How Litigation Attorneys In Chicago Can Help You Win Your Case

Elder Law ChicagoIf you’re facing a lawsuit, either as a plaintiff or a defendant, you might not be sure whether you actually need litigation attorneys in Chicago to help. Many people read a few pages on the Internet and feel as if they’re fully qualified to handle anything that’s thrown their way in court. However, they soon find that they need the assistance of litigation attorneys in Chicago, leaving them scrambling to find one that can appear in court right away. Here are just a few of the many reasons that you should hire litigation attorneys in Chicago if you’re facing a lawsuit.

Litigation Attorneys In Chicago Are Familiar With Paperwork And Deadlines

Sometimes you need to file a specific document within a very small time frame. If you forget to file this paperwork or file it late, you could have a problem with your case. Litigation attorneys in Chicago, on the other hand, are well-versed in deadlines and the types of legal documents that are required to handle your case. It is possible to do a simple Internet search and find legal forms; however, in many cases these forms are specific to a certain state. This means that a form that’s valid in California might not be admissible in Illinois. When litigation attorneys in Chicago are in charge of your case, you won’t have to worry about it being dismissed simply because you used the wrong state’s form.  Additionally, they often have the assistance of a legal secretary or paralegal, which means you’ll have more than one person looking out for your needs.

Paralegals And Litigation Attorneys In Chicago Are Quite Different

Some people hire a paralegal, after being assured that the paralegal can handle everything litigation attorneys in Chicago do. However, while many paralegals are competent enough to help with your case, a licensed attorney always supervises them. Paralegals go through a shorter technical training, while a lawyer completes seven years of schooling in order to know how to handle specific legal situations. Additionally, because paralegals haven’t been admitted to the bar, they are unable to appear in court on your behalf. Both paralegals and litigation attorneys in Chicago can have a place in your case, but a paralegal isn’t a substitute for qualified legal advice.

Litigation Attorneys In Chicago Can Have Relationships With Local Judges And Other Lawyers

While judges do have to be impartial when they’re in charge of a case, it doesn’t hurt when your litigation attorneys in Chicago have an existing relationship with them. Knowing a little about your judge can help your attorney know if they should request a different judge or it can help change your case’s strategy. Additionally, when lawyers have a relationship with each other, they may be able to anticipate any moves by the opposing counsel, which can help your team come up with a strategy that works.

If you’re interested in finding litigation attorneys in Chicago who will work diligently to protect your interests, please contact Peck Ritchey at (312) 201-0900.

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Peck Ritchey Attorneys Named Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars

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Chicago litigation lawyers Timothy J. Ritchey and Brandon E. Peck have been named to the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list as two of the top attorneys for 2014 in Illinois Estate and Trust Litigation. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in the state receive this honor. This selection for this respected list is made by the research team at Super Lawyers.

The Rising Stars lists are published in Super Lawyers magazine and Chicago Magazine.

Chicago litigation lawyer Tim Ritchey concentrates his practice in the areas of estate and guardianship administration, probate and trust litigation, real estate litigation, fiduciary defense litigation and elder law and estate planning and administration. Tim is involved in many professional and charitable organizations, including the Young Professionals Board for the Center of Disability and Elder Law, ISBA, CBA, and DuPage County Bar Association.

Brandon Peck is a Chicago litigation attorney with Peck Ritchey, LLC. He concentrates his practice on guardianship litigation and administration, trust litigation, probate Litigation, fiduciary defense litigation, elder law and estate administration, with an emphasis on contested trusts and estates. Brandon is a contributing author to the book Alzheimer’s and the Law. He currently serves as a director of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, previously serving as co-chair of the YLS Estate Planning Committee. Brandon has been a member of the Junior Board for the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter since its inception and currently serves on the Executive Committee as chair of Education and Advocacy.

Peck Ritchey, LLC is a leading boutique law firm providing representation in all areas of elder law including probate litigation, guardianship litigation, trust litigation, administration of estates and trusts, elder law, asset protection, corporate law, tax law, special needs planning, and estate planning in Chicago.

