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Who Is A Civil Attorney? How Can They Help You?

3 October, 2023


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In the US, a civil attorney is a legal professional who specializes in civil law in the United States. These legal professionals are also called civil litigators and civil lawyers.

They may deal with matters regarding civil law. 

Now, What Is Civil Law?

Civil law is that branch of law that with all issues and disputes arising between individuals or organisations. It governs the rights of the parties “in personem”. 

  • Civil law does not involve any criminal offenses. Therefore, a civil attorney does not deal with criminal matters. Although some civil offenses may lead to criminal liabilities under US law.

What Is A Civil Litigation Attorney?

A civil attorney or a civil lawyer mainly focuses on clients having non-criminal disputes. They provide legal guidance, defend them in lawsuits, and also advocate for their civil rights. 

  • Have you heard of contract lawyers, divorce lawyers’ employment lawyers, or real estate lawyers? All of these legal professionals we just mentioned are civil lawyers with specializations in their relevant fields.
  • If you have ever hired a civil attorney, you know that they also specialize in alternate dispute resolution methods such as negotiation and mediation. 

A civil attorney will usually pay for monetary damages as a means of compensation for their client. This is why we see fines and compensation relief as a big part of civil matters.

These are some civil law terms that will help you while dealing with a civil lawyer.

1. A Plaintiff is a person who files a civil lawsuit. Their rights are hampered.

2. The Defendant is the person against whom the civil lawsuit is filed.

3. The plaintiff files the Complaint outlining their claims against the defendant in the civil lawsuit.

4. A Motion is a formal request to the court by one of the parties to the lawsuit seeking a specific ruling.

5. A Settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant to resolve the case before it heads to trial.

6. Damages mean the financial compensation that the plaintiff gets in a civil case as a form of compensation.  

7. An Injunction stops both parties from taking certain actions to prevent harm.

8. Statute of Limitations is the time limit after which you lose the right to file for a lawsuit. 

What Are The Qualifications Of A Civil Attorney?

To become a civil attorney and practice civil law in the United States, a person has to go through years of education and training. They will also need to appear for a number of examinations to get a legal license to practice.


All civil lawyers first complete their undergraduate degrees. They can get a bachelor’s degree in any field. The legal system of the US does not have preferences about undergraduate subjects. 

Aspiring students can choose pre-law, political science, or other relevant fields. A civil lawyer can choose to take political science as their undergrad subject.


The next step is to clear the Law School Admission Tests or LSATs. By applying for this test, a person can qualify for admission into a law school. LSAT is a standardized test that a person wanting to become a civil lawyer can take. 

These tests contain an assessment of their reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and critical thinking abilities. If you are too picky about your civil lawyer, try hiring one who has passed out of an Ivy League law school. That would signify that they have maintained a high LSAT score.

Juris Doctor

All civil attorneys should have a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school. If they are lacking a J.D., it means that they are not lawyers in the first place. In the United States, all law school programs end after three years. 

In these years, law school students study the basics of US law. After that, they gain practical experience through internships and practice under a senior attorney.

Bar Exams

Please check if your civil attorney has passed their bar exams. There have been plenty of cases where law school graduates have claimed to be lawyers.  However, after completing law school, all who wish to practice law must pass the bar examination. 

Each state has its own Bar exam. Please see to it that your civil lawyer has the license to practice in your state itself. The bar exam is crucial because it judges the person’s ability to apply the law to practical situations.

Member Of The Bar Association

If your civil lawyer is a member of the bar association, it means that they have passed the character and fitness evaluation. Each applicant goes through a detailed process of assessment of their moral character. If they pass, it means that they are fit to practice law. 

The assessment involves a thorough background check and a review of personal history.

A Civil Lawyer’s Licence To Practice

After passing the bar exam and going through a character and fitness evaluation, the person gets admission into the Bar Association of the USA. 

Now, they are licensed civil attorneys. In order to hold on to their license, they must go through “continuing education programs” every now and then and also keep complying with ethical standards.


When you are looking for a civil lawyer, you might have a varied range of civil issues. You must only choose a civil lawyer who has a specialization in the field you need help with. Areas of specialization under civil law can include personal injury, employment law, family law, real estate law, and much more.

Practical Experience

The next step in their professional careers is marked by practical experience. After getting their licenses, civil attorneys work in law firms, federal offices, legal aid departments, government agencies, and other corporate legal bodies. 

They may also choose to practice under senior civil lawyers.

Please ensure that the civil lawyer you are about to hire has kept up to date with new laws and regulations. Attorneys should take part in “continuing legal education” to keep working on skill improvement and hold on to their licenses.

Thus, any civil attorney in the United States has gone through education, training, and examination. They are fully equipped to handle civil legal matters.

What Role Does A Civil Lawyer Play?

Civil attorneys in the USA represent all legal citizens and organizations in non-criminal legal matters. Their role involves helping clients through varied civil disputes and legal issues. 

