Training Guide



Training Guide


Civil Litigation Basics
Remote or in person

What’s Covered

  • Complaints 
    • Pre-filing investigation
    • The format and parts of a complaint
    • Factual allegations: how to allege facts in a complaint
    • Legal and strategic considerations in drafting a complaint 
  • Answers 
    • Procedure for filing an answer
    • The format and parts of an answer
    • Responding to factual allegations
    • Defenses, counterclaims, and cross-claims

Before the Session

Prepare the Attendees

Send the attendees an invitation for the session. Include this link, which has the videos and exercise they’ll need to prepare.

Prepare Yourself

Watch the videos and read the exercise so you’re familiar with the Hotshot material.

  • still frame from Parts of an Answer and When to File


    Answering a Complaint

    Answers respond to the allegations in a complaint. This course covers the main parts of an answer, how to respond to factual allegations, affirmative defenses, counterclaims, and cross-claims.

  • still frame from The Parts of a Complaint


    The Complaint

    The complaint is the pleading that formally starts a lawsuit. This course provides an introduction to complaints, including the typical structure and content, pre-filing considerations, and ethical obligations when filing a complaint.

  • Icon of a document


    The Complaint

  • Icon of a document


    Answering a Complaint


During the Session

Part 1: Knowledge Check

Ask attendees these questions to ensure they understand the topic:

  • What are the ethical responsibilities of a lawyer filing a complaint on behalf of their client?
  • What words do you use in a complaint for allegations you don’t personally know but have reason to believe are true?
  • What are the parts of a typical complaint?
  • What’s the purpose of the Jurisdiction and Venue section in a complaint?
  • What’s a conclusory allegation?
  • What does pleading standard mean?
  • What are the strategic considerations in deciding how much detail to include in a complaint?
  • What’s the main purpose of an answer, and what other sections might one include?
  • What rules should be consulted when preparing an answer?
  • When drafting an answer, hat are the available responses to each allegation?
  • What’s the best way to respond to an allegation that quotes or refers to a document?
  • What are affirmative defenses?
  • What’s the difference between a counterclaim and a cross claim?
Part 2: Group Exercise

Lead a group discussion based on the exercise. To encourage collaboration, divide the attendees into groups to discuss the exercise, then have a representative from each group summarize their views to the larger group. Call on people to share their thoughts and ask others to respond.

Tip for remote sessions: use your web conferencing system’s breakout room feature to divide people into groups.

Part 3: War Stories and Firm Specifics

Share your own experiences and guidance, including:

  • Anecdotes and war stories (e.g., about a near-disaster or a tough negotiation)
  • General practice tips (dos and don’ts)
  • Firm-specific guidance and practices

After the Session

To continue their learning, attendees can check out related courses in Hotshot's Civil Litigation Basics topic.

About Hotshot

Hotshot helps lawyers develop their legal, business, and technology skills through short videos, quizzes, and summaries, and we help law firms and law schools plan and deliver engaging training programs. Our customers include Am Law 200 firms, top law schools, and regional and international firms.

Contact us at if you’re interested in a free consultation about remote training for your firm.

Log in or sign up at