In the case you have not previously, chances are that sometime in your lifetime you will have to retain an attorney at law. With the help of my consultation with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, listed here is a number of responses to very common and important questions.
1. QUESTION: How do I know if I will need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have been recently served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to look for legal assistance right away. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve specific deadlines; missing those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some issues 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 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 experience in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is important as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One consideration in retaining a lawyer outside the area wherein the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers don’t charge for travel, others give you a reduced rate or maintain a billable rate for all work carried out. Clarify that question with each lawyer consulted.
3. QUESTION: Exactly 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 selected mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the problems involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential structure of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the cost of the mediation evenly but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is usually required in just about every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.
4. QUESTION: What kind of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, attorneys may specialize in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer you services in several unique areas of law. Trial attorneys handle 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 very complex, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, like worker’s compensation. Any attorney should be able to discuss your specific issue, determine if he/she is qualified to take care of such matters or inform you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialized area.
5. QUESTION: How can I make sure my attorney is handling my problems?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a confirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients – once a month, quarterly, etc. You may also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that supply on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you are wise to occasionally review the docket and see what events have taken place by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. You should also feel at ease getting in contact with your lawyer at intervals to ascertain the status of the issue, knowing you will likely be billed for these interactions.
6. QUESTION: Exactly how do I select an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal dilemmas are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as complex. To protect your rights and remedies, the ideal practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what lawyers are available to help you. A referral from someone you know and admire can bring a personal element to the plan to hire an law firm but should not be the sole reason counsel is selected. Research the lawyer’s background of training, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be urged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but can also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be contemplated with the exact same level of thought and consideration as that directed at the selection of a doctor, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.
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