TEPER LAW FIRM LLC
Following are some of the frequently asked questions we receive about law, attorneys, courts and pricing etc. Please take a look at them. If you have any further questions, please contact us for more information.
GENERAL FAQ (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)
Do I need a lawyer?
Although you have the right to represent yourself in all legal cases, representing yourself may not be a viable option for everyone. If you choose to go "pro se" which is Latin for "on your own behalf" and you do not know what relief to seek - you may be doing yourself a disservice. If you are facing a potentially contentious situation, and you are feeling overwhelmed or uninformed - it is important to have someone at your side to objectively and zealously represent your best interests.
Moreover, by representing yourself, you may be giving up important rights. You owe it to yourself and your family to make truly informed decisions with the benefit of an attorney.
Many legal proceedings are emotionally and financially challenging, and frequently decisions made during that time will affect your future. Before you decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you, consider all your options. Representing yourself may save you some money short term, but if you cannot protect your legal rights, you may suffer long standing consequences afterward. Also, depending on the facts and difficulty of your situation, you may not be able to adequately represent yourself and protect your long term needs.
There are some very specific situations where your risk of self-representation increases. In fact, if you are able to place a check mark next to more than three of the following statements, you may benefit from hiring an attorney to represent you.
Review the list below to help you assess the complexity of your situation.
> Criminal records exist
> There is evidence of criminal/neglectful behavior
> Mental illness
> Physical disability or other significant health issue
> Mental competency issues (example, Alzheimer's disease)
> One of the parties is emotionally unstable and prone to fits of rage and violence
> Illegal immigrant status
> Unfamiliarity with legal proceedings
> Lack of proficiency in English language
> Dispute of child custody/visitation/support
> Hiding assets
> Work for cash payments
> There is a dispute over property or assets
> Recently moved to another state or country
> Opposing party is disagreeable for the sake of it
> Opposing party's lawyer has become disagreeable or extremely aggressive, contentious or
> The case has already started and the judge has strongly encouraged you to hire a lawyer, or
really doesn't seem to be seeing things your way at all. return to top
Why would I need an attorney if so much information is available on the Internet for free?
While the internet is a great source of information, relying on legal information contained in a website as your only source of legal advice can cause serious problems. You do not know if the information provided is accurate, or up-to-date. Law is complex, complicated and ever changing. In U.S. law can differ from state to state. Filing a badly-prepared petition can delay or even destroy your chance at obtaining benefit or relief sought. An attorney has the necessary expertise to ensure that all your legal needs are met, and your legal documents are complete and well-prepared. return to top
What can a lawyer do for me?
Even simple legal proceeding may require many documents, and many entail at least one appearance before the judge. The lawyer's job is to help you through that process. It is the lawyer's responsibility to give you up-to-date information on applicable law and procedure. The lawyer acts as your advocate and objectively and zealously represents your best interests. return to top
What will I need for the initial consultation?
In order to make the most of your first consultation with an attorney, you should bring all relevant documents and information. The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people involved and documents, such as agreements, deeds, and contracts, will help the attorney understand your particular problem. Be prepared to explain your case completely and clearly. Sometimes writing down the important points in advance will help. return to top
What are your prices?
Each case is different and each client has individual needs. It is very difficult to name a price for legal services without analyzing the facts of a case and applicable law. The end price will depend on the complexity of the matter and the time spent working on the case.
Our office believes in explaining our billing practices in a detailed written retainer agreement that you will have an opportunity to read and discuss before signing. Every client receives a copy of the retainer agreement, and all family law clients additionally receive the Statement of Client Rights and Responsibilities. If possible, our office will provide an estimate or prospective costs upon request. return to top
What if I cannot afford an attorney?
If you cannot retain an attorney, you have a few options available to you. You may choose to represent yourself and go "pro se" or if you qualify you may be able to obtain representation from a legal aid center. These centers often offer free advice and representation to indigent clients. Also, you can contact your local bar association and ask for a list of attorneys willing to accept a case on a "pro bono" basis. Many attorneys perform volunteer work for the good of their community, and accept some cases free of charge.
Our office, for example, performs work for the South Jersey Legal Services. Also, if your case qualifies, many attorneys accept contingency fee cases. A contingency fee is normally payable only if the client is successful. It may be a percentage fee or a fixed fee. The most common type of contingency fee arrangements are in litigation and arbitration proceedings. Note that this is not a viable option in family law.
Be wary of non attorneys offering legal advice. First of all, such individuals might be engaging in unauthorized practice of law. Second of all, their advice may be inaccurate or just plainly wrong and harmful to your case. return to top
Do I need to wear a suit when I go to court?
No. You do not need to wear a suit. There is also no need to wear fancy or expensive clothes. However, you do have to dress up. You need to look neat and respectful, so wear something you would put on to go to a job interview or a religious ceremony. Remember that many judges are very traditional, and you do not want to offend a judge by wearing something disrespectful.
Our office recommends that clients with visible tattoos wear conservative clothing, and if possible try to cover up the most visible tattoos. We also do not recommend any clothing that can be distracting, such as low cut blouses, very short skirts, shorts, sneakers, spaghetti strap tops, or sports attire. return to top
Can I have copies of documents in my file?
Yes. Our office believes in keeping our clients informed. We will educate you about the progress in your case, and we will send you copies of correspondence and pleadings, along with a status report. return to top