Let us look at some of the most important roles played by a civil attorney.

Client Consultation Like All Lawyers

Civil Lawyer first meets with their clients before they permanently hire their services. The clients have a one-on-one discussion with the lawyer and discuss their legal concerns and objectives. 

The initial discussion helps them assess the merits of the case.  

It is the duty of a civil lawyer to build a strong case for the plaintiffs. For this purpose, they conduct extensive legal research. First, they understand the relevant laws and regulations and then explain the plan of action to the clients. 

They also look into past rulings delivered by the court that apply to that situation.

They Conduct Assessments

A civil attorney looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s case. Based on that, they make informed decisions, like whether to go for a trial or to look for a settlement.

Civil Lawyers Can Negotiate On Your Behalf

Many civil cases can lead to negotiation before reaching the courtroom. This saves all parties time and money. It is the duty of a civil lawyer to engage in negotiations that are beneficial for their client. 

If you have hired a civil lawyer, it is their duty to reach favorable settlement terms.


Legal drafting is not just the responsibility of civil attorneys but for all. They prepare and review legal documents. If you have issues with your contracts, pleadings, motions, affidavits, and settlement agreements, you can get your civil lawyer to handle them for you.

They File Civil Lawsuits

When necessary, a civil lawyer will file lawsuits on your behalf. They will draft a complaint according to your claims and relief terms. It is up to a civil attorney to file it with the court of appropriate jurisdiction. They will arrange for communications with the other parties through legal notices.  

They Will Arrange For Evidence

Evidence to back up your claims will be arranged by your civil lawyer. If there is a need to request the opposite parties for an exchange of information, they will do it.

All necessary documents, evidence, depositions, interrogatories, document requests, and expert witness statements will be gathered by your civil lawyer.

Like all other lawyers, your Civil attorneys will also represent you in court proceedings. It is their duty to present arguments, question witnesses, and advocate for their interests to the court. 

They will keep you updated about hearings, trials, and other legal proceedings relevant to the case.

Civil attorneys in the USA deal with multiple types of civil legal cases. However, most of them do not involve criminal charges. These cases can deal with different branches of civil law. They can provide representation and advice to individuals, businesses, and organizations in these matters. 

Let us have a look at some of these matters up close. 

Personal Injury Is Their Forte

Have you ever sued someone for personal injury damages? You must have gone to a personal injury attorney for that purpose. They are civil lawyers who represent clients injured due to the negligence of another. 

Car accident attorneys, accident lawyers, slip and fall accident lawyers, medical malpractice lawyers, and product liability lawyers- They are all civil attorneys at the end of the day.

They Deal With Employment Disputes

Have you heard of Employment attorneys? They are legal professionals who handle workplace issues, wrongful termination disputes, workplace discrimination cases, sexual harassment cases, wage and hour disparities, and violations of labor laws. 

These employment lawyers are also civil lawyers. 

Family Law Attorneys Are Civil Lawyers

Family law attorneys are civil lawyers who handle every legal dispute that arises out of a domestic relationship. 

It can be divorce, child custody battles, visitation-related disputes, claims regarding child support, alimony, property division, and even domestic violence claims.

Civil Attorneys Handle Contract Disputes

Breaches of contract, enforcement of contract terms, and disputes related to the terms and conditions are handled by civil lawyers who specialize in contract law.

Real Estate Laws Are A Civil Issue

Real estate attorneys are actually civil lawyers who have specialized knowledge of property-related matters, real estate transactions, and tenancy laws.

Business Lawyer Is A Civil Lawyer    

Business attorneys look into cases of breach of fiduciary duty, disputes between shareholders, partnership-related problems, and corporate contracts.

Your Civil Lawyer Can Deal With Consumer Protection

If your consumer rights are hampered through fraudulent business practices or consumer fraud, a civil lawyer having a specialization in consumer law can help you out.

Estate Planning Lawyer

An Estate planning attorney is a civil lawyer who has experience in dealing with wills, trusts, and estate plans. Will contests, trusts, probate, living wills- all of it falls under the purview of a civil lawyer. 

And More

Apart from these, a civil lawyer can also deal with the following matters:

  • Intellectual Property disputes
  • Environmental Law issues
  • Civil Rights and Discrimination
  • Medical Malpractice issues
  • Bankruptcy, Liquidation, and Asset divisions.
  • Torts and Negligence

These are just a few examples of the types of matters that a civil handles. However, it can include far more types of issues. 

Finally, How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Civil Attorney?

According to various sources, the cost of hiring a civil attorney can vary from $100 to $400 on an hourly basis. If they are more experienced, then they charge more. The fee that they charge you also depends on the type of your case. 

More complicated cases obviously need more fees. Attorneys who majorly practice in small towns can charge around $100 to $200 per hour. 

However, civil lawyers practicing in metropolitan areas tend to charge upto $200 to $400 hourly.

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Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.

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