1) Do I need an attorney? Is a consultation the same as hiring an attorney? Is there a cost for a consultation?
The best way to answer that question is to schedule a consultation. A consultation with an attorney is rarely a bad idea, especially when dealing with business matters. If you have a consultation with an attorney, it does not mean you have hired them to represent you. Consultations are a great tool to both understand the legal matter at hand, and to develop a plan, if there is a need, for moving forward. Consultations usually have a fee because you receive legal advice, but the fees are usually a discounted amount from the attorney’s typical rate, and are an inexpensive investment to protect yourself or your business. Fresh Legal Perspective charges $100.00 for a one-hour consultation with an attorney, and we can review your situation and provide advice on the best way to proceed.
An attorney cannot guarantee the outcome of any legal matter, so the final decision whether or not to hire an attorney is yours to make. If you would like background information on any attorney in the State of Florida, go to the Florida Bar website at https://www.floridabar.org/.
2) How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
Every attorney sets his or her own fee schedule. The attorney will not begin representation for a client until an engagement letter is signed. The engagement letter should outline the following: a) the services that the attorney will provide, b) an estimated amount of time that will be required to resolve the issue, if possible to determine, c) what will be required by the client, and d) the fee arrangement.
Typically there are three types of fee agreements that attorneys use. The first is an hourly rate. This means that the attorney will bill the client for all the time spent working on their legal issue. The attorney should provide the client with an invoice that shows the work that has been done and how much is owed by the client.
The second type of fee agreement is a flat fee. This is when the attorney charges the client an agreed upon amount for the work provided, regardless of the amount of time spent by the attorney. The engagement letter will often state whether the fee is owed prior to initiation of services or after the work has been completed.
The third type of fee agreement is a contingency fee. This is when the attorney receives their payment only after a favorable outcome for the client is reached. Generally, the attorney’s percentage is about 33.3% of the amount awarded to the client. However, the client should be aware that attorney’s costs (the amount spent on filing documents with the court, the hiring of process servers, postage, etc.) are usually not included in the attorney’s fees and will have to be reimbursed by the client in additional to the legal fees.
3) Can someone go to jail for a breach of contract?
Unless a criminal offense is committed, a person will not go to jail for a breach of contract. Breach of contract is what is known as a civil wrong, or tort. Civil wrongs do not usually result in jail time as punishment; typically only monetary or injunctive relief is awarded.
4) What should I do if I have been served with a summons?
You should make an appointment to meet with an attorney, so they can explain what the issue is and what you will need to do next. With most cases, there is a twenty day deadline before you must respond, so it is in your best interest to move as quickly as possible and schedule an appointment.
5) Will my case have to go to trial?
Many cases are resolved without going to trial. Attorneys understand that cost is a major factor when deciding to file a law suit, and they want to achieve the desired outcome at minimal hassle and expense to the client. The matter may or may not warrant litigation, but negotiation by attorneys or mediation may be a beneficial and cost-effective tool for resolving a dispute.
6) Will the attorney be my primary contact person?
Attorneys tend to be very busy, but they have a staff to help take care of all of the needs of a client should they not be directly available. It is quite typical for a paralegal to be the go-between the attorney and the client. While a paralegal may not offer any legal advice, they may provide updates to the client and relay messages or advice that was issued by the attorney.