The litigation process has several stages.

The first is the "pleading" stage.  This starts when you initiate the lawsuit by filing a Complaint, and ends when the defendant files an Answer (or Motion to Dismiss).  This phase frames the basic issues in the case.  The Complaint sets out the claims for relief ...  the Answer sets out the defenses that will be asserted.

Shortly after the last pleading is filed, each party engages in a voluntarily disclosure of witnesses and documents, known as Rule 26 Disclosures.  After a Case Management Conference, each party can engage in discovery (interrogattories, depositions, etc.) to learn more about the information exchanged under Rule 26, and to better prepare for trial.

The last step is the trial itself.

Litigation can be a long, difficult process.  Usually, an experienced trial lawyer is needed to help work through this process and present your case to a judge or jury!