When pursuing or defending against a case or legal matter in the state of Florida, one is best served by a Florida lawyer that is familiar with state and local laws and can most efficiently deal with your claim. Along with state-wide organizations of lawyers, specific organizations of Sarasota lawyers exist to deal with legal issues within Sarasota County. This is an invaluable resource for those with legal issues in Florida as they will not have to rely on a lawyer in another part of the state to handle their legal matters and can instead choose a local Sarasota lawyer.
What are some issues specific to Sarasota, Florida?
Sarasota is considered by some to be the epicenter of the 2008 real estate crash for poor credit practices by bank institutions and has had a high rate of foreclosures. As a result, many bankruptcy and property lawyers will be available for Sarasota residents that seek to either buy devalued property or settle finances as a result of the crash. Sarasota has also been the epicenter of a legal over an ordinance aimed at the homeless that outlawed sleeping on public or private property without permission.
What are organizations of Sarasota lawyers?
The Florida Bar is a mandatory membership organization for Florida lawyers and is the third largest Bar Association in America, with over 90,000 members. As an integrated Bar Association, they determine the standards of professionalism and ethics that all Florida lawyers must abide by. In addition, the Bar is responsible for discipline and sanctioning unethical or unprofessional attorneys. The FlaBar sets standards for continuing legal education and ethics panels for lawyers in the state. Most importantly, the Florida Bar maintains a Lawyer Referral Service that can connect residents to a Sarasota lawyer for a nominal fee.
The Sarasota County Bar Association is a voluntary organization that boasts the membership of most legal professionals in Sarasota. There are practice sections and a Young Lawyer’s Division for lawyers that are 36 or younger or have practiced law for less than 3 years. The SCBA maintains links to pro bono services and legal clinics that can assist Sarasota residents. Lastly, the SCBA has an expansive directory of all lawyers in Sarasota, which you can use as a tool for finding an appropriate lawyer for you needs.
How do I know my Sarasota lawyer is legitimate?
All individuals that practice law in the state of Florida must be active members of the integrated Florida Bar Association. If the individual claiming to be a lawyer cannot show proof of Bar Association membership, then this legal professional is very suspect. Although the court system will have mechanisms to prevent unauthorized persons from representing clients, certain legal services may be provided without the auspices of the court. This is why proof of Bar Association certification is necessary when seeking these services, to ensure that the service the lawyer will provide is professional, ethical and in compliance with Floridian law.
Picking a member of the Sarasota County Bar Association is also preferable as you will be assured that this lawyer is familiar with any unique municipal laws or judicial precedents applicable to Sarasota.
If you ever have doubts about the credentials of your Florida lawyer, ask to examine his or her credentials. If the lawyer cannot produce them, then you may want to seek out another lawyer that you feel comfortable working with.
The lawyer must be professional and above all impartial. If the lawyer appears to be saying only things that you want to hear or is otherwise disingenuous, then these are marks of a poor lawyer.
What are the typical rates of a Sarasota lawyer?
The type and nature of legal fees for Sarasota lawyers will vary from case to case. Flat fees are typical for performing a legal service that does not go to trial, such as mutual divorces and assessing legally binding documents. Flat fees may be combined with hourly fees for the use of the lawyer’s time and ancillary fees for the use of the lawyer’s staff, such as paralegals. Retainer fees involve setting aside a certain amount of fees into a billable retainer account that can be refilled at the lawyer’s discretion. This arrangement may become expensive if the case continues for a long period of time. Any lawyer or lawyer services that posts fees will generally offer a range, rather than a set figure, to reflect the variable outcome and length of court cases.
Contingency fees are typical of accident, negligence and malpractice cases. In this arrangement, the lawyer does not collect a fee unless there is a settlement or jury award. The lawyer’s cut can be either a lump sum or a percentage. Percentage contingency fees are the most common and give the lawyer the best incentive to win the best possible settlement. Be aware of other costs associated with these cases, such as legal document preparation fees.
Take advantage of free consultations when they are available to discuss potential fees and payment arrangements with Florida lawyers. The above fees do not consider court costs, which are also paid by the client. You may be able to arrange low cost and extended payment for legal services at the discretion of the attorney or law firm. There are also a number of low cost and pro bono services that the SCBA can connect you to if you feel you would qualify for such service.
There are several lawyer referral services for Florida lawyers, although none is more trusted than the Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service. The service will provide you with the name and address of a nearby lawyer who will charge $25 for a half hour initial consultation. There is no obligation at that point and the consultation is merely an evaluation of your case with an explanation of expected fees. There are also free panels for individuals that need lawyers that specialize in elder, AIDS and disability law. All lawyers participating in the LRS are in good standing with the FlaBar, have no outstanding complaints against them and will have professional liability insurance with limits of at least$100,000.
What are questions to ask Sarasota lawyers?
How does my case relate to Florida state and local Sarasota laws?
What are your fees and do you have alternate payment plans?
Are you an active member, in good standing, of the Florida Bar Association?
What roles do you play as a member?
Can I please have all fees in writing?
What are my chances of winning a settlement or at trial?
Can you refer me to another lawyer if you are unable to take my case?