If perhaps you haven’t before now, chances are that sometime in your lifetime you will have to employ a lawyer. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here’s a selection of responses to common along with fundamental questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I want to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many attorneys practice in other counties and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county in which the matter is being litigated is important as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One consideration in retaining legal counsel away from area wherein the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or maintain a billable rate for all work performed. Talk about that question with each attorney consulted.
2. QUESTION: How can I be certain my attorney is handling my case?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients – month-to-month, quarterly, etc. You may even keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to occasionally review the docket and see what events have occurred by your attorney and the other party/counsel. It’s also advisable to feel comfortable contacting your attorney at intervals to learn the status of the issue, knowing you will likely be billed for these communications.
3. QUESTION: Just how do I select an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal dilemmas are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are generally just as perplexing. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to study your area of need and research what lawyers are out there to help you. A recommendation from someone you know and respect can add a personal element to the plan to hire an lawyer but should not be the only reason counsel is picked. Look into the lawyer’s background of education, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be encouraged 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 degree of thought and consideration as that given to the pick of a medical doctor, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I know if I will need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to find legal assistance immediately. Documents filed in court that begin a lawsuit call for responses that involve particular deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could compromise your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a “pre-suit” period of time that enable you to think about the legal issues and probable resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is recommended.
5. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial amongst the parties and their counsel, and continue maintaining the confidential aspect of the conference to inspire settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the fee of the mediation evenly but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is generally required in every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What type of law firm do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, attorneys may specialize in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer you services in several precise areas of law. Trial lawyers deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle almost all matters. Some areas of law are extremely specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker’s compensation. Any lawyer can talk about your specific issue, determine if he/she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the need to consult with another in a specialized area.
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