How To Find a Good Lawyer Online.

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You’re in a bind and you need a lawyer. But where do you even start looking? Online, of course! But while you can find a lot of lawyers online, how do find a good lawyer this way?


Start by figuring out what kind of lawyer you need. While some lawyers may specialize in business law, that might not be too helpful if you need a divorce or were injured by someone else’s carelessness. You can always go to your favorite search engine and search for a lawyer that handles your type of case. Try entering “Lawyer (your type of case) (your state).” That will bring up a list of lawyers in your state that specialize in what you need.


Okay, so now you have a list. But how do you narrow it down? Randomly picking a lawyer from that list is no better than randomly picking one out of the phone book. Start narrowing the field by looking at the individual lawyers’ websites. Those sites will contain more information about their areas of expertise and their experience. Start looking for a few that fit your needs. Make sure you pick a few; don’t narrow your field to one lawyer just yet.


Once you have your short list of lawyers that seem to fit your needs, it’s time to check out what other people have to say. Their websites are their ads, and, of course, tell you all the positives. But you want to know what their clients think. You want to know their track record. You want to know them. Again with the help of your favorite search engine, search specifically for that lawyer or that law firm. See if anyone has posted a review.  See if your potential lawyer has been featured in an article or participated in a high-profile case.


When you are reading reviews, though, never place too much weight in any one review. Look for long-term trends. Are the majority of reviewers happy with their result? With any overly positive or overly negative review, be suspicious of the motives and the objectivity of that reviewer. You should also check the Bar Association webpage and see if your potential lawyer has been reprimanded for anything.


After you’ve done your online research, your short list should be very short. Now is the time to abandon the internet and start calling lawyers. Before you call, decide what you want to ask. Have a few specifics of your case ready so you can ask detailed questions and get a real feel for how this lawyer will handle your case. Once you’ve made some inquiries, you might only have one or two lawyers left on your list.


Before you hire one of them, you should make a point to meet them in person. It takes time, but in the end it could mean the difference between getting the lawyer that can best represent your interest and just getting a lawyer. Starting your search online is a great way to begin, but ending it online leaves out a vital part of the lawyer-client relationship: the relationship.

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What Makes up a Legally Binding Document?

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A document that two or more people sign and notarize is legally binding and is one form of agreement that can be upheld in a court of law. In fact, any agreement between two parties can be enforced legally, whether the contract made was verbal or written.


However, a signed document is valuable proof that such an agreement exists and that both parties have agreed to the same terms. In the absence of such a document, it’s difficult to determine exactly which conditions were agreed upon in the event the two parties remember the terms differently.


The document that describes the agreement is your contract. When both parties fully understand and agree to the terms outlined in that contract, each will signify his or her acceptance by signing it. Even if the agreement has not been notarized, the signatures alone legally bind both parties to the terms in the contract,


Having the contract notarized provides evidence that each party actually signed the document. Since a notary must witness the signatures, no one can claim that his or her signature was forged or otherwise illicitly obtained. Furthermore, the document bears a notary’s mark and seal. A notarized document is a more secure way of signing the contract, but the contract itself is still legally binding with or without being notarized.


Wording your document is another story, however. Once signed, this document becomes the entire scope of the agreement. If something is not included in the document, it does not exist in the agreement. The wording does not make the document more or less legally binding, but it does clarify exactly what you are legally bound to do.

A vague or poorly worded contract leaves room for interpretation, and more dangerously, misinterpretation.


Regardless of poor or inadequate wording, the contract is still legally binding and can be enforced by a court of law, but in court the judge must interpret the terms that were documented. Without clearly written terms and details, the judge may construe them differently than you originally intended them. More specific terms create less chance that a judge would favor the opposing party’s portrayal of the agreement over yours.


A good contract will describe in detail the offer, the acceptance of the offer, the value or payment to be exchanged for the offered product or service, and the timeframe in which the transaction will take place. The more clearly each of these items is documented in the contract, the easier it will be to enforce the terms in court.


If you are creating your own contract without the advice of a lawyer, make your wording clear and easy to understand. Do not try to add fancy legal or Latin terms unless both parties fully understand them and their legal ramifications. Contracts do not need to be fancy or use long, intricate words and phrases to be effective. The most effective contract will demonstrate that both parties entered into the agreement in full understanding of each of the terms set forth.


One point to note, however, is that no matter how well worded your contract is, and no matter how specific the terms, if the contract involves any type of illegal activity, it is not enforceable in court. No party can make a contract to break the law.

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I Want to Take Someone to Court in Pennsylvania, but I Live in a Different State. Can This Be Done?

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Where you take someone to court depends on a few things, but not on where you live. There are several different factors that determine where you can take a person to court, including where that person lives, where the event or dispute about which you are suing took place, and whether that person was acting on behalf of a company. As long as your case meets one of these criteria, then yes, you can sue the person in Pennsylvania.


If you are suing a person who has hurt or wronged you and you sue them in small claims or state court, then you can take them to court in the state in which they live or in the state in which they wronged or hurt you. These courts only handle local cases. So if your defendant lives in Pennsylvania, you can sue him or her there.


If they committed the act about which you are suing them or your dispute with them arose in Pennsylvania, you can sue them there. If this person does not live in Pennsylvania and the event or dispute over which you are suing did not happen in Pennsylvania, then you cannot sue them there. The location of the lawsuit must be related to the defendant who wronged you or the location of the event where you were wronged.


