Why Almost Everything You ve Learned About Divorce Lawyers Is Wrong And What You Should Know

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If perhaps you haven't before now, chances are that sometime in your life you'll need to seek the services of a lawyer. With the help of my interview with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, what follows is a number of responses to popular and worthwhile questions.

1. QUESTION: How will I be sure my lawyer is handling my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenses (costs). Your retainer agreement should include a affirmation of how the lawyer bills his clients - month-to-month, quarterly, etc. You can also track your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line access to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to routinely review the docket and see what changes have transpired by your attorney and the other party/counsel. Also feel at ease contacting your lawyer at intervals to determine the status of the matter, knowing you'll likely be charged for these communications.

2. QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney at law in the county where the case occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many lawyers practice in other counties and other states, depending on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county in which the matter is being litigated is crucial as that attorney will have a comfort level with the county courthouse personnel, lawyers (likely opposing lawyer) and judges. One consideration in hiring an attorney outside the area wherein the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some attorneys do not charge for travel, others offer a lowered rate or maintain a billable rate for all work conducted. Clarify that question with each attorney consulted.

3. QUESTION: How do I know if I will need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have been recently served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to look for legal guidance now. Documents filed in court that start a lawsuit require responses that involve particular deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could compromise your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some concerns 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.

4. QUESTION: What exactly is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a course of action whereby the parties to the matter present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a selected mediator to try and resolve all or a number of the issues involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial in between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential nature of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the fee of the mediation equally but other arrangements may be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is generally required in every case filed in court and before a trial is held.

5. QUESTION: What type of legal professional do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, lawyers may specialize in a certain or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, provide general legal needs or offer services in a few unique 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 extremely complex, like bankruptcy or taxation; others are delineated by statute, as in worker's compensation. Any lawyer can discuss your specific issue, determine if he or she is prepared to take care of such matters or advise you of the necessity to seek advice from another in a specialized area.

6. QUESTION: How do I pick an attorney?
ANSWER: Legal subjects are as vast as those in other sectors, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and tend to be just as complicated. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the best practice would be to study your area of need and research what attorneys are out there to work with you. A recommendation from someone you know and respect can bring a personal element to the plan to hire an law firm but shouldn't be the sole reason counsel is selected. Look into the attorney's background of education, experience and area(s) of practice. Asking important questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help can be strengthening but may also reduce or negate your recovery. Hiring a legal professional should be considered with exactly the same level of thought and consideration as that directed at the pick of a medical doctor, accountant, financial specialist or therapist.

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