Civil Matters & Disputes

Civil MAtters & Disputes
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Landlord Tenant

Tenants Law: The Mark Law Firm represents tenants in discussing their rights when wrongfully evicted, security deposit violations and discrimination in housing matters.

Landlord Law: The Mark Law Firm represents Landlords in counseling matters relating to tenants not paying rent, eviction, security deposits and rental contract drafting.  The landlord attorneys are able to guide you based upon their experience handling cases during negations and through defendants or prosecuting claims in the Landlord Tenant court.

Appeals

An appeal can be very complicated, require technical and persuasive legal arguments.  An appeal requires a lawyer who is able to not only persuade the court with his writing, but can verbally argue your claims before the appellate division.   The Mark Law Firm handles civil appeals for both appellants and appellees.   An appeals attorney can help you undue the wrong that the trial court ruled.  Our appeals attorneys can also help you defend against an unnecessary appeal when the Court already “got it right.”

Process of a Lawsuit

Many people are curious about how a civil litigation matter process works.   We are frequently asked: “what is the process for a lawsuit.”  This section will give you a general idea of what to expect if you wish to file a civil lawsuit.  Each case is a bit different than the other, and not every case takes the same path, but in general, the following is a list of steps.

A State of New Jersey civil case will take place in essentially three stages: (1) discovery, (2) dispositive motion practice, and (3) trial.

  • Discovery

    Discovery is guided by the New Jersey Rules of Court.   While there is no required order in which discovery is to proceed, discovery is typically broken down into paper discovery, depositions, experts, hearings/motions, Mediation and Arbitration.

    Paper Discovery: Paper discovery includes interrogatories, demands for documents and admissions.  Once the paper discovery is completed, depositions will proceed.

    Depositions:  A deposition process is where the opposing parties attorneys asks you questions, taken under oath, and with a court reporting.

    Experts: The case will undoubtedly require obtaining records relating to medical treatment, or retaining experts, examinations and evaluations, testing and inspection of evidence.  As part of discovery, you are often required to retain certain types of experts relating to liability, damages.

    Hearings & Motions:  During discovery disputes arise and the court will want to “move the case along” by meeting with the parties.  Discovery disputes may include filing motions to require the other side to do, or not do, something.  Many cases will also require a conference with the court where the Judge will meet with the parties to try to work through disputes or try to settle the case.

    Mediation:  In New Jersey certain matters, such as employment discrimination cases, are required to be sent to Court Ordered Mediation. Court Ordered Mediation is a non-binding tactic used by the court to bring the parties together to try to amicably resolve the dispute (aka, lawsuit) without enduring an expensive and lengthy litigation. Mediation is fee paid, which means the mediator is paid by the litigants.  You are given 1 hour of the mediator’s free time before mediation and 1 hour of free time during mediation. You may opt-out of the court appointed mediator and choose your own mediator. The Mediation process is required to be completed during the discovery period, unless you request otherwise by filing a motion.  During mediation, you have the power to settle or not, and you are not required to do so.  A mediator does not assess liability or place value on a case, but is retained to facilitate a mutually agreeable settlement.

    Arbitrations:  In New Jersey certain matters, such as personal injury and contract disputes are referred to Court Ordered Arbitration.  Arbitration is a binding tactic used by the courts in which the parties submit argument and evidence to support their claim or defense.  During the process an arbitrator then decides if there is liability and what amount of money should be awarded to the Plaintiff.   The matter is “binding” only insofar as the parties must request a trail (de novo) and set aside the Arbitrator’s order.  If one or both of the parties file a “de novo” request, the matter is then set for trial.

  • Dispositive Motion Practice

    In most, but not all cases, one side files a motion with the court asking the court to listen to the facts, apply the law to those facts, and make a ruling to either reject or accept the other side’s position.  Motion practice is normally one parties attempt to force the other party to do something with Court intervention, and is done at the end of the case to have the case dismissed.  This requires legal research and argument in written form, gathering of evidence accumulated during the discovery process, and then placing all undisputed facts with the legal argument into one succinct, logical and well argued Motion and Brief.

  • Pre-Trial, Preparation Before Trial, and Trial

    If the disposition motion is unsuccessful, the Court will set a trial date.  Prior to trial the parties have confer and draft a pre-trial litigation memorandum to the court.  Each side will put together jury questions, jury charges, witness lists, a list of evidence, and motions in limine, which are legal arguments over disputed evidence that need to be presented to the Court.  The parties will issue subpoenas for fact witnesses and experts.  You will need to meet with our Lawyers who will prepare you for trial testimony.  The preparation, time and expense in preparing for trial is extensive.

