There are many options to find a Tampa attorney and there are many suitable ways to find suitable legal representation. In addition to this website, which can help you find a Tampa attorney through the Find Attorneys function, there are also a number of Bar Associations and Lawyer Referral Services that serve the general public. One may even be able to receive pro bono services if they meant certain thresholds to qualify.
What are organizations of Tampa attorneys?
The Florida Bar is a mandatory membership organization for Tampa attorneys that 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 also sets the standards of ethical conduct and mandates Continuing Legal Education courses for all lawyers in the state. Most importantly, the Florida Bar maintains a Lawyer Referral Service that the public can use to find a Tampa lawyer.
The primary local bar association for Tampa attorneys is the Hillsborough County Bar. For a nominal membership fee, the HCBA offers sectional membership, typically at no fee for joining members, with the exception of family law, trial lawyers and environmental land use lawyers. Members will also be eligible to be a part of the Lawyer Referral services and the Ask-A-Lawyer service for Tampa residents. Additional benefits of membership are optional court access cards to expedite entry into the local courthouse and the ability to complete CLE courses through this organization. The general public is also allowed to attend CLE seminars.
How do I know my Tampa attorney 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. Do not accept services from an unlicensed legal professional as you will have no guarantee that they work they complete will be legitimate or if that individual will behave ethically. Remember that legitimate lawyers will afford clients the right to file complaints with the FlaBar and enter arbitration if necessary. You will have no recourse if you are defrauded by an unlicensed lawyer.
Picking a member of the Hillsborough 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 the city of Tampa. You may also feel comfortable working with a member of the other more specialized bar associations for highly technical legal matters.
If you ever have doubts about the credentials of your Tampa attorney, ask to examine those credentials. If the lawyer cannot produce them, then you may want to seek out another lawyer that you feel comfortable working with. A call to the Florida Bar can also help verify if a lawyer is legitimate and may practice law in Florida.
What are the typical rates of Tampa attorneys?
You may be charged a flat fee by a Tampa attorney for a legal service that does not require case to go to trial. This includes document preparation, consultations and alternate dispute resolution. You should determine if your legal issue can be settled out of court or if you merely require an unbundled legal service. This will save you a significant amount of money.
Hourly fees generally begin to accrue for the use of the Tampa attorney’s time. These fees may be charged to a retainer account. The retainer account is set up at the start of legal services as a trust account. This account is billed by the Tampa attorney for all services rendered and can be refilled at the lawyer’s discretion.
Contingency fees are typical of accident, negligence and malpractice cases. These consultations are typically free. In this arrangement, the lawyer does not collect a fee unless there is a settlement or jury award. Florida has specific and extensive rules on contingency fees including limiting the contingency fee on settlements to 33.3% with a settlement under $1 million and 30% for amounts between $1 and $2 million. Jury awards exceeding $2 million are limited to 20%. If the amount of damages must be determined in court, the contingency fee will be 20% for amounts between $1 and $2 million and 15% for amounts greater than two million.
There are conditional contingency fees that can be assessed for post-trial judgments, and limitations on fees collected from medical malpractice claims. When working out a contingency arrangement with a Tampa attorney, ensure that you are informed on the various rules regarding contingency arrangements.
Finding a Tampa attorney
Tampa attorneys are encouraged by the state to provide pro bono legal services as part of their professional responsibility. The usual suggestion is 20 hours of service or a $350 donation to a legal aid service. The pro bono arrangement must be free from the start of the relationship with the client. Training is available through legal aid services to help lawyers work with indigent clients if they lack the experience to do so.
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 Tampa attorneys?
How does my case relate to Florida state and local Tampa 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?