Assuming you haven't previously, chances are that sometime in your own lifetime you will want to retain an attorney at law. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, here's a variety of answers to common and important questions.
1. QUESTION: How will I be certain my attorney is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer agreement should include a statement of how the attorney bills his clients - up front, quarterly, etc. You may also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you are wise to periodically review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your attorney and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel at ease getting in touch with your lawyer at intervals to learn the status of the issue, knowing you will likely be billed for these communications.
2. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney or lawyer 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 is being litigated is essential as that lawyer will have a level of comfort with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining a lawyer away from area wherein the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others give you a lowered rate or maintain a billable rate for all work conducted. Discuss that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I know if I require a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek legal assistance immediately. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve particular deadlines; missing those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that enable you to think about the legal issues and potential resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer immediately is advised.
4. QUESTION: What exactly 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 chosen mediator to try and solve all or a number of the concerns 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 structure of the conference to inspire settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the charge of the mediation evenly but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is normally required in just about every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What kind of legal professional do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, lawyers may concentrate in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or provide 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 related matters; general practitioners handle almost all matters. Some areas of law are extremely specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any lawyer can discuss your particular issue, determine if he/she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the need to consult with another in a specialized area.
6. QUESTION: Exactly how do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal difficulties are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and might be just as perplexing. To protect your rights and remedies, the very best practice is to research your area of need and research what attorneys are around 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 sole reason counsel is picked. Look into the attorney's background of training, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be urged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but can also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be considered with the same degree of thought and consideration as that directed at the choice of a medical professional, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.
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