Making the Leap from Criminal Prosecution to Civil Litigation
By: Megan Jones

When I started law school I knew I wanted to be a litigator. I had a passion for the law and love for being on stage. Litigation was a perfect fit. I was told early in my career that if I wanted to see the inside of a courtroom, I needed to start in a district attorney’s office. When we moved down to Galveston for my husband’s residency, I applied and was offered a position at the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.

During my time at the DA’s office, I prosecuted everything from misdemeanor drug possession to felony assault. I gained significant trial experience and knowledge of criminal law. I absolutely loved my job. However, after a few years, I started to reevaluate my long-term career goals and decided I didn’t want to be a career prosecutor and I didn’t have an interest in doing criminal defense work. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to join the civil litigation defense firm Mills Shirley LLP. I was nervous about the transition, but excited to make the leap. I haven’t looked back.

The biggest transition hurdle was learning and understanding the rules of civil procedure, especially the rules governing discovery and deadlines. It was very beneficial for me to sit down and read the actual rules. Also, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions; my colleagues at the firm were always more than willing to assist me. Another hurdle was not being around the courthouse every day. I missed seeing the same familiar faces and working in the tight-knit group of the District Attorney’s Office. However, in my new practice, I find myself out in the local community more often and meeting a wider range of clients and attorneys.   

Even with the differences, there are a lot of similarities. Civil and criminal trials are almost identical. Basically, you are telling a story to a jury. You must portray the bigger picture of a case and convey that to a group of 12 people. The District Attorney’s Office gave me the foundation and ability to advocate for a certain position and I carry that into my civil practice. 

Overall, my transition to civil litigation has been successful and fulfilling. The leap was a big one, full of unexpected challenges, but even bigger rewards. If the thought has ever crossed your mind, I say go for it. You will not regret it. 

Megan Jones is an associate at Mills Shirley, LLP in Galveston, Texas where she practices civil litigation.

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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