A Crash Course in Litigation: Looking Inside Civil Cases
Litigation is not exactly a contact sport, but it isn't always "civil" either. In fact, winning the litigation game is a lot like winning in football. Solid preparation, aggressive execution of the game plan, speed, and the ability to think on your feet are the keys to victory in both sports.
Like football, judges serve as referees, making sure the rules of the game are followed. Yet, unlike football, most cases are decided by spectators sitting in box seats. The jury is the ultimate scorekeeper. There are deadlines, but the buzzer takes much more than 60 minutes to sound. The challenges of increasingly complex litigation in congested court systems don't let us resolve cases in an hour. Depending on where suit is filed, cases may take as little as three months or as long as two years -- that is, before one endures postponements which are common to the litigation process.
Not all cases get to trial and even those that do will not necessarily end with the jury's verdict. Beyond pretrial and post-trial motions, an appeal may add months or years to the litigation clock.
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