In case you have not by now, chances are that sometime in a lifetime you'll need to retain the services of legal counsel. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, what follows is a group of responses to very common and worthwhile questions.
1. QUESTION: How will I be certain my attorney is resolving my case?
ANSWER: Every good attorney monitors his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - up front, quarterly, etc. You can also track your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you're wise to routinely review the docket and see what events have taken place by your counsel and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel at ease getting in touch with your lawyer at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, understanding you'll likely be billed for these communications.
2. QUESTION: Do I want to hire an attorney 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 experience in the county in which the matter is being litigated is essential as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One matter in hiring legal counsel away from area wherein the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others give you a decreased rate or maintain a billable rate for all work carried out. Clarify that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to seek legal advice without delay. Documents filed in court that commence a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve particular deadlines; missing those deadlines could damage your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that allow you to take into account the legal issues and potential resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer at the earliest opportunity is advised.
4. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the problems involved. Mediators should 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 nature of the conference to inspire settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the fee of the mediation equally but other arrangements may be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is usually required in just about every case filed in court and before a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What type of legal professional do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, lawyers may specialize in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in several precise areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle almost all matters. Some areas of law are very complex, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any lawyer should be able to talk about your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the need to speak with another in a specialised area.
6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal troubles are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and may be just as complex. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the very best practice is to study your area of need and research what lawyers are out there to work with you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can add a personal element to the decision to hire an attorney but shouldn't be the only reason counsel is selected. Look into the attorney's background of education, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but can also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be contemplated with the exact same degree of thought and consideration as that directed at the pick of a medical doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.
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