In the event that you haven't before now, probably sometime in your own life you will have to retain the services of legal counsel. Thanks to my consultation with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, listed here is a listing of responses to common and important questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney in the county where the problem 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 important as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the local courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel away from area in which the matter takes place is cost of journey time. Some lawyers don't charge for travel, others give you a decreased rate or maintain a billable rate for all work performed. Clarify that question with each attorney consulted.
2. QUESTION: How may I make sure my lawyer is working on my case?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer contract should include a confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - month-to-month, quarterly, etc. You may even track your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that established, you're wise to occasionally review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. In addition feel comfortable contacting your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, knowing you'll likely be billed for these communications.
3. QUESTION: Just how do I select 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 complicated. To protect your rights and remedies, the very best practice is to study your area of need and research what attorneys are accessible to help you. A referral from someone you know and respect can add a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but shouldn't be the singular reason counsel is picked. Look into the attorney'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 can also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be contemplated with the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the selection of a doctor, accountant, financial expert or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I need a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek legal advice immediately. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve particular deadlines; missing those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that enable you to consider the legal issues and potential resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer at the earliest opportunity is advised.
5. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators should be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential aspect of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the cost 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 every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What type of law firm do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, lawyers may concentrate in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or provide services in several specific areas of law. Trial lawyers 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 very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker's compensation. Any attorney should be able to talk about your specific issue, determine if he or she is prepared to take care of such matters or inform you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialised area.
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