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Frequently Asked Questions

While many questions pertaining to legal issues are of a personal nature, the questions on this FAQ page, reflect the overall tone of the many inquiries we have received over the years. 

What is a trial lawyer?

A"trial lawyer" is an attorney who represents people injured or otherwise wronged by another person or company. Some attorneys-usually in larger urban areas-limit their practices to this type of representation, but many trial lawyers also provide other types of legal services, such as wills, divorces, real estate transactions and business contracts.

How do I find a good attorney?

A good way to select an attorney is to seek references from family members, friends, co-workers and other persons whom you trust. If you believe that you have been wronged or injured by another person or company, then you should look for an attorney who concentrates much of his or her practice on representation of plaintiffs.

How do plaintiff's attorneys set their fees?

That depends on the type of legal services. There are four basic ways most attorneys set a fee. If you are seeking compensation for damages or injuries that have been caused to you, then your attorney will likely charge a "contingency" fee. A contingency fee is simply a fee that is contingent on the attorney winning the case. If the attorney does not win the case, you do not owe a fee. The amount of the fee is a certain percentage of the amount of money that is recovered for you from the court award or settlement. The percentage can vary, but 33 percent is commonly used as a contingency fee. If there is no settlement or court award, the lawyer collects no fee. The contingency fee arrangement allows people who could not otherwise afford legal representation to hire an experienced and highly competent attorney.

How do defendant's attorneys set their fees?

Lawyers who represent defendants in lawsuits often charge by the hour. In some types of cases, where the amount of work the attorney must perform is predictable, a flat fee might be charged. Clients who maintain long-term relationships with an attorney might pay a monthly "retainer" for legal services. Retainers are more commonly paid by corporate clients than by individuals.

How are jurors selected for a trial?

Juries are the foundation of the American justice system. Being called to jury duty does not necessarily mean you'll actually serve on a jury. You may serve on a jury pool but not be called to serve as a juror in a trial. While some citizens view jury duty as a burden, many of those who have actually served speak highly of the experience. To serve on a jury in New Jersey you must be a U.S. citizen; you must be able to read and understand the English language; you must be a resident of the county in which you are summoned for service; you must not have been convicted of an indictable offense; you are 18 years of age or older; and you do not have a physical or mental condition which prevents you from properly serving as a juror.


Why doesn’t everyone have to serve?

Historically, because of their need in the community, certain groups such as police and doctors were exempt from service. However, in 1995 the law was changed to eliminate all occupational exemptions. The purpose of the new law is to broaden the jury pool among a wider range of citizens. Now, only volunteer firefighters and members of volunteer rescue or first aid squads may be excused from service. Others do not serve because they are not qualified to serve as jurors.

Is my employer required to pay me for jury duty?

Whether or not your employer pays you for jury service depends on the company’s policy regarding paid leave. The jury office has no control over your company’s policy. The Court will pay you $5.00 for every day you are required to report for service. You should know, however, that the law provides employment protection for jurors who are penalized by their employers because they are required to report for jury duty. N.J.S.A. 2B:20-17.
You may qualify for an excuse from service based on financial hardship if your employer does not pay you for jury service and you can prove that such salary loss will create a severe financial hardship. Contact the jury office before your reporting date to request a Financial Hardship Excuse form.

What is the difference between petit jury service and grand jury service?

Petit jurors are trial jurors. They sit on criminal and civil trials and render verdicts based on the evidence and testimony presented to them throughout a trial. