When it comes to lawsuits, there are two main types of law firms: plaintiff and defense. Plaintiff law firms represent people or organizations who are filing a lawsuit against another person or organization. Defense law firms, on the other hand, represent the person or organization being sued. There are many differences between these two types of law firms, but the most notable ones are how they approach cases and how they generally charge clients.
Plaintiff law firms typically take a more aggressive approach to cases than defense firms. They are often willing to go to trial and fight for every last penny, whereas defense firms usually try to settle cases out of court. This is not to say that plaintiff firms do not also aim to settle cases. Most cases brought by plaintiff firms are settled before any courtroom trial ever takes place. Plaintiff firms must also be judicious about the cases they choose to take as, unlike defense firms, plaintiff firms are generally only paid if they win their client's case.
Another big difference between these two types of law firms is how they charge clients. Plaintiff firms usually work on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if their client wins the case. Defense firms, on the other hand, typically bill by the hour. This is because clients usually have to pay whether they win or lose, so they want to make sure they are getting their money's worth.
Defense firms can be further broken down into general defense firms, which serve most people in everyday defense matters, and corporate defense firms serving Fortune 500 companies. Corporate defense firms are often called "Big Law," due to their wealth, size, and that hundreds of corporate lawyers generally work for one such firm. Big Law firms are known for their long hours, high billable hour requirements, and being very intense places to work.
In general, plaintiff firms tend to be smaller than defense firms. This is because plaintiffs usually do not have the same kind of deep pockets that defendants do. Plaintiff firms also tend to be less formal than defense firms and may have a more relaxed atmosphere.
If you are thinking about hiring a law firm, it is important to know which type of firm you need. If you are the one filing a lawsuit, you will want to hire a plaintiff firm. If you are the one being sued, you will want to hire a defense firm.
A law firm representing whistleblowers, like Piacentile, Stefanowski & Associates, also known as Whistleblowers International, is considered a plaintiff-side firm and operates on a contingency fee basis.