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What is a Commercial Litigation Attorney?

Daphne Mallory
Daphne Mallory

A commercial litigation attorney is needed to resolve disputes arising from business transactions and relationships. These attorneys are litigation attorneys who specialize in commercial litigation law, which is a subset of business law. Most attorneys are hired after an event, such as a breach of contract or when a disagreement occurs among shareholders or business parties. A growing area of practice is collections, where a commercial litigation attorney may be hired to file a legal action to attach assets or garnish wages as part of the collections process. These professionals represent plaintiffs and defendants in legal actions and rarely handle transactional work for clients, such as incorporating businesses or filing trademark registrations.

The legal matters that commercial litigation attorneys handle run the gamut. They represent clients in lawsuits that range from breach of contract disputes to complex commercial real estate disputes. Attorneys who practice commercial litigation law do not often represent clients in legal matters that do not fall within the scope of business law, such as immigration issues related to working visas. If the attorney cannot handle a matter, he or she will refer clients to a specialist outside of the firm if there is no attorney or practice group who specializes in that area of law in the firm.

Legal library.
Legal library.

An effective commercial litigation attorney is often one who is an experienced trial lawyer. Many cases are settled before the completion of a trial if both sides can find common ground. The ones who continue to trial are often won by the more experienced attorney, in addition to the case with the best merits and supporting facts. The ongoing routine of preparing for cases, arguing them, and appealing them when necessary is what most commercial litigation attorneys do on a daily basis. In return, they often charge substantial hourly fees, contingency fees, or flat rates depending on the case and the law firm’s overall fee structure.

There are occasions when a commercial litigation attorney will represent plaintiffs or defendants in legal malpractice lawsuits. A malpractice lawsuit requires the plaintiff to show that the attorney representing her or him was negligent in providing legal counsel and services. To win the case, the plaintiff must also show that she or he suffered an injury as a result. Demonstrating injury is not enough, as the plaintiff has the final hurdle of proving that she or he would have won the case otherwise. Legal malpractice claims fall within the scope of commercial litigation, because the attorney being sued offers legal services to clients, and that is a business.

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      By: Steven Pepple
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