In the case you haven’t previously, probably sometime in your own life you’ll need to retain an attorney at law. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here’s a number of answers to frequent as well as fundamental questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney at law in the county where the case occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other jurisdictions and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is crucial as that attorney will have a comfort level with the local courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining a lawyer outside the area wherein the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some attorneys don’t charge for travel, others give you a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Clarify that question with each lawyer consulted.
2. QUESTION: How can I make certain my attorney is handling my problems?
ANSWER: Every good attorney accounts for his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients – in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You can also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that available, you’re wise to routinely review the docket and see what events have transpired by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. Also feel comfortable getting in contact with your lawyer at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, understanding you’ll likely be billed for these interactions.
3. QUESTION: Exactly how do I pick an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal matters are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and usually are just as complex. To protect your rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to study your area of need and research what law firms are around to help you. A recommendation from somebody you know and respect can add a personal element to the decision to hire an lawyer but should not be the exclusive reason counsel is chosen. 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 could be strengthening but can also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be contemplated with exactly the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the pick of a doctor, accountant, financial expert or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to seek out legal guidance right away. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a “pre-suit” period that allow you to consider the legal issues and potential resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer as quickly as possible is advised.
5. QUESTION: What is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed site with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and resolve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial between the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential structure of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the charge of the mediation equally but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is usually 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 businesses, lawyers may concentrate in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer you services in several unique 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 complex, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker’s compensation. Any attorney should be able to go over your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialized area.
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