Civil litigation is a legal dispute between two or more parties that seek money damages or specific performance rather than criminal sanctions. ”Civil litigation is a process for resolving public and private legal disputes on civil matters through negotiation or through the courts. In a civil litigation matter one party is attempting to right a wrong, force another to honor an agreement, or attempting to settle a dispute.
Civil litigation involves seven stages: investigation, pleadings, discovery, pre-trial, trial, settlement and appeal. Not every lawsuit passes through each stage, and not necessarily in the same order, of litigation; most lawsuits are settled prior to trial and many cases that reach a trial verdict are not appealed. A lawsuit can range from several months to several years, and complex civil litigation often takes years just to pass from investigation and discovery through trial. Discovery is the longest and most labor-intensive stage of civil litigation. Despite the main focus on courtrooms in television and movies, litigators spend little time in the courtroom, and most of their time is devoted to discovery and investigation.