If perhaps you have not by now, chances are that sometime in your own lifetime you'll need to retain the services of an attorney at law. Thanks to my consultation with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, listed here is a list of responses to common and worthwhile questions.
1. QUESTION: How may I make certain my attorney is resolving my problems?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer contract should include a confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - month-to-month, 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 established, you are wise to occasionally review the docket and see what events have occurred by your attorney and the other party/counsel. You should also feel at ease getting in touch with your lawyer at intervals to determine the status of the issue, knowing you will likely be billed for these communications.
2. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney at law in the county where the case occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other jurisdictions and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county in which the matter will be litigated is important as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One consideration in retaining legal counsel away from area in which the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others offer a reduced rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Discuss that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I determine if I need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to look for legal guidance without delay. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; missing those deadlines could damage your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a "pre-suit" period that allow you to consider the legal issues and potential resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel immediately is advised.
4. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed location with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the concerns involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial amongst the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential nature of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually 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 before a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What type of attorney at law do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, lawyers may concentrate in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer you services in several precise areas of law. Trial lawyers deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle divorce, 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, such as worker's compensation. Any attorney should be able to go over your particular issue, determine if he/she is qualified to take care of such matters or inform you of the need to consult with another in a specialized area.
6. QUESTION: How do I select an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal problems are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are generally just as complicated. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the best practice is to study your area of need and research what law firms are available to work with you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can bring a personal element to the decision to hire an lawyer but shouldn't be the singular reason counsel is chosen. Research the lawyer's background of education, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but can also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be considered with the exact same level of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a medical doctor, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.
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