February 24, 2015
What is mediation?
Mediation is where both parties and their attorneys sit down with a neutral third party to help resolve disputes. The purpose is to open up lines of communication and explore possibilities of settlement in order to resolve the dispute without going to trial. The mediation conference is informal & confidential. The mediator has no decision-making authority and any agreement reached will be based upon mutual consent of the parties.
What are the goals of mediation?
To assist the parties in reaching their own acceptable agreement after exploring all choices available
To avoid the necessity of a court or jury imposed decision
To assist the parties in understanding the future impact their decisions may have
To reduce anxiety and negative effects of having to go before the court
To provide the opportunity for a less expensive and time-consuming conclusion than a trial
Do I need an attorney for mediation?
The neutral mediator is not authorized to give either party legal advice. Each party is urged to seek independent legal counsel. If both parties are informed as to their legal rights and obligations, the mediation process is more effective for the parties involved.
Why do I have to go to mediation?
Mediation is court-ordered, however the mediator used is most often chosen by agreement of the parties. The mediator helps identify issues, develop possible options, and conduct negotiations between the parties. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft a judgment to be taken before the court for entering after being reviewed by each party and their attorneys.
How much mediation cost?
The mediator’s fee is usually determined on an hourly basis. Generally both parties share the expense. Most local mediators charge between $125 and $250 per hour, with an additional hour billed as an administrative fee. Sometimes, state-subsidized mediation is an option at a reduced rate, but the effectiveness is not comparable to a private mediator.
For more information on your upcoming mediation, call our office at (904) 256-9195.
Navigating Your Attorney-Client Consultation
February 7, 2014
The attorney-client consultation is the beginning of a professional relationship that can be difficult due to the circumstances, but well worth it based on the results.
The consultation gives you and the attorney an opportunity to meet and exchange pertinent information. This often means you sharing your legal issue, and the attorney giving you legal advice as to how the case may be handled if retained. This advice may include legal strategies, defenses, fee agreements, costs, and potential outcomes. Just because you have arranged or attended a consultation with an attorney, you are not obligated you to hire them, or retain them for the entire course of your case.
Before a scheduling a legal consultation, please consider the following:
Timing. Be aware there are various time-frames to respond to court documents that begin upon your receipt. Consider these deadlines in selecting your attorney and the date for the consultation.
Preparation. In order for your consultation to be a productive and an efficient use of you and your attorney’s time, certain documents should be brought with you. Depending on your case, these items could include arrest reports, traffic citations, your driver’s license, court documents, pre-nuptial agreements, 3 years of tax returns, pay stubs, and/or bank statements. Please consult with the attorney or secretary before you arrive as to what these documents may be.
Honesty. The consultation and attorney-client relationship is one of confidence. Please do not let embarrassment, pride, guilt, or any other emotions, interfere with providing your attorney the information necessary to properly represent you. Surprises that arise later in the case may hinder your case and defenses.
Specificity. What date were you separated? How much have you contributed to the marital home? What time did you get home the night of alleged crime? In order to create accurate pleadings and craft strong legal arguments, your attorney needs specifics dates, times, names, and amounts.
Fees. Your attorney is entitled to compensation for the work done on your behalf unless he/she has agreed to take your case on pro bono. The agreement over fees should include a retainer price and/or hourly rate. Also be aware of any costs you may be responsible for such as process servers, summons, experts, and filings fees. Though the fees may seem high, you are hiring a professional with an advanced education and professional license that holds them as qualified to provide such services in your community. Their business also comes with operating expenses and employees, all of which are essential to provide you with the great legal services.
Most importantly, you are the boss of this relationship. The attorney’s job is to advise you, but you control the course of representation. If you are unhappy with the work of your attorney, please make him/her and their office aware so a determination of whether continued representation is appropriate.
For more information about attorneys in the State of Florida and additional resources for scheduling a consultation with a Florida attorney, please visit www.thefloridabar.org.
To schedule a consultation with Madelyn M. Pittman, call our office today at (904) 256-9195.