Legal Improv - Criminal vs. Civil Law

If you are using this website, you likely know the difference between the two. If you don't, we're not going to teach it to you. That's not the point of this page. This page is designed to talk about the differences between a criminal trial (where someone is charged by the government with a crime) as opposed to a civil trial (where there is a dispute between two parties to be resolved by the courts).

For our purposes, the differences are important to note, as are the similarities. The skill sets that we provide are both general (that would apply to both) and specific (that would apply to one, or even a sub-section of one). We can create customized workshops to work on your specific needs.

legal improv law firm team building skills training workshops mcle programs

Legal Improv - MCLE and Other Training Programs for Law Firms

Criminal vs. Civil Law

they improvThere are many differences between the two sections of law, and each has subsections that are entirely too detailed to put on a website. Such examples could include the idea of probate of a will as opposed to the suit for wrongful termination. Both are civil in nature and yet have vast differences.

Criminal Law. Simply put, the government has charged someone with a crime. This covers jurisdictions from federal to state to county to locality. Of course different states operate differently, such as the use of Parishes in Louisiana as opposed to Counties. The information here is generic to apply across the board while we obviously have the knowledge for more specific sets of circumstances.

Criminal Law often involves different elements from the prosecution, the defense, the jury, the judge, law enforcement, the media and political influences. These last two are much less common to be involved in an individual case, but it happens as local politicians can seek to gain influence through attempting to interject themselves in the case at hand. Likewise, media can impact the outcome as well as to influence potential jury pools.

Civil Litigation. Civil litigation where the state seeks to serve as the deciding authority in a dispute between two parties. This tends to be less political in nature. While the players are very similar, the plaintiff (as opposed to the prosecution) and the defense act differently, and the level of burden is different as well. Further, the jury no longer requires a unanimous verdict, so jury nullification and other strategies become less successful.

Prosecution / Plaintiff. Being the one to bring up the case instills a burden when approaching the jury. Your responsibility is to sell a logical story, laying it out step-by-step, to bring the members of the jury to understand the issues involved and to see no path but that of being on your side. You have to defend each element of the story and keep the path very simple. It is easy for the jury to get lost in the minute details of a case and so the closing argument is used to retell the story and get them back on track.

Criminal Defense. The defendant tends to have benefit of the doubt in the eyes of the court. The statistics, however, do not bear this out. In general, if a criminal case goes to trial there is some enormous percentage success on behalf of the prosecution. This is disjointed, however, as the financial benefits of being a civil attorney tends to draw the best away from criminal defense. Likewise, seldom are cases with light evidence brought to trial. This means that the prosecution generally feels they are going to win. The Defense often concentrates on finding mistakes in the prosecution and trying to tell a story of their own. Improving the skills of a criminal defense attorney can do wonders to cause problems for a prosecutor and help make sure that criminal defendants receive a vigorous defense.

Civil Defense. The defense in a civil case is far different. There is usually a tremendous amount of money at stake and either in-house counsel or major firms are involved. Instead of the small amount of time criminal defense attorneys have to spend on a case, civil actions can take years to resolve with thousands of documents going back and forth through the process.

Our services can assist in all of these situations in many ways, including mock trials, jury selection and practice sessions. We can help with opening and closing statements and help to improve the general tenor of an attorney.

We understand the need for confidentiality and review all such agreements to ensure a level of secrecy to maintain your relationship with your clients. We will usually not take control of work product and rather not take any material off-location to help ensure our relationships with our clients. Simply ask us for more information about how far we will go to protect our clients.

those THEY have performed forWhether for Appellate, Business, Civil, Constitutional, Criminal, Entertainment, Family (including Trusts, Estates, Divorce, Elder and Juvenile), Intellectual Property, Medical, Military, Securities or Tax Law, or any of the other branches, we either already have a program that can assist practitioners or can develop a special program to improve performance.

Locations. We have people already in most major cities around the country or can make arrangements if needed. This includes the top cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and practically anywhere else you can imagine. We also have access to Canada, Mexico and the islands of the Caribbean if you would like to conduct something while at a retreat. Simply contact us to find out how we can help you.

Contact Us. Contact us by email at or by calling (866) 219-4386.