The Role of a Civil Litigation Attorney

Posted On December 20, 2016 by Murphy Law Group in Civil Litigation

Civil litigation attorney Dan Murphy of the Murphy Law Group describes what civil litigation is like and attorney does during and before trial to help their client get the best outcome. What can a civil litigation attorney do for you?

John: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dan Murphy of the Murphy Law Group in North Andover and Boston, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about civil litigation. Welcome Dan.

Dan: Hey John, thanks for having me.

John: Sure. Dan, tell me a little about civil litigation. What is that?

Dan: John, broadly defined civil litigation is basically any type of litigation matter that is not a criminal matter. Criminal matters are separate than civil litigation but civil litigation is a broad term that encompasses all types of cases ranging from business disputes to individual, personal injury disputes as an example.

John: What are some of the most common types of civil litigation matters that you see?

Dan: Well from an individual’s perspective, anytime an individual is harmed, it may bring in the possibility of a civil litigation. Whether it’d be a harm suffered by a trip and fall, by an automobile accident, or by a breach of contract–that will all be encompassed within civil litigation.

John: As a civil litigation attorney, what’s your approach to handling those types of cases?

Dan: Well, you’re always looking to find the best outcome for your client. Which means that at the outset of a case when you’re brought into a case, whether it’d be because your client has been sued or because your client has been damaged in some way, to do a complete evaluation of the case early on. It’s important to evaluate the case, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a case, and evaluate what needs to be done in order to completely understand your client’s standing in the case, whether it’d be continued investigation or whether it’d be a dialog with the other side.

It’s important that the outset of the case to do as much as you can so that you can counsel your client as to what they can expect in the potential litigation.

John: What kind of steps do you take when you’re doing an investigation in looking into the case for the first time? What are the steps that you take?

Dan: For example for the breach of contract claim, if someone’s claiming that your client had in some way breached their obligations under a contract, you would want to see exactly what the allegation is to what the breach is, you’d want to see what evidence the other side has to date to show the breach. You’d want to talk to your client about the allegation as to what their defense is, or potential defenses are. You’d want to evaluate what the possible damages would be.

John: What’s the next step after you’ve done the investigation?

Dan: Again, depending upon whether or not you’re on the defense side or on the plaintiff side. If you’re on the plaintiff side as an example and it’s a personal injury matter: you’ve looked, and your client was injured by a trip and fall. You’d want to look and you’d want to see where the trip and fall occurred. You’d want to take pictures of it. You’d want to make sure that you did what was necessary to preserve what might be necessary down the road, to show that there was negligence on the part of the defendant. That will be all be important to establish causation.

Then beyond causation, you would want to be able to show that there’s a nexus between the causation and the injury suffered by your client. You’d have to make sure that you did what was necessary to preserve whatever medical evidence is out there, medical records, so forth and so on. You’d encourage your client to take whatever steps is necessary to get better, and to take care of their own health. That would be the outset of a personal injury case as an example.

On the business side, if I use the example of your client being charged with a breach–if for example your client has been damaged because someone else has breached the contract, you would want again gather all of the evidence that you had in order to support that. You’d want to put together probably at the outset a demand letter that would be sent to the other side outlining your case and making an aggressive demand on behalf of your client.

John: At what point should an attorney be hired after a dispute between two parties becomes apparent?

Dan: As early as possible. The longer you wait, chances are the more that you’re opening yourself to exposure. You want to minimize exposure. You want to make sure you hire an attorney who’s looking to minimize your exposure on the defense side. On the plaintiff side, you’re looking at someone who is going to want to maximize your recovery. The earlier you bring someone on, the better chances that they’re going to do the kinds of things that I discussed in terms of preserving the evidence and mounting the things that will be necessary ultimately to prove your case.

John: What do you think that the role of a civil litigation attorney is during the case and what the most benefit is that somebody gets by having an attorney?

Dan: The best attorneys that I have been against have been attorneys who have worked diligently to find an outcome for their client, to maximize the outcome for their client. That’s the absolute truth. I would rather have an attorney on the other side who is a good attorney, who’s working to maximize the benefit to their client, than to have somebody who really isn’t paying attention to what’s going on. If you get two good attorneys in the case, who do the proper evaluation of a case and looked toward resolution in a most efficient way for their clients, you’re going to find a way to resolve a case.

What’s most important there are two things. One, for the attorney to completely evaluate the case, be on top of the case. Two, to have a real line of communications open with the client, so that the client understands everything that’s going on. The client understands when the attorney makes a recommendation as to resolution of a case because they feel as though they found some good leverage to use, to reach that resolution that the client is on board with that.

They’re not looking just to fight the fight, because looking to fight the fight is going to do nothing other than cost a lot of money down the road. The longer you go into a litigation, the more difficult it is to resolve litigation.

John: All right. That’s really great information Dan. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dan: Thank you John.

John: For more information, visit the firm’s website at or call 978-686-3200.