When you sue someone, the court will serve that person with a summons informing him or her of your complaint and that they are being sued. The person must be served with the papers in the state in which they are being sued. So even if you are able to sue someone in Pennsylvania, if they are never within state limits to receive the summons, your case cannot proceed. You would need to sue them in their home state. Exceptions would be if your lawsuit involved a motor vehicle incident or an out of state landlord who owns property in the state. Then they can be served out of state.


If the person you wish to sue lives in Pennsylvania, your first step would be to file a complaint in that person’s home county. Some counties may allow you to send paperwork through the mail, but at some point you will need to travel to the site of your lawsuit. Take travel time and expense into consideration as you pursue your suit, and keep your receipts. Be sure to include any applicable court costs in your suit, such as fees for serving the summons and filing the complaint.


If this person was acting on behalf of a company and your lawsuit is against the company, then there is a slightly different set of rules. If the company is licensed to do business in Pennsylvania and has a presence in that state — a store, an office, a warehouse, or any other facility — then you can sue that company in Pennsylvania.


Even if the person’s headquarters is in another state, as long as you can provide a valid in-state address for the court to serve the defendant, you can sue them in that state. But if the company is completely based in another state and has no presence in Pennsylvania, then you need to sue them where they are located.

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When to get an attorney and when not to get one!

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To Hire or Not to Hire?


“Your Honor, I object!” How many times have you heard that on a TV show? Often times the judge’s response is along the lines of “On what grounds?” It is then the attorney’s job to explain why he thinks what the other attorney is doing is wrong. The reasons can range anywhere from leading the witness, to badgering the witness, to showing off. The fact of the matter is, however, that it is the attorneys who know what to look for in these cases.


It is their job, and they have received a high level of training in order to make themselves qualified for the position of defending you. The question many people ask themselves, especially in today’s economy, is “when do I get an attorney involved?” The truth is, attorneys are expensive, and many times people don’t see a need for them.


If a person has the time to do his own research and the case is not a serious one, a diligent person could probably run the case mostly on his own. But how many people have the time to thoroughly do the necessary research? How many people even know where to start when it comes to researching their case?


Most of the time, people who try to run their case on their own tend to create a bigger mess than they had to begin with, and wind up hiring a lawyer in the end anyway just to clean up the mess for them. When this happens, fixing the mess often leads to more expenses than would have normally been incurred, and the client would have been better off hiring an attorney from the start.


Some of the benefits of hiring a lawyer are:


  • Getting the work done: That is, after all, what attorneys are being paid to do. They have the resources and the time to focus on the research for your case and have a vast amount of knowledge regarding different cases, so they generally know what they are doing.


  • Resources: Have you ever tried to work your full time job while trying to learn something completely new without a teacher? You just won’t have the time to do one of them properly, and most likely it won’t be your day job. Most law firms are equipped with several attorneys as well as paralegals that have nothing better to do than work on your case. Doing research and determining how specific laws apply to your case is what they are in business for.
  • Education and experience: Lawyers have at least three years of law school, in addition to however many years of work experience they have acquired. This means that they have exposure to obscure cases that may apply to you, in addition to knowing what each law says and how to apply it to your case. They  know what they are doing, and in this business, that is hard to beat.


The only real downside to hiring a lawyer is the cost. However, when you look at the benefits of having an attorney, it is difficult to choose not to. So the answer to the question “When do I get an attorney involved?” is  “As soon as possible.”

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How to Pick a Good Attorney, Abowitz Law Offices

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Choosing a lawyer can be a daunting task, as there is so much to consider. Obviously, you want a lawyer who can deliver the best possible results for your case, but preferably without emptying your bank account.


The first step is to identify your needs. Determine what type of case you have — civil, real estate, disability, etc. — and look into the steps needed to file for the case. The more informed you are about the process, the easier it is to know what you need your lawyer to do for you. You must also decide whether you will need a general attorney or a specialized attorney.


Once you have identified what type of lawyer you need, do not be afraid to vocalize your search for one. Referrals can come from anywhere: family, friends, a cashier, teller or loan officer at your bank. Anyone you come in contact with may know the perfect attorney for you.


Of course, you shouldn’t choose a lawyer on reputation alone. There exist many free online referral services, which list local lawyers and their specialties. Sometimes these online services even provide ratings, reviews, and success rates.


Additional referrals include local sources, such as your area’s Chamber of Commerce or especially your local law library. For advice in cases of divorce or adoption, consider non-profit organizations, such as women or family counseling.


After narrowing down your list of prospects, you should contact each attorney and ask to meet them in person. As a general rule, if an attorney doesn’t offer a free face-to-face consultation of at least thirty minutes, it could indicate that they value their time above yours. Likewise, however, when you find one that is willing to meet with you, be sure to come well prepared so as to make the most of your consultation.


Bring an outline of your needs, any pertinent details and all documentation that supports those details. During the interview, try to gauge if the lawyer’s personality is one you will be comfortable working with.


You want legal representation that is confident but not overly so. For example, a capable attorney should be able to outline a basic strategy, but should never guarantee that he can win your case, as it is impossible to guarantee a sure win.


Lastly, the questions you ask could be the deciding factor in your choice. Therefore, it is important to ask how you can contact him with questions or concerns. You want an attorney that is willing to make time for you and your case, so he should indicate a willingness to meet personally with you as needed. Upon request, a good attorney should be able to provide a timetable of how soon the paperwork can be filed.


To keep fees to a minimum some attorneys will allow you to do as much of the research, filing, etc. as possible. Most good attorneys will understand and respect your need to monitor the costs closely.


Armed with this information and a clear plan, choosing the right attorney for you should be a rewarding and less stressful experience.

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