In the event that you haven't before now, chances are that sometime in your lifetime you'll have to seek the services of legal counsel. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, what follows is a listing of answers to very common along with important questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I want to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other jurisdictions and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county in which the matter will be litigated is essential as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel outside the area in which the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some lawyers don't charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work conducted. Talk about that question with each lawyer consulted.
2. QUESTION: How can I be certain my attorney is working on my problems?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer agreement should include a affirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You can also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that established, you are wise to periodically review the docket and see what events have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. In addition feel comfortable getting in touch with your lawyer at intervals to ascertain the status of the issue, understanding you will likely be charged for these communications.
3. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal matters are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and usually are just as perplexing. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to research your area of need and research what legal professionals are out there to work with you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can add a personal element to the plan to hire an law firm but really should not be the exclusive reason counsel is picked. Research the lawyer'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 may also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be contemplated with the same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the pick of a doctor, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I will need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to seek out legal assistance right away. Documents filed in court that commence a lawsuit require responses that involve exact deadlines; skipping those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a "pre-suit" time period that enable you to take into account the legal issues and possible resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer immediately is advised.
5. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and solve all or a number of the issues involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential structure of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the charge of the mediation equally but other arrangements can 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.
6. QUESTION: What type of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, lawyers may specialise in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer you services in several specific areas of law. Trial attorneys handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle nearly all matters. Some areas of law are extremely technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker's compensation. Any lawyer should be able to go over your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to handle such matters or advise you of the need to consult with another in a specialised area.
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