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Do You Need A Chicago Litigation Attorney? Questions To Ask Before You Hire A Firm

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If you’re like most people, you probably do a lot of research before making any major purchases or hiring a contractor to do work in your home. After all, when you’re spending a lot of money or putting your trust in a service provider or contractor, you want to make sure that you’re making the right decision. The same is true if you need to hire a Chicago litigation attorney. Your entire case rests on your attorney’s skill and experience, which is why it’s important to do a lot of research to make sure you’re hiring the right person. If you need to hire a Chicago litigation attorney, here are a few questions to ask so you can be sure that you’re making the right decision.

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: What Percentage Of Cases Do You Settle?

Sometimes your goal is to settle your case without actually going to trial. Settling beforehand can save you a lot of time and hassle and it can still provide you with a positive outcome. If you’re hoping to settle with the other party, talk to your Chicago litigation attorney about how many cases they settle versus how many they take to court. Let them know your ultimate goal so that your attorneys can proceed with the case just as you’d prefer.

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: What’s The Payment Structure?

Your attorneys will need to be paid, but how this happens depends on the firm and the type of case. Some attorneys will take a case on a contingency basis, which means that they won’t be paid unless your side wins or settles. Others will ask for a retainer and then will use this to pay for expenses related to your case. Pursuing a legal case does cost money — there are expenses for experts, testing and a number of other things — so it’s important to know how the expenses and payments will be handled

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: What’s The Attorney’s Track Record?

Ask how many cases the attorney has won, whether in court or through settlement. Obviously, if you’re going through the hassle of filing a suit against someone else or if you’ve had someone file a suit against you, you want to win! While a Chicago litigation attorney can’t guarantee a win, he or she should have a good track record to showcase his or her skills.

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: Who Will You Call With Questions?

Your Chicago litigation attorney won’t be the only one working on your case. He or she will likely have a team to help so it’s important to know who you can contact with any questions or concerns regarding your case. In many cases, you’ll be able to speak with a paralegal or legal secretary, but what happens if you have a question only your attorney can answer? It’s important to understand who will answer it for you.

Finding the right Chicago litigation attorney is important to your case — its success or failure depends on it. Use these questions as a starting off point so that you can find the perfect attorney for your case.

To learn more about Peck Ritchey, LLC and the services the firm can provide, please visit our practice areas page.

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Looking For A Litigation Attorney In Chicago? What You Need To Know About Attorney-Client Privilege

litigation lawyers ChicagoIf you’ve every watched a legal drama on television or on the big screen, you probably think you understand what attorney-client privilege means. But do you? If you’re searching for a litigation attorney in Chicago, it’s vital that you understand what attorney-client privilege means for your case.

Do You Need To Hire Litigation Attorney In Chicago For Privilege To Count?

Some people think that they need to have actually hired a litigation attorney in Chicago for the privilege to count. However, this isn’t necessarily true. If you’re interviewing multiple attorneys to find the best one for your case, you’re likely going to have to talk about sensitive details of the case. After all, litigation attorneys in Chicago can’t give you a true idea of what you’re expecting if they don’t know all the important details. Potential clients can speak freely with a potential lawyer, as long as they’re considering hiring that attorney for their case.

This means that even if you don’t hire a specific litigation attorney in Chicago, they are bound to keep your case details confidential. It’s unethical for the lawyer to then work for the other side. If you interview five attorneys and then choose one for your case, the other four are prohibited from working with the other side.

Is It Just A Litigation Attorney In Chicago Who’s Bound By Privilege?

Privilege doesn’t just extend to the litigation attorney in Chicago. Legal secretaries and other employees of the law firm or people who have contracted to work with the lawyer are also bound by privilege. This helps ensure that everyone familiar with the case can speak freely and share ideas and strategies without worrying about compromising the case.

Limitations Of Privilege

While privilege is an important part of the lawyer-client relationship, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t limitations. If the case is discussed before people who are not the client or the attorney, this information isn’t considered privileged. Additionally, if the client is talking about committing a crime or committing fraud, the attorney is bound to report the action to the authorities. Clients can also waive privilege by talking about the case in public.

What Happens If A Litigation Attorney In Chicago Discloses Privileged Information?

