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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.
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).
Associate, Internet Strategies Group
Litigation Partner, Stroock
Litigation Associate, Gibson Dunn
Check out these short and helpful videos from Hotshot Legal, a video-based learning platform used by top law firms.
These videos are a great way to gain an overview of litigation practice, to determine if this practice area is right for you and to prepare for networking calls and interviews.
Hotshot provides content free for law students – these links will direct you to Hotshot’s website, where you may be required to create a free account.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.