In the event that you have not already, chances are that sometime in your lifetime you'll have to hire an attorney at law. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, listed here is a list of responses to common and imperative questions.
1. QUESTION: How may 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 confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - month-to-month, quarterly, etc. You may also track your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that established, you're wise to routinely review the docket and see what changes have occurred by your counsel and the other party/counsel. In addition feel at ease contacting your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, knowing you will likely be charged for these communications.
2. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other jurisdictions and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter is being litigated is important as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the local courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel outside the area wherein the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some lawyers don't charge for travel, others give you a reduced rate or maintain a billable rate for all work performed. Clarify that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have been recently served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek legal guidance right away. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve particular deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that enable you to take into account the legal issues and probable resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is recommended.
4. QUESTION: What exactly is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed site with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and solve all or some of the concerns involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their counsel, and continue maintaining the confidential aspect of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the cost of the mediation evenly but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is normally required in every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What type of lawyer 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 a few specific areas of law. Trial attorneys handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle nearly all matters. Some areas of law are very technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any lawyer can discuss your particular issue, determine if he/she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the need to seek advice from another in a specialised area.
6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal issues are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and might be just as perplexing. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what law firms are around to work with you. A recommendation from somebody you know and respect can add a personal element to the plan to hire an lawyer but shouldn't be the sole reason counsel is selected. Research the lawyer's background of schooling, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but can also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be contemplated with the exact same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.
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