Assuming you haven't before now, probably sometime in your life you will have to retain the services of legal counsel. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, below is a selection of responses to common as well as worthwhile questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other counties and other states, based 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 county courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel away from area in which the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers don't charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work conducted. Discuss that question with each attorney consulted.
2. QUESTION: How can I make sure my attorney is resolving my problems?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer monitors his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the attorney bills his clients - in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You may even track 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 activities have transpired by your attorney and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel comfortable contacting your attorney at intervals to determine the status of the issue, understanding you will likely be charged for these interactions.
3. QUESTION: Exactly how do I pick an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal subjects are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as complex. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what attorneys are accessible to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can bring a personal element to the consideration to hire an law firm but shouldn't be the sole reason counsel is chosen. Look into the lawyer's background of training, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be urged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but may also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be contemplated with the exact same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the pick of a medical doctor, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I know if I will need a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and associated documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to seek out legal guidance right away. Papers filed in court that start a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; skipping those deadlines could damage your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that enable you to think about the legal issues and potential resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible is advised.
5. QUESTION: What is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed location with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and solve all or some of the problems 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 aspect of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the fee of the mediation evenly 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 prior to a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What kind of attorney at law do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, lawyers may specialize in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer services in a few specific areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle separation and divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are very technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, like worker's compensation. Any lawyer should be able to go over your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to take care of such matters or advise you of the need to consult with another in a specialized area.
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