If you haven’t already, probably sometime in your lifetime you will need to retain a lawyer. Thanks to my discussion with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, what follows is a listing of responses to popular along with important questions.
1. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should endeavor to seek out legal assistance without delay. Papers filed in court that start a lawsuit necessitate responses that involve specific deadlines; missing those deadlines could compromise your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a “pre-suit” period of time that enable 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 advised.
2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney at law in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other counties and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county wherein the matter is being litigated is essential as that attorney will have a comfort level with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One thing to consider in hiring legal counsel away from area in which the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers don’t charge for travel, others offer a lowered rate or preserve a billable rate for all work performed. Discuss that question with each attorney consulted.
3. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and resolve all or some of the concerns involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential structure of the conference to inspire settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the charge of the mediation evenly but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is normally required in every case filed in court and before a trial is held.
4. QUESTION: What kind of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, attorneys may specialise in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or provide services in several unique areas of law. Trial attorneys handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, as in worker’s compensation. Any attorney can discuss your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialised area.
5. QUESTION: How may I make sure my lawyer is handling my problems?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer agreement should include a affirmation of how the attorney bills his clients – month-to-month, quarterly, etc. You may even keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that established, you’re wise to periodically review the docket and see what events have taken place by your counsel and the other party/counsel. It’s also advisable to feel at ease getting in touch with your attorney at intervals to learn the status of the matter, knowing you’ll likely be charged for these interactions.
6. QUESTION: Just how do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal difficulties are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and tend to be just as complicated. 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 recommendation from somebody you know and regard can add a personal element to the consideration to hire an lawyer but shouldn’t be the exclusive reason counsel is selected. Research the attorney’s background of training, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be urged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but can also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be considered with exactly the same level of thought and consideration as that directed at the selection of a physician, accountant, financial expert or therapist.
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