Assuming you haven’t already, chances are that sometime in your lifetime you’ll have to retain legal counsel. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here is a list of answers to common along with worthwhile questions.
1. QUESTION: How am I able to make certain my lawyer is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer accounts for his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a confirmation of how the attorney bills his clients – once a month, 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 established, you are wise to occasionally review the docket and see what events have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. Also feel at ease contacting your attorney at intervals to learn the status of the matter, understanding you will likely be billed for these interactions.
2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the case occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many 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 essential as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One matter in hiring a lawyer away from area wherein the matter takes place is cost of journey time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others give you a reduced rate or preserve a billable rate for all work conducted. Clarify that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I determine if I will need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and associated documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to look for legal guidance immediately. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve particular deadlines; skipping those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a “pre-suit” period that enable you to take into account the legal issues and possible resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel immediately is recommended.
4. QUESTION: What is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the issues involved. Mediators should be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential structure of the conference to inspire settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the fee of the mediation equally but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is typically required in every case filed in court and before a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What type of lawyer do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, attorneys may specialize 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 handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle separation and divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are extremely technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, such as worker’s compensation. Any attorney should be able to go over your specific issue, determine if he or she is qualified to take care of such matters or inform you of the need to speak with another in a specialized area.
6. QUESTION: How do I pick an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal topics are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as complicated. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the very best practice is to investigate your area of need and research what legal professionals are available to help you. A recommendation from somebody you know and admire can bring a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but shouldn’t be the sole reason counsel is picked. Look into the lawyer’s background of education, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help can be empowering but may also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be considered with exactly the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a medical professional, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.
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