A lawyer who discloses privileged information could find him or herself in a great deal of trouble by their state bar association. Lawyers can be reprimanded, suspended or even disbarred for revealing information that was privileged. This extends even after the case is over or if the client has transferred the case to another attorney. This means that an attorney cannot be forced to testify against a former client.

If you have questions regarding attorney-client privilege and the relationship between a client and a litigation attorney in Chicago, please contact us. We’re happy to take a look at your specific case and let you know whether a litigation attorney in Chicago can help.

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The Characteristics Of A Qualified Elder Care Litigation Attorney In Chicago

litigation lawyers ChicagoA litigation attorney in Chicago who practices in the field of elder law has a unique set of circumstances to navigate. While knowledge about the laws relating to guardianship, trusts, estates and a host of other applicable fields is obviously paramount, elder law attorneys must also possess a full understanding of the physical and mental challenges that aging individuals face. In order to best serve the needs of their clients, the attorneys at Peck Ritchey, LLC exhibit all of the following qualities, which are necessary to ensure the best possible representation.

Knowledge In A Variety Of Fields

The breadth of responsibility for an elder care litigation attorney in Chicago is far-reaching and extremely varied. Just some of the areas in which representation by a litigator may be necessary include:

  • Estate Matters
  • Trusts
  • Guardianships
  • Fiduciary Matters
  • Disputed Accountings
  • Recovery of Assets
  • Heirship Disputes

Top lawyers in the field, like those at Peck Ritchey, strive to stay informed on changing regulations, trends, and applicable precedents that may affect their clients. When seeking an elder care litigation attorney in Chicago, it’s important to look for someone with extensive knowledge in all aspects of the law that may affect your case. Guardianship issues, for example, can involve asset dispersal or have fiduciary ramifications. A qualified attorney needs to have the necessary knowledge base to be able to make timely and astute recommendations.

A Wealth Of Experience

Of similar importance is ensuring that the law firm you choose to represent you in elder care matters has the necessary experience in the specific type of law your case will require. If a given case requires litigation, it’s of vital importance that the attorney have a track record of success in working with cases similar to yours. Some firms maintain a general focus, while others may specialize in a particular area of elder law. A well-qualified firm will employ lawyers with a wide range of skill sets and experience to ensure that they are equipped to handle cases of every type.

The Responsibilities Of A Litigation Attorney In Chicago

Working with Peck Ritchey litigators means having the peace of mind that your case is being handled with the upmost professionalism and skill. A litigation attorney in Chicago must be prepared to navigate each step of the process, which can involve a great deal of detail-oriented work even before the trial begins.

  • Assessment — The initial case investigation to determine the details of your case and formulate a litigation plan moving forward. This first step may also encompass examining evidence, locating and taking statements from witnesses, and gathering any supporting documents.
  • Pre-Trial — Other responsibilities leading up to trial include filing motions and pleas, retaining expert witnesses, and finalizing any case discovery matters. Each detail of this process should be thoroughly communicated to ensure that the client is well aware of the details of their case. This is also the final opportunity for the case to be settled outside of court.
  • Trial — If the case is not settled by this point, which the vast majority are, then a qualified litigator must be prepared to present the case before a judge. This is the part of the process that most people think of when picturing the responsibilities of a litigator. The truth is, while the trial can often be the most stressful part of the process for the client, much of the work has already been done in advance by the litigation team.
  • Settlement — A settlement can be reached at any time during the litigation process, and many cases are settled before ever reaching the trial stage. At this stage it is the responsibility of the attorney to handle negotiations, and draft a settlement decision with the client’s best interest in mind.
  • Appeal — If the outcome of the case is not deemed to be favorable, it may be appealed. At this point, litigators will identify grounds for appeal and draft post-trial motions to begin the process, at all times keeping clients informed about the next step.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC we understand that the litigation process can be extremely intimidating for families and individuals who are involved in the litigation of contested wills, trusts, or guardianships. Our attorneys possess the knowledge, versatility and experience to help determine the best course of action for your case. To learn more about our services or to retain a litigation attorney in Chicago, contact us at 855-328-5787.

