A lawyer is a general term used to describe someone who has been trained and licensed to practice law. Lawyers can provide a wide range of legal services, including drafting documents, providing legal advice and representation to clients. Litigators, on the other hand, are a specific type of lawyer who focus on the courtroom and trial work.
Essentially, a litigator is a type of lawyer who specializes in handling lawsuits and going to court to represent clients in disputes. They are also known as trial lawyers, litigation lawyers or barristers in the UK. Litigators are responsible for representing clients in civil or criminal trials, as well as in other legal proceedings such as arbitrations, mediations, and administrative hearings. They are usually involved in the entire litigation process, from the initial investigation, to pre-litigation negotiations, to drafting and filing legal documents, to arguing in court and reaching settlements.
To put simply: Litigators are responsible for handling a case from the initial filing of a lawsuit through to the final trial or settlement. They are the ones who present evidence and argue in court on behalf of their clients. They also handle pre-trial motions, negotiate with opposing counsel, and handle appeals. Litigators typically work on civil cases, such as personal injury, employment discrimination, and contract disputes.
On the other hand, a lawyer (or typically referred as an attorney in the US) is a general term that can refer to any professional who is trained and licensed to practice law. Lawyers can work in many different areas of law, such as criminal law, family law, immigration law, and corporate law, and may not necessarily specialize in litigation. Some lawyers may work as in-house counsel for a company, advising the company on legal matters and representing the company in negotiations, while others may work in non-profit organizations or government agencies.
A lawyer who is not a litigator, is often referred to as a transactional lawyer or a solicitor. They focus on helping clients to avoid disputes and resolve legal issues through negotiation and documentation rather than going to court. Transactional lawyers typically handle matters such as legal advice, business advisory services from the legal perspective, drafting legal documents and reviewing the same, conducting mergers and acquisitions, real estate transactions and prepare wills and other legal documents. To conclude, transactional lawyers do not participate in court proceedings, unlike litigators.
Litigators, on the other hand, have to be skilled in trial advocacy, which includes understanding evidence and procedural rules, developing a trial strategy, and presenting a case in a clear and persuasive way. They also need to be able to think on their feet and improvise when necessary. In contrast, transactional lawyers mainly focus on understanding the law and serve client's for the more standardized needs, whereas litigators are more familiar with the case law if something is to go in front of the Judge
In summary, while all litigators are lawyers, not all lawyers are litigators. Litigators specialize in courtroom and trial work, while transactional lawyers focus on non-contentious legal matters. Litigators need to be skilled in trial advocacy, while transactional lawyers usually focus and have an infrastructure to serve non-contentious client needs on more cost-effective or standardized basis.