I’m not a civil lawyer, but I’ve seen a bit of how things get done on the civil side, and know a lot about how crimes are prosecuted. It might be interesting to compare the two.
Criminal lawyers spend a lot of time in courtrooms. Civil lawyers seem to spend very little time in the courtroom, but a lot of time with documents. Interrogatories, depositions, briefs, and other documents fill out the billable hours of big-firm lawyers, but are unknown and unheard of among criminal law attorneys.
Criminal defendants have very little money, and tend to prefer not to spend what they have on lawyers, even when their freedom is at stake. Criminal attorneys tend to charge by the case. Civil litigants are often very rich, and civil law firms charge by the hour. Their clients don’t seem to be all that concerned about costs.
How the Chungs managed to spend $100,000 defending themselves in a suit over a pair of pants, I don’t know. But I imagine they had a lot of lawyers working for them, and that their lawyers’ offices were very nice. (I’m guessing multiple floors in a downtown bank building, with a lot of expensive furniture, and even more expensive art.)
I will say, though, that death-penalty cases in Texas are routinely tried for a fraction of that price. I’m not saying that’s a good thing. I’m just saying that’s how it is.
The costs of litigation are a function of what people are willing to pay. Apparently, the Chungs thought $100,000 was not too much.