially if you have little to no prior experience with these types of cases. Seeking professional assistance with these matters could help you resolve your case quickly while effectively pursuing your desired outcome.

Whether you require assistance dealing with a breach of contract matter, business litigation, or another civil dispute, a DC civil litigation lawyer could provide the knowledge and vigilant advocacy needed to pursue a favorable outcome. Speak with an attorney today to discover what determined representation could do for your case.

Types of Civil Litigation Cases

The civil litigation process allows a person or business to hold another party or parties legally liable for wrongdoing by pursuing financial or equitable damages. There are numerous types of civil litigation cases which may require the assistance of a skilled DC attorney. Common examples of civil litigation matters include:

  • Property disputes
  • Contract disputes
  • Corporate/Business litigation
  • Insurance litigation
  • Construction disputes
  • Shareholder or Partnership disputes
  • Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure Agreements
  • Dissolution or Partnership Wind-up
  • Landlord/tenant disputes
  • Intellectual property and trademark disputes

Overview of the DC Civil Litigation Process

It is important to understand that the exact litigation process may vary depending on the nature of the individual’s case. However, the civil litigation process goes through the same general main stages, which legal counsel could go over in further detail during an initial consultation.

Opening Investigation

If the client is the plaintiff in the case, the first thing their local civil litigation attorney would do is investigate their claim to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to initiate a lawsuit. In the event the client is being sued, the attorney would instead exhaust all available strategies to form the most vigorous defense possible. Sometimes, it may even be possible to bring a counterclaim against the suing party or entity.

Pleadings Phase

Once the opening investigation is completed, the next stage is the pleadings phase. Pleadings are the legal documents that establish the facts of the dispute as well as the parties involved in it. Examples of pleadings include the complaint, answer, counterclaim, third-party complaint, or crossclaim.

In order to initiate a lawsuit during this stage, a plaintiff must secure a summons from the Court and then prepare and file a complaint. In order to contest a lawsuit filed against them, a defendant must formally answer the plaintiff’s complaint or otherwise move to dismiss it, or else they risk having a default judgment entered against them in favor of the other party.

Discovery Phase

The next phase is discovery, during which the attorneys for each party conduct an extensive investigation for evidence and review documents from both sides. During the discovery phase, pertinent documents may be requested, depositions taken, and other vital information, such as expert witness opinions, is exchanged between the parties.

Pre-Trial Stage

Once discovery has ended, the pre-trial stage commences. At this point, both attorneys engage in a pre-trial conference with the judge, and the parties refine their positions in anticipation of a trial, identifying all the evidence and witnesses they intend to use to help them win the case.

During this stage in the civil litigation process, a qualified lawyer in DC could present motions and ask the court to reach a decision on discrete issues of law or facts that may affect the outcome of the case. For example, a motion for summary judgement could ask the judge to dismiss the case outright or make certain legal rulings based on undisputed facts, or motions may attempt to exclude certain evidence from trial.

At this stage, it may also be possible to pursue an out-of-court settlement in order to avoid the length and expense of a trial. In the District of Columbia, the court orders the parties to attend mediation at the close of discovery and before trial. In the event is not possible to reach a settlement, the case may continue to trial.


Trial proceedings often start with preliminary motions, which address evidentiary issues and with jury selection, followed by opening statements from each party’s attorney. A local civil litigation attorney would present the theory of the case and the full range of evidence, including documents and witnesses, before the court.

Once both sides have presented their case before the court, each attorney enters their closing arguments, and the judge issues jury instructions. Finally, if it is a jury trial, the jury deliberates on the matter before entering a binding final verdict. If not, the judge issues his or her ruling from the bench, and that ruling is entered into the record.

Entering an Appeal

When a final verdict is entered, it naturally follows that one party may be unsatisfied with the judgement or with how the court managed the case or ruled on a particular motion or matter. If so, that party may appeal the civil ruling to a higher appellate court. It is crucial that any party who wishes to file an appeal retain qualified legal representation to handle each phase of this complex process, as there are critical timelines and procedures that must be followed if an appeal is going to be properly docketed.

Resolving Civil Cases Outside of Court

At any point during the civil litigation process, the involved parties can elect to settle their dispute out of court, officially ending the case as soon as an agreement is made. Depending on various factors, including who the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) are and the nature of their dispute, various approaches to the out-of-court settlement process may be appropriate.

Ideally, both parties to a civil dispute are interested in an equitable outcome and willing to work together in good faith to achieve such a result, in which case a few rounds of private negotiations with guidance from legal counsel may be enough to set everything straight. In many cases, it helps to bring in a third-party mediator to make sure private discussions stay on track and that both parties’ best interests are given due respect throughout the process.

In more adversarial situations, as well as in some circumstances mandated by the terms of a contract, two parties may undergo arbitration, which entails a neutral arbitrator essentially serving the same role a judge would in court to make a binding decision on a civil matter. Finally, a settlement conference between all parties involved, their legal counsel, and the judge overseeing their case could potentially resolve a dispute before the civil litigation process progresses all the way to trial.

Seeking Damages or Equitable Remedies

Depending on the type of civil litigation case filed, both equitable and legal damages may be available. Equitable remedies may be awarded when the court grants relief in the form of an injunction, which is an order obliging the other party to cease an action or to take a particular action.

On the other hand, economic damages may involve some form of monetary compensation when the claimant has incurred financial losses. A seasoned civil litigation attorney in DC could help an individual understand what types of damages may apply in their particular situation and how to structure the case to obtain maximum recovery or minimize damages entirely depending on the case.

What Role Does Legal Counsel Play?

Whether a case concludes in or out of court, skilled legal representation can serve as an essential resource every step of the way. Laws and regulations governing civil matters, especially those pertaining to contracts, fiduciary duties, and business litigation, can be almost impossible for an untrained layperson to interpret by themselves, let alone leverage in a way that serves their best interests.

Even before a case formally starts, a knowledgeable civil litigation lawyer in the District could provide a fair and honest appraisal of whether a plaintiff has valid grounds to file suit, or what kinds of options a defendant has for contesting such a lawsuit. Once litigation is underway, professional assistance is vital when it comes to tracking down key evidence and testimony, presenting motions to the court, and working to achieve a favorable final resolution.

Discuss Your Case with a DC Civil Litigation Attorney

Even though there are no criminal consequences like jail time involved, the financial, professional, and personal implications of civil litigation can be life-altering no matter which side of the case you are on. In order to pursue an optimal outcome, you should consider retaining assistance from a legal professional who has handled situations like yours successfully before.

If you have grounds for a civil case, or if someone is pursuing a legal action against you, it is vital to speak with a DC civil litigation lawyer as soon as possible. Call today to discuss your potential case and find out more about your legal options.