One of the most important qualifications recommending a trial lawyer is for the attorney to be ready, willing, and able to go to trial if a case cannot be settled prior to trial. Trials are like plays; they have to be prepared for in advance. A good lawyer knows this, and carefully plots out the order in which the evidence and witnesses will be introduced, the anticipated cross-examination of the opposition’s witnesses, and more. The preparation for a trial starts at the beginning of a case, and continues as discovery is obtained from the opposition.

Justice's scales, illustrating a website about collections services in New York State.

Civil cases begin with a summons and complaint. The defendant then files an answer to the complaint, either an affirmative defense or an affirmative defense and counterclaims. Once the plaintiff’s attorney receives a response from the defendant or the defendant’s attorney, the discovery process can begin. The discovery process consists of the exchange of information. In a civil case, the courts encourage very liberal discovery phases, so that there are few surprises at trial. As soon as the discovery process begins, the attorney is helping you to prepare for trial. Attorneys can collect documents, evidence, or conduct oral depositions to help you prepare to present your case.

Sometimes a deposition will reflect contradictions from the formal answer, as to quality of services, products purchased, conversations that may have resulted in oral agreements, and more. A good attorney will be able to catch these discrepancies and use them to their advantage in front of a judge or jury.