Divorce Lawyer Exposed

If you haven't by now, chances are that sometime in your life you'll have to retain legal counsel. Thanks to my interview with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, here's a selection of answers to typical along with important questions.

1. QUESTION: How can I be sure my attorney is working on my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney accounts for his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer agreement should include a confirmation of how the attorney bills his clients - up front, quarterly, etc. You may also track your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to occasionally review the docket and see what events have occurred by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. It's also advisable to feel comfortable getting in touch with your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the issue, understanding you will likely be charged for these interactions.

2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney at law in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other jurisdictions and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is essential as that lawyer will have a comfort level with the neighborhood courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in retaining legal counsel away from area in which the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some attorneys don't charge for travel, others offer a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work conducted. Talk about that question with each lawyer consulted.

3. QUESTION: How do I determine if I need a legal professional?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to find legal assistance now. Documents filed in court that commence a lawsuit call for responses that involve particular deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could damage your defense, limit or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that allow you to consider the legal issues and possible resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is advised.

4. QUESTION: Precisely what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed local with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and resolve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators should be unrelated to all participants 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. Usually the parties share the fee 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 every case filed in court and prior to a trial is held.

5. QUESTION: What type of attorney do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, attorneys may concentrate in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer services in a few specific areas of law. Trial lawyers handle cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle nearly all matters. Some areas of law are very complex, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any attorney can talk about your particular issue, determine if he or she is qualified to handle such matters or advise you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialized area.

6. QUESTION: Exactly how do I select an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal matters are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and usually are just as complicated. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to research your area of need and research what law firms are out there to assist you. A recommendation from someone you know and regard can add a personal element to the consideration to hire an law firm but really should not be the only reason counsel is selected. Look into the lawyer's background of training, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking basic questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be empowering but can 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 pick of a doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.

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