Assuming you haven’t before now, chances are that sometime in a lifetime you will need to retain legal counsel. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, listed here is a group of answers to basic as well as imperative questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many attorneys practice in other counties and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county in which the matter will be litigated is crucial as that lawyer will have a level of comfort with the community courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining legal counsel outside the area wherein the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or maintain a billable rate for all work carried out. Talk about that question with each attorney consulted.
2. QUESTION: How can I be sure my attorney is handling my case?
ANSWER: Every good attorney accounts for his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a statement of how the lawyer bills his clients – once a month, quarterly, etc. You can also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you are wise to occasionally review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your attorney and the other party/counsel. Also feel comfortable getting in contact with your lawyer at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, understanding you will likely be charged for these communications.
3. QUESTION: How do I pick an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal concerns are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as complex. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to study your area of need and research what law firms are available to help you. A referral from somebody you know and admire can bring a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but shouldn’t be the singular reason counsel is selected. Look into the attorney’s background of education, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be urged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but may also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be contemplated with the exact same level of thought and consideration as that given to the selection of a medical doctor, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to seek legal assistance now. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a “pre-suit” period of time that allow you to consider the legal issues and potential resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible is advised.
5. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed location with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and solve all or some of the concerns involved. Mediators should be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential aspect of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the cost of the mediation equally but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is generally required in just about every case filed in court and before a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What type of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, attorneys may concentrate in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or provide services in several specific areas of law. Trial lawyers handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle nearly all matters. Some areas of law are very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, like worker’s compensation. Any attorney can go over your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the need to speak with another in a specialised area.
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