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3 Instances When You Need A Fiduciary Litigation Attorney In Chicago

Meeting with an AttorneyNot everyone who has been named as a fiduciary representative for a friend or family member’s estate in Chicago needs the counsel of a lawyer. Even fewer require the services of a litigation attorney. But there are a few instances when you need to retain the expertise of a lawyer who is not only skilled in estate planning, wills and trusts, but who is also a litigation attorney. Here are three situations in which you’ll want to contact a litigation attorney in Chicago.

A Litigation Attorney In Chicago Is Essential If…

1. There’s Conflict Over The Will.  The biggest reason for litigation involving a will or estate comes from disgruntled heirs. Sometimes there is no will to speak of. Other times there is a will but the heirs aren’t happy with it. Still other times, the heirs have a problem with the executor of the will. Any one of the instances can result in the fiduciary agent, or executor, becoming involved in a lawsuit.

If you think the heirs are going to be unhappy with you or the provisions of the will, you will want to consult an attorney right away. Whether or not it leads to litigation may need to be seen, but by speaking with an attorney at the soonest possible moment, you can position and protect yourself from being blindsided by a lawsuit.

2. You Goofed. Sometimes lawsuits are filed when the fiduciary agent messes up. As fiduciary you have certain responsibilities to the estate and the court. If you neglect these duties or don’t perform them correctly, you open yourself up to personal liability and may find yourself on the defending end of a lawsuit. If you know you’ve made a mistake contact a litigation attorney at Peck Ritchey, LLC immediately. It’s possible the mistake can be easily rectified without a lawsuit being filed. We can help get you back on track and managing your duties properly.

If you’re unsure of how to fulfill your duties, contact us. We can advise and guide you through the process to ensure you are acting within the confines of the law and performing your duties as intended.

3. You’ve Already Been Named In A Lawsuit. If you’ve already been named in a lawsuit you need to find a litigation attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will work to protect your rights and interests and help you get through the lawsuit with as little damage as possible. At Peck Ritchey we try to minimize litigation at all costs, but if attempts at negotiating a settlement fail, we are prepared to vigorously defend you in a court of law.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC we represent families and individuals who are involved in the litigation of contested wills, trusts, and guardianships. Not only do we represent fiduciaries, we can also advise them and help them fulfill their responsibilities. Peck Ritchey also administers estates, acting as the fiduciary or executor of an estate. To learn more about our fiduciary or estate planning services or to speak with a litigation attorney in Chicago, contact us at 855-328-5787.

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Estate Arguments: When Should You Contact a Probate Attorney?

Estate PlanningThere can be a myriad of factors the can cause a dispute over a deceased person’s estate.

Perhaps there is an issue with the will. Do you suspect it was signed under questionable circumstances, like after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease? A Chicago probate attorney can investigate the legitimacy of the will to help ensure that the rightful beneficiaries obtain what was promised to them. The attorney will go to probate court to contest the will and then inspect if it is valid.

It takes a while to file the necessary paperwork, close accounts, and sell off property after an individual passes away. Estate administration is a time consuming and tedious process. Sometimes, unfortunately, the person responsible for handling the distribution of a deceased person’s property and assets may not be qualified; other times he may take money for himself instead of distributing it to the rightful beneficiaries. If you are an heir or beneficiary of a person who passed away, and suspect that something isn’t right, it would be well advised to consult with a Chicago probate attorney.

A probate attorney can challenge any aspect of a decedent’s estate. Probate lawyers can get the court to step in to supervise the administration of the estate. This would mean that an inventory would have to be made as well as an accounting of all the financial transactions. This will better allow the court to see if there are any improprieties or mistakes in handling the deceased person’s final accountings. This would also force the administrator to get permission from the court to do anything related to the estate; the administrator would have to get the court’s permission to sell off property, give away assets to beneficiaries or to close accounts.

After a loved one dies, it can often be a trying time for anybody close to that person. If you are questioning or arguing with family and friends about the deceased’s final wishes, then it’s time to connect with a Chicago probate attorney. Peck Ritchey, LLC’s attorneys will provide a free 30-minute phone consultation. Put your mind at ease and call (855) 328-5787.

