In the instance that you haven’t already, probably sometime in your own life you will want to hire an attorney. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, this is a number of responses to common as well as important questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney or lawyer 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 experience in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is essential as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel away from area in which the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some attorneys don’t charge for travel, others offer a lowered rate or maintain a billable rate for all work carried out. Clarify that question with each lawyer consulted.
2. QUESTION: How may I make sure my lawyer is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney accounts for his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a statement of how the attorney bills his clients – in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You can also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that established, you are wise to routinely review the docket and see what events have occurred by your counsel and the other party/counsel. In addition feel at ease getting in touch with your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the issue, understanding you’ll likely be charged for these communications.
3. QUESTION: Exactly how do I pick an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal issues are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and usually are just as complex. To safeguard your legal rights and remedies, the ideal practice is to study your area of need and research what law firms are accessible to help you. A referral from someone you know and regard can add a personal element to the plan to hire an attorney but shouldn’t be the singular reason counsel is picked. Research the lawyer’s background of training, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be urged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but can also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be contemplated with exactly the same degree of thought and consideration as that given to the selection of a medical professional, accountant, financial expert or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I will need a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek legal guidance without delay. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; skipping those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a “pre-suit” period of time that allow you to take into account the legal issues and possible resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as quickly as possible is recommended.
5. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed site with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and solve all or a number of the concerns involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their counsel, and continue maintaining the confidential aspect of the conference to recommend 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 normally required in just about every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What kind of lawyer do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, attorneys may specialise in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer services in a few specific areas of law. Trial attorneys handle 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; others are delineated by statute, as in worker’s compensation. Any attorney should be able to discuss your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the need to seek advice from another in a specialized area.
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