If you haven't before now, probably sometime in your life you'll have to retain a lawyer. Thanks to my consultation with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, below is a number of answers to frequent and worthwhile questions.
1. QUESTION: How can I make certain my attorney is resolving my case?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a statement of how the attorney bills his clients - in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You can also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you're wise to occasionally review the docket and see what events have transpired by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel at ease contacting your attorney at intervals to determine the status of the issue, knowing you'll likely be billed for these communications.
2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney at law in the county where the issue 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 will be litigated is crucial as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the local courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in retaining legal counsel outside the area wherein the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others offer a lowered rate or maintain a billable rate for all work performed. Talk about that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I determine if I require a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have been recently served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek out legal advice right away. Documents filed in court that commence a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve specific deadlines; missing out on 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 consider the legal issues and possible resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible is recommended.
4. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed place with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential aspect of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the charge of the mediation evenly but other arrangements may be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is generally required in every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What kind of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, lawyers may specialise in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in a few unique areas of law. Trial lawyers handle cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle nearly all matters. Some areas of law are very technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, like worker's compensation. Any lawyer 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 consult with another in a specialised area.
6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I pick an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal issues are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as complex. To protect your rights and remedies, the best practice would be to study your area of need and research what legal professionals are available to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and regard can bring a personal element to the plan to hire an attorney but really should not be the exclusive reason counsel is selected. Research the attorney's background of schooling, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but may also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be considered with the exact same level of thought and consideration as that directed at the choice of a medical doctor, accountant, financial expert or therapist.
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