Know This Before Hiring A Lawyer-Very Important Questions And Answers

Assuming you have not by now, chances are that sometime in your own life you will want to employ an attorney at law. Thanks to my consultation with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here's a selection of answers to very common as well as important questions.

1. QUESTION: How do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal matters are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and can be just as complex. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the ideal practice is to research your area of need and research what lawyers are out there to help you. A referral from someone you know and respect can bring a personal element to the consideration to hire an attorney but really should not be the only reason counsel is chosen. Look into the attorney's background of training, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking a lot of questions should be urged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but can also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be contemplated with the same degree of thought and consideration as that directed at the pick of a physician, accountant, financial advisor or therapist.

2. QUESTION: How do I know if I require a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have recently been served with a Summons and associated documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to look for legal advice immediately. Papers filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve exact deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could compromise your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" time period that enable you to think about the legal issues and possible resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is advised.

3. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed location with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and resolve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential nature of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Generally 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 normally required in just about every case filed in court and before a trial is held.

4. QUESTION: What kind of attorney at law do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other industries, lawyers may concentrate in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer services in several precise 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 almost all matters. Some areas of law are very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any attorney should be able to talk about your specific issue, determine if he/she is prepared to handle such matters or advise you of the need to seek advice from another in a specialised area.

5. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other counties and other states, based upon on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county in which the matter will be litigated is crucial as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the local courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining a lawyer away from area in which the matter takes place is cost of journey time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others give you a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work conducted. Clarify that question with each lawyer consulted.

6. QUESTION: How am I able to make sure my lawyer is handling my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney monitors his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a confirmation of how the attorney bills his clients - once a month, quarterly, etc. You may also track your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that set up, you're wise to periodically review the docket and see what activities have transpired by your counsel and the other party/counsel. You should also feel comfortable getting in touch with your lawyer at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, knowing you'll likely be billed for these communications.

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