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In the instance that you haven't by now, probably sometime in a lifetime you will want to employ a lawyer. With the help of my discussion with Tampa Lawyer Christina Mesa, here is a variety of answers to common and fundamental questions.

1. QUESTION: How am I able to make sure my lawyer is resolving my issues?
ANSWER: Every good attorney keeps track of his time (fees) and expenditures (costs). Your retainer contract should include a confirmation of how the attorney bills his clients - in advancemonthly, quarterly, etc. You can also keep track of your case in some jurisidictions that provide on-line accessibility to case dockets. If the county has that available, you are wise to periodically 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 learn the status of the issue, understanding you'll likely be charged for these communications.

2. QUESTION: Do I have to hire an attorney at law in the county where the problem occurs?
ANSWER: No. Many attorneys practice in other jurisdictions and other states, based on their licensure for the latter. Having experience in the county wherein the matter is being litigated is important as that lawyer will have a level of comfort with the community courthouse personnel, attorneys (likely opposing counsel) and judges. One thing to consider in retaining a lawyer away from area in which the matter occurs is cost of journey time. Some lawyers don't charge for travel, others give you a lowered rate or maintain a billable rate for all work performed. Clarify that question with each attorney consulted.

3. QUESTION: How do I know if I will need a lawyer?
ANSWER: If you have been served with a Summons and related documents (Complaint, Petition, Motion), you should really endeavor to find legal guidance without delay. Papers filed in court that start a lawsuit call for responses that involve specific deadlines; missing out on those deadlines could damage your defense, restrict or avoid your recovery. Some matters by statute involve a "pre-suit" period of time that enable you to take into account the legal issues and probable resolution before a suit is filed. Similarly, seeking a lawyer as soon as possible is recommended.

4. QUESTION: Exactly what is mediation?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby the parties to the issue present at an agreed area with their counsel (if retained) and a decided on mediator to try and solve all or some of the problems involved. Mediators are to be unrelated to all parties and the litigation at issue, are to remain impartial between the parties and their counsel, and maintain the confidential nature of the conference to recommend settlement and resolution. Typically the parties share the charge of the mediation evenly but other arrangements might be made if all parties are in agreement ahead of the conference. Mediation is typically required in every case filed in court and before a trial is held.

5. QUESTION: What type of attorney at law do I need?
ANSWER: Again, like other sectors, lawyers may concentrate in a specific or more than one area. Similarly, law firms may specialize, offer general legal needs or offer services in several precise areas of law. Trial attorneys deal with cases involving lawsuits; family law attorneys handle divorce cases, child custody/visitation, child support, alimony and associated matters; general practitioners handle almost 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 should be able to discuss your specific issue, determine if he or she is prepared to handle such matters or advise you of the need to speak with another in a specialized area.

6. QUESTION: How do I pick an attorney at law?
ANSWER: Legal troubles are as vast as those in other industries, such as medicine, construction, finance, etc. and might be just as perplexing. To protect your legal rights and remedies, the best practice is to research your area of need and research what law firms are around to assist you. A referral from somebody you know and respect can bring a personal element to the consideration to hire an lawyer but shouldn't be the exclusive reason counsel is chosen. Look into the attorney's background of training, expertise and area(s) of practice. Asking questions should be encouraged in this process. Self-help can be empowering 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 directed at the selection of a medical doctor, accountant, financial consultant or therapist.

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