Assuming you haven't previously, probably sometime in your own life you will need to retain an attorney at law. With the help of my interview with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, what follows is a group of answers to very common along with worthwhile questions.
1. QUESTION: How can I be certain my lawyer is handling my problems?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - up front, quarterly, etc. You may even track your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you're wise to occasionally review the docket and see what changes have taken place by your counsel and the other party/counsel. In addition feel at ease getting in contact with your lawyer at intervals to determine the status of the matter, understanding you'll likely be charged for these interactions.
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 jurisdictions and other states, based 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 community courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining a lawyer away from area in which the matter occurs is cost of travel time. Some lawyers don't charge for travel, others give you a lowered rate or maintain a billable rate for all work conducted. Talk about that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: How do I know if I require a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have already been served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to seek legal assistance without delay. Documents filed in court that start a lawsuit require responses that involve particular deadlines; missing those deadlines could compromise your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" time period that enable you to consider the legal issues and potential resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer as soon as possible is recommended.
4. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed site with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and solve all or a number of the problems involved. Mediators should be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial in between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential aspect of the conference to inspire settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the fee of the mediation equally but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is generally required in just about every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.
5. QUESTION: What type of legal professional do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, lawyers may specialise in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or provide services in a few specific areas of law. Trial lawyers handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle 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; others are delineated by statute, such as worker's compensation. Any attorney should be able to talk about your particular issue, determine if he/she is qualified to take care of such matters or advise you of the necessity to speak with another in a specialised area.
6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I pick an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal subjects are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as complicated. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what attorneys are around to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can add a personal element to the consideration to hire an lawyer but shouldn't be the only reason counsel is picked. Look into the attorney's background of schooling, practical experience and area(s) of practice. Asking a lot of questions should be urged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but may also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be contemplated with the same level of thought and consideration as that directed at the selection of a doctor, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.
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