Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a lawyer?
If the claim involves a corporation or limited liability company the answer is YES. Under Florida law, a corporation must be represented by an attorney unless the matter is filed in Small Claims court. Small claims are those cases in which the demand or value of property involved does not exceed $5,000.00, exclusive of costs, interest and attorney’s fees.
If the claim or defense is on behalf of an individual, you are not required to have an attorney, however based on the amount in controversy and the complexity of the matter, you should, at the very least, consult with an attorney and consider whether hiring an attorney is appropriate for you on any particular matter.
For non-litigation matters, such as contract and lease negotiations and drafting, corporate formation and other associated matters, there is no requirement that you hire a lawyer. You must decide whether to hire a lawyer on a case by case basis. Often the cost of hiring a lawyer to assist you with these matters is well worth the expense. Making sure your interests are protected at the time you enter into a contractual arrangement, can save you much aggravation and much greater expense later, should you be faced with litigation arising out of your agreements and your documents were not properly negotiated or drafted to best protect your interests.
Do you handle cases other than commercial and business related matters?
We are very proud of the fact that our clients and former clients typically call us whenever they, a friend or family member has a new matter, no matter what it may be. There are many other types of cases that we do handle for our clients and their referrals. We also have other attorneys to whom we often refer our clients, should their matter involve legal claims which we do not handle. This would include personal injury, medical malpractice, divorce, child custody, criminal and other matters. In this way, we can stay involved if the client desires and our clients trust that we have provided them with a referral to someone we consider to be very competent in that area of the law.
How long will my case take?
That question is very difficult to answer, as it often depends on how quickly both sides wish to move the case forward in order to resolve the matter. It will also depend on the docket of the individual judge assigned to your case.
How much money am I entitled to receive or how much can I be responsible to pay?
These types of questions can only be answered on a case by case basis. For a potential claimant, we conduct a lengthy interview with the client and others where necessary, and review all pertinent documents to be able to advise you of your potential claims. Often times there are legal claims that can be asserted on behalf of a claimant of which they may not even be aware. Our job initially is to evaluate the information available and determine what legal claims, if any, can be asserted on the client’s behalf. Our policy is to provide an honest assessment of the potential claim(s), its strengths and weaknesses and value, if possible. A client cannot make an intelligent decision on whether to pursue a claim or incur the expense associated with litigation, without that information.
For a Defendant, we will conduct a similar inquiry by reviewing the complaint filed against him/her or the corporate entity and provide an assessment as to the strength of the claim, potential financial exposure to the client, defenses that may be available, and the best way to proceed to defend the case.
How much time do I have to respond to a case after I have been sued and served papers?
The summons that is served upon you with the complaint will tell you exactly how much time you have to respond, to whom you must serve your response (the Plaintiff or the attorney), and the court where you must file your response. Typically, in most civil matters you have 20 days from the date you are served within which to serve your response. In eviction proceedings, you only have 5 days in addition to depositing the amount of your unpaid rent into the registry of the court. For Small Claims matters, you will be required to attend a Pre-trial Conference. The date, time and location of that hearing will be stated on the summons.
If you fail to serve a response prior to the time specified on your summons or fail to appear at the Small Claims Pre-trial Conference, a default may be entered against you, meaning the plaintiff will be entitled to recover the amount they claim you owe. You should therefore consult an attorney as soon as you can after being served with suit papers.
How much will it cost to hire you as my lawyer?
Most matters, both litigation and non-litigation, are handled at an hourly rate plus court costs and expenses. It is our policy however to work with our clients to arrive at a fee arrangement that is fair to both our clients and our firm. We will therefore evaluate each matter, if requested, on a case by case basis, to determine whether another type of fee arrangement would be acceptable. We are not adverse to considering creative ways to enable our clients to afford the representation they desire.