The Difference Between Litigation and Lawsuits

The terms used in the legal world can be confusing. This is especially true for people who are not involved in a law career. The words thrown around by attorneys or judges or those involved in legal battles may sound the same at times, and people often confuse one type of action with another. One of the most common misconceptions involves lawsuits and litigation. People sometimes think these two terms mean the same thing, but in reality, they are both very different.

A lawsuit occurs when a person, group, or business takes legal action to protect their rights. This begins with them going to court to file a lawsuit. There are many reasons someone may file a lawsuit in court, and it does not always mean that a person has committed a crime. For example, if a business had a standing contract that an employee not share inside information, but did anyways, the organization has a right to press a lawsuit against that worker. The lawsuit in that case would be to reinstate the employees silence about the secrets, or seek money to compensate their losses from the leak.

Litigation, on the other hand, is proceedings that begin before or after filing a lawsuit. In most scenarios, a person or organization will enlist a lawyer prior to filing a suit in court. Litigation starts when they hire legal representation. The lawyer will initiate the process by going over the case, getting information from their client, completing paperwork, and by filing the suit at a courthouse.

Litigation continues throughout the lawsuit, and sometimes after the lawsuit ends. As the case moves forward, the lawyer will continue the proceedings by speaking with the defendant’s attorney and planning the strategies for the suit. In many cases, the lawyer may be able to reach an arrangement with the defendant and their lawyer. This arrangement usually means settling the dispute before the lawsuit ever makes it to court. This saves both sides the financial burden of an ongoing court battle.

Should the lawsuit reach the courtroom, the lawyer will continue litigation until they win or lose the case. Once the court case has ended, the proceedings will likely continue. This is especially true when the losing side of the lawsuit continues to contest the accusations. However, if both sides can agree upon the outcome, the proceeding may soon end. Generally, both sides will continue to meet and make agreements several times over a period of weeks or months, during which time the litigation is still active.