Located in Guntersville, Huntsville, and Arab, Alabama, The Hawkins Law Firm engages in litigation in all of our major practice areas, including contested divorces in family law litigation, probate litigation, and business litigation. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions we encounter in our litigation practice. If you have other questions or require professional advice and representation in a particular matter, please contact The Hawkins Law Firm.
Q. What is the procedure for litigation?
A. There are many different types of litigation, as noted above. In the case of general civil litigation, the process is initiated with the filing of a complaint with the trial court, followed by the filing of an answer by the other party, who may also file counterclaims at this time. Once these pleadings and any relevant motions have been filed, such as motions for change of venue, the discovery phase begins. This process involves the gathering of evidence from the other side in preparation of the case, usually in the form of depositions, interrogatories (written questions), requests for admissions, and requests for the production of documents. Other pre-trial motions may be made after discovery, such as motions for dismissal or summary judgment.
Once the trial phase begins, the trial itself may last for only a few days, or a couple of weeks for a highly complex case. During trial, evidence in the forms of documents, exhibits, and live testimony are presented to the judge or jury. Each side has an opportunity to present its case in chief and to rebut and cross-examine the other side’s position. Following the judgment, either party may move for a new trial or file an appeal, if it has grounds to do so and has properly preserved its appellate rights. Other post-judgment proceedings may include actions to enforce, execute, or stay the judgment.
Q. Don’t most cases settle without a trial?
A. In business litigation, as in other areas of civil litigation, most cases do settle rather than go to judgment. However, this settlement may not happen until the eve of trial or even after trial has begun. In any dispute, it is always wise to prepare for litigation. Trial preparation itself often spurs the parties toward a settlement. While we are always prepared to settle, we are always prepared to litigate as well. We never rush into a settlement or advocate a settlement that is not in our client’s best interests.
Q. What is the client’s role in the litigation?
A. As the client, you will make the ultimate decisions in the case. It will be up to you to decide whether to accept or reject a settlement or make a settlement offer, or to proceed to trial. As the client, it is also important that you provide your attorney with all the information necessary to provide the best representation. Just as you want your lawyer to keep you informed of the status of your case, keep your lawyer informed of any changes in status or new information that you become aware of throughout the litigation.
Q. What alternatives are there to litigation?
A. Negotiation, mediation and arbitration are the most common forms of alternative dispute resolution. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages over a formal litigation of the dispute. Knowing which approach is most likely to yield a positive outcome for the client is part of our job as legal counselors and litigators. Contact our office to discuss your legal dispute and the most promising means for an effective, successful resolution.