In the instance that you haven’t previously, chances are that sometime in a lifetime you’ll need to retain legal counsel. Thanks to my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, this is a number of answers to very common as well as fundamental questions.
1. QUESTION: How do I know if I require a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to find legal guidance without delay. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve particular deadlines; missing those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a “pre-suit” time period that enable you to consider the legal issues and possible resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer immediately is advised.
2. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many attorneys practice in other counties and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county in which the matter is being litigated is crucial as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the local courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One consideration in hiring legal counsel away from area wherein the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some lawyers don’t charge for travel, others give you a reduced rate or maintain a billable rate for all work conducted. Discuss that question with each attorney consulted.
3. QUESTION: What exactly is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the issues involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial between the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential nature of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the fee 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 before a trial is held.
4. QUESTION: What type of law firm do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, lawyers may concentrate in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in a few specific areas of law. Trial lawyers deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle separation and divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle nearly all matters. Some areas of law are very complex, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker’s compensation. Any lawyer can talk about your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the need to consult with another in a specialized area.
5. QUESTION: How can I be certain my lawyer is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer monitors his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients – month-to-month, quarterly, etc. You may even keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you’re wise to periodically review the docket and see what events have transpired by your counsel and the other party/counsel. It’s also advisable to feel comfortable getting in touch with your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, knowing you will likely be charged for these interactions.
6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal difficulties are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and tend to be just as complex. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the very best practice is to study your area of need and research what legal professionals are around to assist you. A referral from someone you know and admire can add a personal element to the plan to hire an lawyer but should not be the only reason counsel is chosen. Look into the lawyer’s background of training, 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 lawyer should be considered with the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a medical professional, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.
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