Shhhh... Listen! Do You Hear The Sound Of Divorce Lawyers?

In the case you have not by now, chances are that sometime in your own life you'll have to hire a lawyer. With the help of my interview with Tampa Attorney Christina Mesa, below is a selection of answers to popular and fundamental questions.

1. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the issue occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers or attorneys practice in other jurisdictions and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having knowledge in the county wherein the matter will be litigated is important as that attorney will have a comfort level with the community courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One matter in hiring legal counsel outside the area in which the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers do not charge for travel, others give you a lowered rate or preserve a billable rate for all work carried out. Talk about that question with each attorney consulted.

2. QUESTION: How will I be sure my attorney is handling my case?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer arrangement should include a affirmation of how the attorney bills his clients - in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You can also track your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you're wise to periodically review the docket and see what activities have transpired by your lawyer and the other party/counsel. In addition feel at ease getting in touch with your attorney at intervals to ascertain the status of the matter, understanding you will likely be billed for these communications.

3. QUESTION: Exactly how do I pick an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal difficulties are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and usually are just as perplexing. To protect your rights and remedies, the very best practice would be to investigate your area of need and research what lawyers are around to work with you. A recommendation from someone you know and respect can bring a personal element to the consideration to hire an attorney but should not be the exclusive reason counsel is picked. Look into the attorney's background of training, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but can also restrict or negate your recovery. Hiring a lawyer should be considered with the exact same level of thought and consideration as that given to the pick of a medical doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.

4. QUESTION: How do I know if I will need a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to seek legal assistance immediately. Documents filed in court that commence a lawsuit require responses that involve specific deadlines; missing those deadlines could damage your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some concerns by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that enable you to consider the legal issues and possible resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer immediately is recommended.

5. QUESTION: What is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed local with their counsel (if retained) and a chosen mediator to try and solve all or a number of the concerns involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial amongst the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential structure of the conference to encourage settlement and resolution. Generally the parties share the cost of the mediation equally but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is normally required in every case filed in court and before a trial is held.

6. QUESTION: What type of law firm do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other businesses, lawyers may specialize 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 lawyers handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and related matters; general practitioners handle nearly all matters. Some areas of law are very specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, such as worker's compensation. Any attorney can go over your particular issue, determine if he/she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the need to consult with another in a specialised area.

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