What Does a Civil Lawyer Do and Why You Might Need One

Civil lawyers are legal experts focusing on resolving conflicts between individuals or organizations.

They assist in filing or defending lawsuits and negotiating settlements.

Addressing various cases like personal injury, employment, family, business, immigration, real estate, and landlord-tenant matters, civil lawyers provide insights into their roles, assistance, and associated costs.

An image illustration of What Does a Civil Lawyer Do
Civil lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in resolving disputes between individuals, organizations, or both.

Difference between Civil Lawyers and Criminal Lawyers

Distinguishing themselves from criminal lawyers, civil lawyers are not involved in crimes and their consequences.

Criminal lawyers defend those accused of law-breaking, handling cases like theft, assault, or murder, while also representing victims of crimes such as domestic violence or sexual assault within the criminal justice system.

Conversely, civil lawyers operate in the civil justice system, where private individuals or entities are typically involved.

They aid clients in pursuing compensation, injunctions, or rights declarations, without addressing criminal charges or penalties unless the civil case is connected to a criminal matter, like a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Does a Civil Lawyer Do?

A civil lawyer may help their client through the beginning processes of filing a lawsuit and the litigation, potential court proceedings, and resolution.

They can also help determine whether a case needs to go before a judge or can be resolved outside of the courtroom through mediation, arbitration and negotiation.

Some of the tasks that a civil lawyer may perform include:

  • Conducting legal research and analysis
  • Drafting pleadings, motions, and other documents
  • Gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses
  • Negotiating with the opposing party or their lawyer
  • Representing the client in pretrial hearings, depositions, and trials
  • Advising the client on their legal rights and options
  • Appealing the case if necessary

A civil lawyer may also specialize in a specific area of civil law, such as personal injury law, employment law, family law, business and finance law, immigration law, real estate law, or landlord and tenant law.

Depending on the type of case, a civil lawyer may work with other professionals, such as experts, investigators, mediators, or arbitrators.

How Can a Civil Lawyer Help You?

A civil lawyer can help you in many ways, depending on your situation and goals.

Some of the benefits of hiring a civil lawyer include:

  • Protecting your interests and rights
  • Providing you with legal advice and guidance
  • Explaining the legal process and procedures
  • Preparing and filing the necessary paperwork
  • Communicating and negotiating with the other party
  • Presenting your case in the best possible light
  • Obtaining a favorable outcome or settlement

A civil lawyer can also help you avoid or minimize the risks and costs of litigation, such as losing the case, paying damages, or facing counterclaims.

A civil lawyer can also help you enforce the judgment or settlement, or challenge it if you are not satisfied.

How Much Does a Civil Lawyer Cost?

Civil lawyer fees hinge on factors like case complexity, lawyer experience, location, and fee structure. Common charging methods include:

  1. Hourly Rate: Lawyers charge per hour, varying by task. U.S. average is $250, ranging from $100 to $500+.
  2. Contingency Fee: Lawyers take a percentage (25-40%) of the recovery, only if the client wins.
  3. Flat Fee: Fixed amount for the entire case or specific tasks, ideal for routine cases.
  4. Retainer Fee: Upfront payment, deducting fees as the case progresses, suitable for long-term cases.

Discuss fees, secure a written agreement, and compare estimates before hiring a civil lawyer for transparency and informed decisions.


Civil lawyers are legal professionals who can help you resolve disputes between individuals, organizations, or both.

They can help you file a lawsuit, defend yourself from a lawsuit, or negotiate a settlement outside of court.

Civil lawyers can handle a wide range of cases, such as personal injury, employment, family, business, immigration, real estate, and landlord-tenant issues.

Civil lawyers can also help you protect your interests and rights, provide you with legal advice and guidance, explain the legal process and procedures, prepare and file the necessary paperwork, communicate and negotiate with the other party, present your case in the best possible light, and obtain a favorable outcome or settlement.

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