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What Can A Chicago Litigation Attorney Do For You?

litigation lawyers ChicagoTelevision and movies give Americans a somewhat misguided view of what a Chicago litigation attorney actually does. Before you find a lawyer to take a case, learn about the process your attorney will go through during your suit. Knowing what to expect from your attorney during each step of the process can help ensure that your experience is a positive one.

First, Know How To Hire A Chicago Litigation Attorney

Before you can even start a case, you need to make sure you have the right Chicago litigation attorney. You should make appointments with a number of lawyers in your area for a consultation. This first visit is usually free of charge, but some attorneys do charge a small fee for a consultation. During this visit, you’ll be asked to explain your case, as well as ask the attorney any questions about what you can expect during the trial. Beware of any attorneys who promise a specific outcome or judgment on your case. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to accurately predict a judgment, but it’s not unheard of for an attorney to expect to win if your case is a strong one.

How Your Chicago Litigation Attorney Will Investigate

Once you’ve hired a Chicago litigation attorney, the next step he or she will take is to investigate. Your attorney will interview you extensively, as well as gather witness statements to learn about all the aspects of the suit. During this time, your lawyer will probably meet with the other party’s attorney to discuss a settlement amount. If both sides reach an agreement, the case will be considered closed and a trial will not take place.

How Your Chicago Litigation Attorney Will Approach Discovery

Discovery is the next step for a Chicago litigation attorney. In this stage, your attorney will be able to ask the opposing party’s legal team for any documents that are important to the case. However, there are certain documents that are protected from discovery and do not need to be turned over. These include privileged information and work product.

The Pre-Trial And Trial Periods

During the pre-trial period, your Chicago litigation attorney will find expert witnesses and work out a plan for the trial. However, if your case is civil one, a trial is unlikely to take place. Many times, the attorneys reach a settlement agreement well before the trial occurs. This does require both sides to agree on the outcome. Once this occurs, the case is considered closed.

Although a Chicago litigation attorney isn’t quite what the movies and television depict, they are still a very necessary part of the legal community. If you suspect that you have a case, it’s a great idea to meet with an experienced Chicago litigation attorney at Peck Ritchey. We will help you determine if you should pursue your lawsuit and move forward. Peck Ritchey does offer a free initial consultation, so be certain to contact us if you’re in need of our specialized services.

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Avoid Estate Litigation in Chicago With These Tips From Peck Ritchey

Estate PlanningEstate litigation is one of the most common types of litigation a Chicago elder law firm will see. Disagreements over the division of wealth or prized possessions can tear even the closest family apart. But these disagreements can be avoided with a little advance planning. A simple will can stop many types of litigation in Chicago from ever starting. While you can never predict estate litigation, you can minimize the likelihood of your will or estate being taken to court by incorporating these tips into your will.

7 Ways To Avoid Estate Litigation In Chicago

1. Keep things equal. The biggest trigger for familial litigation in Chicago is when the children of the decedent are treated unequally. If you want to avoid having your will contested, divide your assets equally among your children. Do not favor one over the other for any reason, including stepchildren. In the eyes of the law, all children, stepchildren or not, have equal right to the inheritance. If you’ve decided to disinherit a child for some reason or another, include that in legal documents or that child will be able to make a claim to your property and assets.

2. Give away prized possessions ahead of time. The easiest way to prevent arguments from breaking out over who gets mom’s fine china or dad’s antique car are to give those possessions to their intended recipients while you’re still alive and able to voice your wishes. If you want certain things to go to certain heirs after you pass, include an inventory of the items along with your wishes for who gets what.

3. Record loans given out. If you have given one child a loan and not another, record it. Spell out the terms of the loan – is the child expected to pay it back, will it be deducted from their inheritance amount or will it be forgiven upon your death? Decide on the terms and include that with your legal documents.

4. Use formal agreements to transfer assets. Trusts and contracts are useful tools to transfer assets to an heir and avoid litigation. Chicago families who have businesses they want to pass on to a specific child often use contract of sale to do so. Contracts of law that are completed when you’re alive are hard to challenge and offer solid proof of your wishes.

Trusts are used in estate plans to transfer real property. A trust allows you to live on the property for a set period of time after which ownership is transferred to the heir you’ve designated. A trust can be enacted any time, even when you’re still alive.

