In the case you haven't before now, chances are that sometime in your own lifetime you will want to hire a lawyer. Thanks to my consultation with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, below is a number of answers to basic and fundamental questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other counties and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county in which the matter is being litigated is essential as that attorney will have a comfort level with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel outside the area in which the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others give you a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Discuss that question with each attorney consulted.
2. QUESTION: How am I able to make sure my attorney is working on my problems?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a statement of how the attorney bills his clients - once a month, quarterly, etc. You may even keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to periodically review the docket and see what changes have taken place by your attorney and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel comfortable getting in contact with your lawyer at intervals to learn the status of the issue, knowing you will likely be billed for these interactions.
3. QUESTION: Precisely how do I pick an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal matters are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are generally just as perplexing. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to study your area of need and research what legal professionals are accessible to help you. A recommendation from somebody you know and respect can add a personal element to the consideration to hire an law firm but should not be the exclusive reason counsel is chosen. Look into the lawyer's background of training, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking important 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 contemplated with exactly the same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a physician, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I will need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek legal guidance right away. Papers filed in court that start a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve specific deadlines; skipping those deadlines could compromise your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" period that enable you to consider the legal issues and probable resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer immediately is recommended.
5. QUESTION: What exactly 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 selected mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the concerns involved. Mediators should be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial between the parties and their counsel, and continue maintaining the confidential nature of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the charge of the mediation equally 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 just before a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What kind of legal professional do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, attorneys may specialize in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in a few precise areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle almost all matters. Some areas of law are very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, like worker's compensation. Any lawyer can discuss your specific issue, determine if he or she is prepared to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to speak with another in a specialised area.
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