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Many rising 2Ls are familiar with the basics of litigation practice, as the foundation of the traditional law school 1L curriculum.  Litigation practice in BigLaw includes a large variety of activity, including legal research and memos regarding case law on specific questions, organizing and performing “doc review” (reviewing large sets of information in connection with the case), writing briefs and motions, counseling clients on potential litigation risk and strategy, and, in some cases, trial-related activity such as depositions, witness preparation and examination, and oral arguments.

One common misconception of litigation practice is that attorneys are in court every day arguing cases.  In fact, very few cases actually reach trial, and litigation practice at large firms takes place almost all “behind the scenes,” through research, review, strategizing, brief writing, and settlement negotiation.  For junior and mid-level associates, the opportunity to take depositions, argue motions, or perform oral argument, can be difficult to come by depending on the firm, given the few cases that reach that stage and the high-profile nature of cases.  (Many litigation associates use pro bono litigation matters to avail themselves of these opportunities.)

The category of litigation includes several sub-specialties, including general commercial litigation, trial litigation, appellate litigation, IP litigation, international arbitration, securities litigation, antitrust litigation, and white-collar investigations/criminal defense.  Each of these sub-specialties carries with it its own specific nuances and attorneys typically focus on a specific sub-specialty.

Litigation work can be an attractive option for attorneys interested in focused reading and writing, crafting arguments, thinking creatively, and becoming a master in various discrete areas of law – whatever issues become relevant in the case!  As compared to traditional corporate practice, where deals can span only a few weeks or months from start to finish, large litigation matters can span years through various stages.

Featuring Williams & Connolly, Willkie, Wilson Sonsini, Goodwin, and Fenwick

Watch our interesting and fun panel discussion about the different types of litigation work at BigLaw firms and how to determine if litigation is the right practice for you.


-Eden Schiffman, Williams & Connolly
-Moe Fodeman, Wilson Sonsini
-Allen Wang, Fenwick
-Alexandra Valenti, Goodwin
-Wes Powell, Willkie


Summer Associate Hub’s video series, where we interview BigLaw attorneys about their practice in under 6 minutes (also known as 0.1 billable hours).

Laura Hernandez

Associate, Internet Strategies Group

Wilson Sonsini

Dina Kolker

Litigation Partner, Stroock

Jeff Liu

Litigation Associate, Gibson Dunn

Check out these short and helpful videos from Hotshot, a video-based learning platform used by top law firms and law schools.

These videos are a great way to get an overview of Litigation practice, to determine if this practice area is right for you, and to prepare for networking calls and interviews.

These links will direct you to Hotshot’s website, where you can sign up for a free trial and access to 3 free courses. To watch more, use promo code “SAHub” to get 30% off Hotshot’s student rate (which brings the cost down to just $6 per month). Use your .edu email address to sign up, and if your school already subscribes to Hotshot you’ll automatically be added to its account!

Civil Litigation Practice

What do civil litigators do? This course explains the typical roles in a civil litigation group at a law firm, including partners, counsel, associates, and paralegals, and also describes the role of the client.

The Phases of Civil Litigation

This course explains the life cycle of a civil litigation case, from filing the complaint to conducting discovery to judgment and appeals.

Document Review and Production

An overview of how to conduct a document review, including an explanation of the various purposes and goals and how a review might be structured. Also includes an introduction to producing documents and drafting production cover letters.

10 Tips for Doc Review

Practical tips for lawyers new to conducting a document review. Includes tips on how to add value, organizing and escalating documents, and managing mistakes.


Check out these episodes from the How I Lawyer Podcast, a series by Georgetown Law professor Jonah Perlin.  

Jonah talks to attorneys throughout the professions about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it well.

This podcast series is a great way to learn directly from attorneys about what the day-to-day work is like in different practice areas. 

Michelle Kallen, Jenner & Block
Former Virginia Solicitor General

In this episode, Jonah Perlin speaks with Michelle Kallen, Partner at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C. about her career path in appellate litigation, and her experience as the Solicitor General for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Nick Boyle, Latham

In this episode, Jonah Perlin speaks with Nick Boyle, a litigation partner at Latham & Watkin’s Washington D.C. Office. He was formerly a litigator at Williams & Connolly for almost twenty years, and originally hails from Scotland.

Helam Gebremariam, Cravath

In this episode, Jonah Perlin speaks with Helam Gebremariam, a Litigation Partner at Cravath, Swain, & Moore in New York City, where her practice focuses on antitrust litigation, contractual disputes, securities and shareholder derivative suits.

John B. Quinn, Quinn Emanuel

In this episode, Jonah Perlin speaks with John B. Quinn, who is one of the world’s top trial lawyers and the founder of the Quinn Emanuel law firm. Bloomberg has described John as one of the “most famous practicing lawyers in the world.”

Brian Farkas, ArentFox Schiff

In this episode, Jonah Perlin speaks with Brian Farkas, Associate at ArentFox Schiff in New York City, where he handles complex commercial disputes in federal and state courts as well as in arbitrations and mediation proceedings.

Sara Razi, Simpson Thacher

In this episode, Jonah Perlin speaks with Sara Y. Razi, the Global Co-Chair of the Antitrust and Trade Regulation Practice at Simpson Thacher in the. She joined the firm's Washington D.C. office in 2013 after serving as a senior official at the Federal Trade Commission for nearly a decade.

Evan Rothstein, Arnold & Porter

In this episode, Jonah Perlin speaks with Evan Rothstein, an intellectual property and trade secrets litigation attorney in Arnold & Porter’s Denver Office, with a specialization in Web3-related matters. Evan maintains both an active trial practice as well as providing strategic advice.


Check out these interactive exercises brought to you by Praktio, a modern training platform for reviewing and drafting legal documents.  Use these exercises to practice these tasks, make mistakes, and learn from them!

Praktio has teamed up with Summer Associate Hub to make these exercises available to law students for free – these links will direct you to Praktio’s platform, where you may be required to create a free account. 

These courses are a great way for law students to get a glimpse of litigation practice.  We selected these exercises as only some of the key tasks on which litigation associates work (and, of course, this practice involves many other types of exercises).

Organize Better Briefs

Improve the organization of briefs using stronger themes, headings, and topic sentences.

This course is a collaboration between Praktio and Ready to File Writing and teaches how to improve the structure and organization of briefs, using better themes, headings, and topic sentences.