Do I need a will?

If you have property or minor children who would require the appointment of a guardian upon your death, you probably do need a will. Without a will, the State of Texas has statutes that direct who inherits your property. A will would provide an independent administration of your estate, which could save your estate thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs. A will would also clearly direct who is to receive your property. If you have minor children, in many cases you can name a person who might be named their guardian.

I am purchasing a home - do I need an attorney to represent me?

Although many routine transactions are closed through title companies without the assistance of a lawyer, it is a good idea to consult a lawyer before signing a contract or if a more complicated or involved real estate transaction is involved. A good real estate lawyer can quickly identify those areas which might eventually become problems, and it is always better to identify such potential problems before the closing rather than afterwards.

What is a mediation?

A mediation is a process by which an impartial third party will meet with the involved parties to a dispute or lawsuit and their attorneys to assist in trying to arrive at a settlement. Mediations usually take half a day but could take a whole day if more complicated. They are held in meeting rooms or attorneys’ offices and are a much less formal proceeding. Each party is allowed to present their positions and engage in an ongoing discussion with the other side through the mediator to try and resolve those issues. If a resolution occurs, an agreement will be written, signed by all parties, and presented to the Court as a settlement of any litigation.

I have a business. Should I operate it as a sole proprietorship, limited partnership, corporation, or some other entity?

The answer to this question in not a simple one. The type of entity you want to use will depend on the nature of your business, its size, the number of employees, whether there are partners, or whether there are tax considerations that need to be made. All of the different entities you can use in Texas for the operation of a business have different attributes which must be tailored to the particular entity. A little pre-business planning can go a long way to protect your business and assets and provide the flexibility needed to operate the business to its best advantage. It is a good idea for any business owner to have a regular relationship with a lawyer to discuss those issues which come up from time to time.

What is a board certified lawyer?

A board certified lawyer in Texas is someone who has met the requirements of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. There are a number of different areas of law for which board certification is allowed in Texas. To be board certified, you generally must have a significant amount of experience in the field in which you practice and pass a comprehensive examination for that area of certification. The certification is renewed every five years provided you continue to meet the qualifications for certification in that field. Board certification essentially means that an attorney spends a substantial amount of time working in the area of certification; it further means having the skills necessary to represent individuals who have complicated legal issues relating to that particular area of law.

Should I use a board certified legal specialist to help me with my particular legal problem?

There are many very qualified attorneys in Texas who are not board certified in any particular area of law. For the most part, a board certified attorney has a major area of practice in the area where board certified. A board certified attorney will have met the exacting standards set by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for that particular area of law. Before hiring any attorney, you should inquire as to their experience, qualifications, and fees for handling legal problems.

How do I find a good lawyer?

There are many ways to find a good lawyer. One way is to get a referral from a professional who customarily deals with a particular lawyer on a regular basis. You might also get referrals from clients who have used that lawyer previously. The telephone directory yellow pages will give you some information about the particular lawyer, although you will need to investigate beyond that before making a selection. A good lawyer will:  promptly respond to inquiries regarding service and will be willing to answer any questions regarding the nature of the case for which you are seeking legal representation; identify specific experience working in that area; and advise what fees will be charged for services. You should expect an lawyer to be straightforward with you regarding the legal matter with which you need help; you should use someone with whom a strong rapport has been established.

Are retainers required in all cases?

There are some types of litigation for which retainers are required, which would normally be most lawsuit including family law cases. In some cases, retainers will not be required once you have established a relationship with a lawyer or a law firm. If your particular legal matter will require that the law firm incur certain costs or expert fees, retainers can sometimes be required in those types of cases. As a general matter, retainers are not required in personal injury cases.