Civil lawyers sometimes work alone or sometimes in a practice with other lawyers. Generally, civil lawyers only handle cases in the state or federal courts in which they are licensed to practice law. Unlike doctors, lawyers do not have formal specializations based on tests and clinical practice. Instead, lawyers develop expertise in particular areas by handling cases in those areas and keeping up to date on legal developments. As with most legal matters, crime victims are well advised to seek lawyers with experience handling these types of claims. Crime victim recovery cases are usually billed on a contingency basis — the lawyer receives a percentage of the victim’s award of damages as a fee only if there is a successful outcome. This enables far more victims to have their day in court than if victims had to pay a lawyer an hourly rate for services, which many people could not afford.
Many lawyers also employ paralegals, legal assistants, private investigators and secretaries to assist in the case. These professionals frequently have direct contact with victims and communicate regularly with the lawyer.