Three Phases of a Lawsuit

Kevin Sandstrom | Civil Litigation | Municipal Civil Litigation

Clients often want to know how long a lawsuit will take if it goes all the way through a trial. Although it varies a lot depending on the complexity of the case, generally my response is 10 to 12 months. Lawsuits can be broken into three parts... pleadings, discovery, and some manner of conclusion.

  • Pleadings: These are the initial documents that start a lawsuit and outline the claims, counterclaims, and defenses of each side. Filing of all the pleadings usually takes 30 to 60 days. It can last longer if either side opts to attempt an early motion to dismiss or add parties into the lawsuit.
  • Discovery: The parties mutually exchange factual information during discovery. This exchange is usually in the form of interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, depositions, and production of expert witness opinions. This phase is usually the longest and often lasts 6 months or more.
  • Conclusion: Following discovery, the lawsuit needs a final conclusion. Most cases settle, with mediation being the most common means of reaching settlement. If settlement efforts fail, then the final outcome is determined by trial. Depending on how many of these efforts are needed to reach a final outcome, the conclusion phase on average lasts another month (if settled) to several months (through trial).

The good news is that a majority of civil lawsuits do settle short of trial, and a skilled litigator can help position your case to resolve favorably and earlier on in the process, saving you time and money!


If you have any questions about the content of this article or are possibly in need of a skilled litigator please contact attorney Kevin Sandstrom at 651-351-2134, or email at

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