In case you have not already, probably sometime in your lifetime you will have to hire an attorney. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, this is a selection of responses to basic as well as worthwhile 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 experience in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is crucial as that attorney will have a comfort level with the local courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in hiring a lawyer outside the area in which the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others give you a lowered rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Talk about that question with each lawyer consulted.
2. QUESTION: How can I be certain my attorney is resolving my problems?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer monitors his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer contract should include a confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - month-to-month, 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 available, you are wise to routinely review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your attorney and the other party/counsel. In addition feel at ease getting in contact with your attorney at intervals to determine the status of the issue, understanding you will likely be charged for these interactions.
3. QUESTION: Just how do I select an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal topics are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and tend to be just as perplexing. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the ideal practice is to investigate your area of need and research what legal professionals are available to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and admire can bring a personal element to the decision to hire an lawyer but should not be the singular reason counsel is chosen. Look into the attorney's background of schooling, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be urged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but can also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be considered with exactly the same degree of thought and consideration as that directed at the choice of a doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I know if I will need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and associated documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to find legal guidance right away. Documents filed in court that start a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; missing those deadlines could damage your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a "pre-suit" period that enable you to take into account the legal issues and probable resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel immediately is advised.
5. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed place with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and solve all or some of the issues involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial in between the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential structure of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the charge of the mediation evenly but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is typically required in just about every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What type of attorney at law do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, attorneys may specialise in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or provide services in a few unique 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 almost all matters. Some areas of law are very technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker's compensation. Any attorney can go over your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the necessity to consult with another in a specialized area.
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