what is a litigation lawyer?

As a litigation lawyer, you represent the defendant or plaintiff in a civil matter. You follow the litigation process to get your client the desired outcome. When you represent the plaintiff (the injured party), you prove that the defendant's action caused harm and warrants compensation or settlement. Sometimes, you settle cases outside court or in mediation or arbitration, where cases for both sides are heard before a neutral party.

Litigation covers many legal areas, including commercial laws, where you represent businesses in civil suits, and family and public laws. Regardless of the area of law, your focus is on dispute resolution through court proceedings or a settlement. Court procedures are complex and strict, so it is important to understand the procedures for filing proceedings in different courts.

As a litigation lawyer, you are skilled in handling court cases. In a court-based dispute, you investigate the dispute to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case. After reviewing your case, you prepare the initial pleadings (the claim that initiates a lawsuit). If you represent the defendant, you prepare a written answer to the claim. With your research and investigative skills, you can find loopholes in the case from the discovery documents. You also require negotiation skills to negotiate a good settlement offer.

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average litigation lawyer salary

The average salary of a litigation lawyer in Australia is $118,000 per year. When you work in an entry-level position, you start with a salary of $100,000 annually. With experience and additional qualifications, you will likely earn a remuneration package of $152,500 annually.

how to increase your salary as a litigation lawyer

As a litigation lawyer, your earnings fluctuate based on experience and educational qualifications. When new to the role, you start with a lower salary due to minimal experience. In entry-level positions, you also handle less complex cases that attract a small settlement, which lowers your remuneration expectation. With extensive experience, you can take on class-action cases and represent large organisations on civil matters. Since a percentage of the settlement usually goes to legal fees, the value of the settlement improves your remuneration.

Your area of expertise also influences your earnings. For instance, representing clients in corporate or commercial law attracts higher remuneration due to the complexity of the cases. Working on personal injury litigation reduces your earning expectations due to the low settlement amounts.

The location also affects your remuneration package. When you work in metro areas, you earn a higher salary compared to litigation lawyers in smaller cities. The high demand for litigation lawyers in metro areas improves your salary expectations.

Want to know what you will earn as a litigation lawyer? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of litigation lawyers

Litigation lawyers can specialise in different areas of law. In business litigation, you handle legal disputes that occur within businesses, such as disputes with vendors, shareholders or business partners. You also handle issues like breach of contract, debt collection, unfair competition and trademark infringement claims.

In personal injury litigation, you represent plaintiffs and help them get a claim for injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s actions. You represent the plaintiff during settlement to ensure they receive financial compensation to cover medical bills and replace lost wages.

In civil litigation, you cover any form of litigation that involves monetary compensation. These cases include financial disputes with landlords, medical malpractice cases, unfair dismissal and personal injury.

male and female talking in the office
male and female talking in the office

working as a litigation lawyer

Are you curious about what litigation lawyers do daily? Here are the typical duties, responsibilities and work environments of litigation lawyers.


education and skills

If you are considering a career as a litigation lawyer, the first step is to gain a law degree. To pursue a Bachelor of Laws in Australia, you should attain an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 90 or higher. If you don’t meet the requirements to obtain a law degree, pursue another undergraduate degree and get a Juris Doctor degree, which takes around two years.

After completing your bachelor’s degree, complete a graduate diploma in legal practice or Practical Legal Training (PLT) to be admitted into your state bar. The training takes three months of full-time study or eight months of part-time study. Apply for admission to practise law in your state and start your supervised legal practice, which takes 18 to 24 months. When you finish supervised training, take the bar exams to be admitted to the Australian Bar Association.

litigation lawyer skills and competencies

Some of the skills and qualities of litigation lawyers include:

  • research skills: as a litigation lawyer, you rely on extensive research skills to prepare for court cases. Your research skills help you investigate cases and identify gaps that could benefit your client's defence.
  • communication skills: as a litigation lawyer, you require good communication skills to communicate clearly with clients and other lawyers. Effective communication is also essential for making strong arguments in the courtroom.
  • attention to detail: as a litigation lawyer, you leverage the evidence you have to win a favourable settlement for your clients. Your attentiveness to details helps you identify discrepancies in the documents or evidence presented.
  • negotiation skills: when a dispute is settled out of court, you rely on your negotiation skills to get the best settlement. With strong negotiation skills, you are able to negotiate better terms and financial compensation for your client.

FAQs about working as a litigation lawyer

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a litigation lawyer.

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