5. Get a doctor’s note. The most common argument we hear in estate litigation in Chicago is that the parent was not of sound mind when he or she made their will or signed their legal documents. The best way to stop this argument in its tracks is to have your attending physician and a psychiatrist sign off on your physical and mental health at the time that you create or sign your will.

6. The “no-contest” clause. If you know that someone will be unhappy with your will and may try to challenge it, add a no-contest clause. These clauses often stop litigation before it starts because they state that any beneficiary who contests the will forfeits his or her interests in it. This is a very effective tool to prevent estate litigation in Chicago, particularly if the expected troublemaker is getting something he or she really wants.

7. Don’t wait. Draw up a will now. Do it while you’re healthy and aware of what your wishes are. If you wait until you’re ill, you are asking for litigation. Someone is certain to argue that your illness made you confused and you didn’t understand what you were doing or they can argue that you were coerced by another beneficiary into doing their bidding. What’s even worse? If you wait too long to draw up your will these things may become true. You don’t want to be in a situation where you could be coerced into doing something you don’t want to do. Get a will drawn up now and prevent the drama before it starts.

Contact the elder law attorneys at Peck Ritchey for assistance in drawing up a will or designing an estate plan. We can help you design a plan that will decrease the likelihood of litigation in Chicago and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

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Understanding The Difference Between Trial Attorneys and Litigation Attorneys In Chicago

Many people hear the word litigation and assume that means a court case. Likewise, they hear litigation attorney and figure that means the attorney will carry the case through the court system all the way to a trial in front of a judge and jury. In some cases this is true, but in many more instances, it is not. Trial attorneys and litigation attorneys in Chicago provide different, but equally important services. To help clear up the confusion, here’s a brief overview of each of these legal professionals.

Peck Ritchey Litigation Attorneys In Chicago

To fully understand the role of litigation attorneys, you need to understand that not all lawsuits go to trial. In fact, the vast majority are settled out of court thanks to the work of litigation attorneys. In Chicago, our litigation attorneys at Peck Ritchey work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to achieve an appropriate solution to their legal problems. This may include mediation, out of court settlements or going to trial.

But it all begins with the work of litigation attorneys in Chicago. These professionals handle all of the work that goes into prosecuting or defending a lawsuit long before it ever gets to the trial phase. Litigation attorneys will meet with their clients to determine if a case exists. They can file and respond to lawsuits, conduct research, interview witnesses, obtain depositions and most importantly, file and argue motions. Motions are what get a case or evidence reviewed, dismissed or reconsidered and filing them is a major part of the litigation attorney’s job. All of this is aimed at keeping the case out of the courtroom, but if it does head to court, litigation attorneys in Chicago will use their research to present your case. These lawyers can also prepare the client and witnesses for the trial.

Peck Ritchey litigation attorneys help clients from the very beginning of the case, before it is ever filed all the way through to the end when settlement is awarded. A litigator specializes in one or two specific areas of law and provides expert legal advice in those areas. Their strengths are in research, fact-finding and getting into the details of a case.

Some, but not all, litigation attorneys in Chicago are also trial attorneys. At Peck Ritchey we have both litigation and trial lawyers on staff so you will have a familiar face at your side whether the case goes to the judge and jury or not.

The Generalist Nature Of Trial Attorneys

Trial attorneys differ from litigation attorneys in their area of expertise. Most trial lawyers are generalists. That is, they do not specialize in one or two very specific areas of law like litigation attorneys in Chicago do. Instead, the trial attorney’s strength lies in his or her ability to present a case in front of a judge and jury. Trial attorneys may prosecute or defend in many areas of law without being expert in all of those areas. They will rely on the research and knowledge of the litigation attorney who has been handling the case to help them develop it for the trial. In the courtroom, the trial attorney is the one who will make statements, ask questions of witnesses and present evidence.

Again, it is possible for litigation attorneys in Chicago to also be skilled in trials but it is by no means assured.

If you’re in need of skilled probate, trust or elder law trial or litigation attorneys in Chicago, contact the attorneys at Peck Ritchey. We are committed to safeguarding our clients’ interests and have the skills and experience needed to do so.

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