Settlement Procedures

There are several opportunities for a person to resolve their dispute with another.  When a dispute is resolved, without the use of a Judge or Jury making a decision of liability, we call that agreement a “settlement.”

The attorneys at The Mark Law Firm handle disputes routinely where a settlement is reached.  The most common times a case is settled are found when the parties agree during pre-litigation through negotiations.  Once a lawsuit is filed, however, settlement will often occur through a phone call from our office to the other attorney.  We also find settlement often occurs during mediation and/or arbitration.  Of course, a case can settle at any time, before during or after trial.  It is not uncommon to settle a case during an appeal.

Retainer Agreements

The term retainer agreements simply means a legal agreement with the law firm. In New Jersey, there are certain rules that require a lawyer, who signs up a client, to have the new client sign a legal agreement. The rules of professional conduct require an attorney to identify certain material terms within the legal agreement.  Those terms must include the scope of representation and the fee to be charged. The retainer should also include notice that the lawyer has advised the client of the right to pay hourly, and that any cases settled is subject to a statewide judgment lien search.

At The Mark Law Firm, we have several forms of legal agreement for our clients. We offer our clients three types of retainer agreements: (a) contingency, (b) hourly and (c) blended rate.

  • Contingency Retainer

    A pure contingency retainer means that we are paid by you at the end of the case based upon a percentage of the payment from the other side.  In New Jersey, for matters involving employment and discrimination, a lawyer can charge a negotiated fee.  Our fee is typically 40% for an employment law discrimination charge.  For all other matters, we charge a fee based upon the Court Rule:

    33 1/3 % of the first $750,000 recovered;

    30% of the next $750,000 recovered;

    25% on the next $750,000 recovered;

    20% of the next $750,000 recovered; and

    on all amounts recovered in excess of the above by application for reasonable fee in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (f) hereof

  • Hourly Retainer

    An hourly retainer is offered to clients on matters such as contract, family law, and certain criminal matters.  It is also offered on matters where the firm has been retained to negotiate, counsel or draft documents.  An hourly fee is required for defense matters when our clients are being sued.  Hourly legal agreements also require our clients to pay costs.  We are negotiable with our clients on the down payment, or retention fee, charged.     Our hourly rate clients are charged monthly, unless other wise agreed, such as quarterly.

  • Blended Rate Retainer

    As it sounds, a blended retainer consists of both a contingency and hourly component.   In a blended rate legal agreement, we typically charge our client less than our normal contingency rate and less than our hourly rate, but we do charge both.  The blended rate is a great option for a client who does not want to agree to a 40% contingency matter, or wants to pay a lower hourly rate with a small contingency percentage.

Consultations

The Mark Law Firm offers initial consultations at their Basking Ridge office.  In certain situations, however, we are happy to meet with you in our Newark and Oradell offices. We offer free consultations to personal injury, workers compensation and family law clients. Prior to meeting, one of our lawyers, paralegals or legal secretaries will speak to you and ask you for information so that our attorneys are prepared for the consultation and are able to ask and consult you during your time of need.

Our lawyers meet with clients on a daily basis and schedule consultations during our office hours of 8:30 to 6:00, however, if a special time is necessary we are certainly willing to accommodate you.  Consultation before 8:30 or after 6:00 is not uncommon in our office.  We also meet with clients on weekends.  If a client needs to meet at their home, or at a neutral location, we are free to meet with you when you are available.

Contact The Mark Law Firm, or call us at 908-375-6767201-431-7541 or 973-447-4494 for your consultation and let one of our highly skilled attorneys advise you.

Pro Bono Attorneys

Many times we have clients who call looking for a “pro bono” attorney.  After speaking to the prospective client for a few minutes, I realize that they are really asking for a contingency lawyer.   The Mark Law Firm and its attorneys handle matters on a contingency basis and charge clients based upon the type of case it is.  A contingency lawyer handles matters based upon a percentage of recovery of money paid at the end of the case.

 

For any questions relating to pro bono or contingency fee lawyers, please call The Mark Law Firm at 908-375-6767 and discuss your options.  We are here to help and answer your questions.