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Lawyer vs. Litigator: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 26, 2023
A lawyer is a professional licensed to practice law; a litigator is a lawyer specializing in lawsuits and courtroom proceedings.

Key Differences

A lawyer is a broad term for anyone who practices law, offering advice, and representing clients in legal matters. A litigator, specifically, is a type of lawyer who specializes in litigation, the process of taking legal action in court.
Lawyers can specialize in various fields such as corporate law, intellectual property, or family law. Litigators, however, focus on the courtroom, requiring skills in trial advocacy, negotiation, and legal strategy specifically suited for litigation.
A lawyer's role encompasses advising clients, drafting legal documents, and may involve out-of-court settlements. Litigators are lawyers who actively represent clients in court, engage in trials, and handle the entire lawsuit process.
While all litigators are lawyers, not all lawyers are litigators. Lawyers might work in areas that rarely involve courtroom appearances, whereas litigators are regularly involved in trials and court hearings.
All lawyers receive general legal training, but litigators often have additional training or experience in trial law and courtroom procedures.

Comparison Chart


A professional licensed to practice law
A lawyer specializing in lawsuits


Various legal fields
Specifically in courtroom litigation

Primary Role

Legal advice, document preparation
Representing clients in court

Courtroom Involvement

May or may not involve court appearances
Regular involvement in trials

Skills Required

Broad legal knowledge
Expertise in trial advocacy, negotiation

Lawyer and Litigator Definitions


Lawyers can specialize in various areas such as criminal law, corporate law, or family law.
As a corporate lawyer, she negotiates contracts and handles business legal matters.


A litigator is a lawyer who specializes in taking legal disputes to court, representing plaintiffs or defendants.
The litigator skillfully argued the case before the judge, seeking justice for his client.


Lawyers are responsible for interpreting laws, advocating for clients, and preparing legal documents.
The lawyer drafted a will that clearly outlined the client's wishes.


Litigators handle the entire process of a lawsuit from investigation to trial and even appeals.
The litigator spent weeks preparing for the trial, gathering evidence and witness statements.


Lawyers must pass a bar examination in their jurisdiction to practice law.
After passing the bar exam, she became a licensed lawyer and started her practice.


A litigator must have strong skills in oral advocacy, negotiation, and understanding of legal procedures.
Her reputation as an astute litigator was built on her ability to negotiate favorable settlements.


A lawyer is a professional who advises and represents individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes.
The lawyer provided expert legal advice to the company during the merger.


Litigators play a crucial role in shaping case law through their involvement in precedent-setting cases.
The litigator's victory in court set a new legal precedent for future cases.


Lawyers can act as both advocates and advisors in their representation of clients.
The lawyer successfully defended his client in court, proving his innocence.


Litigators often specialize in specific areas like personal injury, employment, or commercial litigation.
As a commercial litigator, he deals with disputes between businesses over contracts and agreements.


One whose profession is to give legal advice and assistance to clients and represent them in court or in other legal matters.


To prosecute or defend (a lawsuit or legal action); pursue (a legal case).


A professional person with a graduate law degree that qualifies for legal work (such as Juris Doctor)


To bring a lawsuit or defend against a lawsuit in court.


A person employed to litigate, a lawyer skilled in arguing in court.


One who litigates.


(law) a party to a lawsuit; someone involved in litigation;
Plaintiffs and defendants are both litigants


What does a litigator do?

A litigator specializes in representing clients in court, handling lawsuits from start to finish.

What training do litigators have?

Litigators have specialized training in trial advocacy and courtroom procedures, beyond general legal education.

Can a lawyer specialize in non-litigation fields?

Yes, lawyers can specialize in fields like tax law, estate planning, or corporate law, which may not involve litigation.

What skills are essential for a lawyer?

Essential skills include legal knowledge, analytical thinking, and communication abilities.

What makes a good litigator?

Good litigators possess excellent oral advocacy, negotiation skills, and a deep understanding of litigation strategy.

Is litigation more challenging than other legal fields?

Litigation can be more adversarial and demanding, requiring specific skills and temperament.

What is a lawyer?

A lawyer is a legal professional qualified to advise and represent clients in legal matters.

Can all lawyers practice litigation?

While all lawyers are legally qualified, not all have the specialization or experience to practice as litigators.

Do lawyers always go to court?

No, many lawyers handle legal matters that do not involve court appearances.

Do all litigators work on criminal cases?

No, litigators can work on civil matters like personal injury, family law, or commercial disputes, not just criminal cases.

Is the income of a litigator different from other lawyers?

Income can vary based on factors like specialization, experience, and the complexity of cases handled.

Are all lawyers versed in trial work?

Not all lawyers have experience in trial work; this is a specific skill set of litigators.

Are litigators involved in out-of-court settlements?

Yes, litigators often negotiate settlements before a case goes to trial.

Can a lawyer represent clients in any court?

Lawyers must be admitted to the bar in the jurisdiction of the court to represent clients there.

What kind of legal issues do litigators handle?

Litigators handle disputes that require resolution through the legal system, such as lawsuits and arbitrations.

Do litigators only work in law firms?

Litigators can work in law firms, government agencies, or corporations, or even be self-employed.

What is the main focus of a lawyer's work?

The main focus is providing legal advice, preparing legal documents, and representing clients in legal matters.

How do litigators prepare for a case?

Litigators prepare by investigating facts, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and developing legal strategies.

How do lawyers and litigators differ in their daily tasks?

Lawyers may focus on legal research and document drafting, while litigators are more engaged in trial preparation and court appearances.

Can a lawyer switch to litigation?

Yes, with additional training and experience, a lawyer can transition to a litigation specialty.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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