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The Legal Process

Hiring a Lawyer

There are several reasons to retain legal representation. A lawyer has specialized skills and expertise to help you get something done or solve a problem that involves the law. Lawyers both understand the law and how to work within the legal system to assist their clients.
The last two decades has seen many changes in the practice of law. Today, alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration and mediation are part of the legal process. Fewer civil cases come to trial. However, a lawyer must be prepared for trial in case the opposing party is unreasonable and/or will not settle the case for full value. Legal skills have always included knowledge of the law, but more and more the best lawyers possess strong negotiation and tactical skills.

In discussion with a potential lawyer, you should be asked to provide very detailed information regarding your matter. This factual information is critical to the lawyer and will be combined with legal analysis, previous experience and good judgment to assess the degree of legal risk in your potential case. Potential outcomes and next steps are discussed and any decision to retain a lawyer can be made based on a great deal of valuable analysis.


A good lawyer must be a good negotiator to protect the clients’ interests and to maximize any outcome. If a dispute can be resolved through negotiation, each party must make some concessions in order to arrive at a settlement. When the resulting agreement is finalized and signed, all parties know the terms under which they will go forward; bringing closure to the matters in dispute.


When a legal dispute cannot be resolved through negotiations, it is sometimes necessary to take the dispute to court. Civil litigation arises out of claims that a person or business has committed a wrong and it is the legal process that we think of when the word "lawsuit" is used. The civil litigation process is controlled by federal or state court rules. Only a small percentage of lawsuits actually go to trial.

Litigation begins by filing a Complaint (Pleading) in court; the filing party being the Plaintiff. The other party (Defendant) gets notice (Service) of the complaint and an opportunity to Answer, Cross-Claim, Counter-Claim or file a Motion. The foundation of every case is the Complaint and the Answer. It is critical that the Complaint and Answer contain facts and solid legal elements in order to be successful.

There is generally a limited time for the parties to discover (Discovery) what the other one intends to present as evidence at trial. Discovery can include written Interrogatories, Admissions, and Request for Production of Documents. Depositions are also part of Discovery and consist of sworn testimony by Plaintiffs and Defendants as to the facts of the lawsuit. In some cases Expert Witnesses are identified and deposed.
At any time, Motions can be filed. A Motion is a formal request of the court to rule on matters such as compelling either a Plaintiff or Defendant to adequately answer Discovery or to extend time to answer Discovery. A pretrial Motion called a Motion for Summary Judgment is filed when the court is asked to rule that there is not sufficient factual or legal basis for a trial.

In North Carolina, Mediation is mandatory in most civil litigation. The goal of Mediation is to settle the dispute prior to trial. Ultimately, a valid lawsuit that does not settle will go to trial. Pretrial conferences are then held to organize how the trial will proceed.

Trial and Verdict

The trial is the time for both sides to present their arguments and facts to the judge and/or jury. The parties can call witnesses for questioning, cross-examine the opposing party's witnesses and introduce exhibits. The attorneys will make opening statements and closing arguments. After these statements, arguments and the presentation of evidence, the case will be sent to the judge or jury for a verdict.


If the losing party believes that the final judgment was made in error, the losing party can appeal . This is a costly and time-consuming process as most appellate courts set their own schedules and time-tables to rule on verdicts being appealed to them.


Litigation can be frustrating, time consuming and expensive. If you have a legal dispute or if you have been injured, you may need an attorney. If you have lost a case and want to appeal, you need an experienced appellate lawyer. Choose a law firm with experience, knowledge and resourcefulness: Taibi Law Group, PLLC.