If perhaps you haven't already, probably sometime in a lifetime you'll need to retain the services of a lawyer. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here's a list of answers to very common as well as fundamental questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I want to hire an attorney in the county where the case occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other jurisdictions and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter is being litigated is important as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One matter in retaining an attorney away from area in which the matter takes place is cost of journey time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Talk about that question with each attorney consulted.
2. QUESTION: How will I make sure my attorney is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer monitors his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer contract should include a confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You may even track your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to often review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your counsel and the other party/counsel. In addition feel comfortable contacting your lawyer at intervals to determine the status of the issue, understanding you'll likely be charged for these interactions.
3. QUESTION: Exactly 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 generally just as perplexing. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the very best practice is to research your area of need and research what lawyers are out there to work with you. A referral from someone you know and regard can bring a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but shouldn't be the singular reason counsel is selected. Look into the attorney's background of training, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but may also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be contemplated with the exact same level of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I will need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to find legal advice now. Documents filed in court that commence a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve particular deadlines; missing those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that allow you to consider the legal issues and probable resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer at the earliest opportunity is advised.
5. QUESTION: What is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed local with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and solve all or some of the concerns involved. Mediators should be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential structure of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the cost of the mediation equally but other arrangements may be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is typically required in every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What type of lawyer 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 several precise areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are extremely technical, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any attorney should be able to go over your particular issue, determine if he/she is prepared to handle such matters or inform you of the need to seek advice from another in a specialized area.
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