What You Don’t Know About Divorce Lawyers
If perhaps you have not already, chances are that sometime in your lifetime you’ll need to retain the services of legal counsel. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, below is a group of answers to typical as well as imperative questions.
1. QUESTION: Do I want 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 experience in the county wherein the matter is being litigated is crucial as that attorney will have a comfort level with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One matter in retaining legal counsel outside the area in which the matter takes place 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 performed. Talk about that question with each lawyer consulted.
2. QUESTION: How am I able to be sure my attorney is working on my case?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer monitors his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a statement of how the lawyer bills his clients – once a month, quarterly, etc. You may also track your case in some jurisidictions that offer on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to routinely review the docket and see what activities have transpired by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. In addition feel comfortable contacting your attorney at intervals to learn the status of the matter, understanding you will likely be billed for these interactions.
3. QUESTION: Just how do I pick an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal problems are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and are often just as perplexing. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the best practice would be to research your area of need and research what legal professionals are out there to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can bring a personal element to the plan to hire an law firm but really should not be the sole reason counsel is picked. Look into the lawyer’s background of training, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking important 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 considered with the same level of thought and consideration as that given to the choice of a medical doctor, accountant, financial expert or therapist.
4. QUESTION: How do I determine if I need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to find legal guidance now. Documents filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve particular deadlines; skipping 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 think about the legal issues and potential resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is recommended.
5. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed place with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and solve all or a number of the problems involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all participants and the litigation at issue, are to stay impartial amongst the parties and their lawyer, and continue maintaining the confidential nature of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Usually the parties share the cost of the mediation equally but other arrangements can be made if all parties are in agreement in advance of the conference. Mediation is typically required in every case filed in court and just before a trial is held.
6. QUESTION: What kind of legal professional do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, attorneys may concentrate in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer services in several unique areas of law. Trial lawyers deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law lawyers handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are extremely complex, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, like worker’s compensation. Any lawyer can talk about your specific issue, determine if he or she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the need to speak with another in a specialized area.
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