Law Office of Melanie Murray Mfume, LLC -

FAQs
 
Do I need an attorney?
 
How do I pick an attorney?
 
Do you offer consultations?
 
How can I get the most from my consultation with the attorney?
 
If I have a consultation with the attorney, does that mean that I am now
represented by that attorney?
 
How long will this lawsuit take to finish?
 
Why do I have to have evidence?
 
What is discovery and why am I being asked for information?
 
I want to keep my legal fees as low as possible. Can I help the attorney
work on my case?
 
 
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Do I need an attorney?
 
Yes, especially if you are dealing with issues that are important to you. When there are situations involving children (custody, support, visitation), domestic violence, losing your home, purchasing a home, criminal charges, binding contracts, etc., you need to have an attorney representation to ensure that your interests are protected and your case is being presented in the light most favorable to you. It can be very difficult to be objective about your own case particularly when you are not familiar with what to expect in court or how the process works.
 
Many clients think that going to court is going to be like it is on television. In real life, litigation takes time and there are rules of procedure and evidence that must be
followed.  Unless you have a case in small claims or district court, it could be months before you get to trial.
 
Cases are won based on evidence, not necessarily just verbal recitations of "what happened".  Again, if you are not familiar with the rules of procedure and evidence and you do not know how to gather and present your evidence at trial, you risk losing your case.
 
How do I pick an attorney?
 
Picking an attorney is just like picking any other kind of professional. Do your
homework! Research the attorney that you are considering hiring. Ask for referrals
from other attorneys and friends. Does the attorney seem to be interested in taking your case? Is the attorney explaining the issues so that you understand?  Do you feel that the attorney understands your position? Don't assume that because an attorney is licensed to practice law, he/she can handle your case matter. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Go with your gut! If it doesn't feel right, don't hire that attorney.
 
Do you offer consultations?
 
Yes, we offer free 20 minute phone consultations. Generally, we prefer to do initial
consultations by phone before scheduling an in-person consultation. We are happy
to schedule after hours and weekend consultations as well.
 
How can I get the most from my consultation with the attorney?
 
Be prepared! Gather all documentation that is relevant to your case and have
it available to fax, email or mail to the attorney before the consultation. Prepare a concise summary of events for the attorney with relevant dates, places and people. If you are a party to a case, know your case number. If you do not have all of the pleadings for your case, go to the clerk's office in the court where your case was filed and get copies of all documents in the file (note: there will be a copy fee). 
 
If I have a consultation with the attorney, does that mean that I am now
represented by that attorney?
 
No.  Unless you sign a Retainer Agreement and pay a retainer fee (if applicable),
neither the attorney, nor the law office, is representing you in your matter.
 
How long will this lawsuit take to finish?
 
The major phases of a lawsuit are: 1) filing of the complaint; 2) response to the
complaint; 3) discovery; 4) mediation (if applicable); 5) pre-trial preparation; and 6) trial. 
Depending on how many motions are filed during this process (and depending on where you are in the process), a typical case track will last approximately 8-10 months unless the parties agree to settle the case in advance of trial.
 
Why do I have to have evidence?
 
Preparing for trial is a bit like baking a cake - if you don't have all of the ingredients necessary to make the cake, you won't end up with a cake.  In litigation, if you don't have all of the evidence that you need to prove what you have alleged in your case (whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant), then you won't have proven the underlying elements of your case and you won't prevail.
 
Simply put, a baker can't make a cake without the required ingredients any more than a judge can rule in your favor without the required evidence.
 
What is discovery and why am I being asked for information?
 
In litigation, all parties are entitled to discovery from the other parties in the case.  Discovery is the process of gathering information from the other parties to use as potential evidence at trial. If discovery requests are sent to you, you are obligated to respond to the requests within a certain time frame (usually 30 days from the date that you receive the request). If you send discovery requests to the other parties, they are obligated to respond to your requests within a certain time frame (usually 30 days).  Any party that does not timely respond to a discovery request is subject to sanctions from the court. 
 
Discovery requests include:
  • Interrogatories (requires written responses to questions)
  • Requests to Production of Documents (requires the production of tangible documents)
  • Requests for Admissions (requires that the party admit or deny the statement made in the request)
  • Depositions
 
 
I want to keep my legal fees as low as possible. Can I help the attorney
work on my case?
 
While your attorney will undoubtedly appreciate your offer, allowing a client to assist
in preparing the case is never a good idea. Attorneys are trained to research, read and write objectively and effectively. Attorneys have access to case law databases that non-attorneys will not have access too. Most importantly, attorneys are trained to be objective. The
best way for a client to assist his/her attorney is to be responsive when the
attorney makes a request for documentation or information. Keep your appointments
and show up on time.