In the case you have not by now, probably sometime in your own lifetime you will need to retain an attorney at law. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here is a selection of answers to common as well as important questions.
1. QUESTION: How do I know if I require a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and comparable documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to find legal advice without delay. Papers filed in court that begin a lawsuit require responses that involve exact deadlines; skipping those deadlines could damage your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some issues by statute involve a “pre-suit” period that allow you to consider the legal issues and probable resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer immediately is advised.
2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney at law in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many attorneys practice in other counties and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter is being litigated is important as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the community courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in hiring legal counsel away from area wherein the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others give you a reduced rate or maintain a billable rate for all work conducted. Discuss that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: What is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed location with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and resolve all or some of the issues involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential aspect of the conference to inspire settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the cost of the mediation equally but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is typically required in just about every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.
4. QUESTION: What kind of attorney at law do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, attorneys may specialise in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or provide services in several unique areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are extremely specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, such as worker’s compensation. Any lawyer should be able to discuss your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to consult with another in a specialised area.
5. QUESTION: How can I be certain my lawyer is resolving my problems?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer agreement should include a confirmation of how the attorney bills his clients – monthly, quarterly, etc. You may also track your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you are wise to periodically review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. It’s also advisable to feel at ease contacting your lawyer at intervals to determine the status of the issue, understanding you will likely be charged for these communications.
6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal subjects are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and usually are just as complex. To safeguard your rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what law firms are around to help you. A recommendation from somebody you know and regard can bring a personal element to the plan to hire an attorney but shouldn’t be the exclusive reason counsel is picked. Research the lawyer’s background of training, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but can also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be contemplated with exactly the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a physician, accountant, financial expert or therapist.
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