Want To Step Up Your Divorce Lawyer? You Need To Read This First


Assuming you have not before now, chances are that sometime in a lifetime you'll need to employ a lawyer. Thanks to my consultation with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, what follows is a variety of responses to frequent along with worthwhile questions.

1. QUESTION: How am I able to make certain my lawyer is working on my problems?
ANSWER: Every good lawyer monitors his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer contract 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 set up, you are wise to occasionally review the docket and see what activities have taken place by your counsel and the other party/counsel. In addition feel at ease getting in contact with your attorney at intervals to determine the status of the matter, knowing you will likely be charged for these communications.

2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney or lawyer in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers 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 essential as that attorney will have a level of comfort with the county courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One consideration in hiring a lawyer away from area wherein the matter takes place is cost of travel time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others give you a decreased rate or preserve a billable rate for all work conducted. Talk about that question with each attorney consulted.

3. QUESTION: How do I know if I need a lawyer or attorney?
ANSWER: If you have been recently served with a Summons and similar documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you really should endeavor to look for legal assistance now. Papers filed in court that start a lawsuit call for responses that involve specific deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could compromise your defense, reduce or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" period that allow you to consider the legal issues and possible resolution before a lawsuit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer at the earliest opportunity is advised.

4. QUESTION: What is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the case present at an agreed place with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the concerns involved. Mediators need to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their lawyer, and maintain the confidential aspect of the conference to inspire 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 in advance of the conference. Mediation is typically required in every case filed in court and before a trial is held.

5. QUESTION: What kind of law firm do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, attorneys may specialise in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law offices may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in a few precise areas of law. Trial lawyers deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle most matters. Some areas of law are extremely specialized, like bankruptcy or taxation; some are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any attorney should be able to go over your specific issue, determine if he/she is qualified to handle such matters or inform you of the need to speak with another in a specialized area.

6. QUESTION: Precisely how do I select an attorney or lawyer?
ANSWER: Legal subjects are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and can be just as complex. To protect your rights and remedies, the ideal practice is to investigate your area of need and research what law firms are accessible to assist you. A referral from someone you know and admire can bring a personal element to the decision to hire an law firm but really should not be the only reason counsel is chosen. Look into the lawyer's background of education, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help could be strengthening but may also limit or negate your recovery. Hiring a law firm should be considered with the exact same degree of thought and consideration as that directed at the selection of a doctor, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.

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