In the case you have not previously, chances are that sometime in your life you'll need to retain the services of an attorney at law. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, what follows is a selection of answers to very common as well as worthwhile questions.
1. QUESTION: How will I be sure my attorney is resolving my case?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer contract should include a confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - up front, quarterly, etc. You may also track your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that established, you're wise to often review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. Also feel comfortable contacting your lawyer at intervals to determine the status of the issue, understanding you will likely be billed for these interactions.
2. QUESTION: Do I want to hire an attorney at law in the county where the case occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other jurisdictions and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is crucial as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in retaining legal counsel outside the area wherein the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some attorneys don't charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or maintain a billable rate for all work carried out. Clarify that question with each attorney consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to look for legal advice now. Papers filed in court that start a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve specific deadlines; skipping those deadlines could damage your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" time period that allow 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.
4. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the issues involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial amongst the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential aspect of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the charge of the mediation equally but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is generally required in just about every case filed in court and before a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What kind of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, lawyers may specialize in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer you services in several unique areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any lawyer should be able to go over your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to consult with another in a specialised area.
6. QUESTION: Just how do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal concerns are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and might be just as complex. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the best practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what lawyers are available to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and admire can bring a personal element to the consideration to hire an law firm but should not be the only reason counsel is selected. Look into the lawyer's background of training, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but may also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be contemplated with exactly the same level of thought and consideration as that directed at the pick of a medical doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.
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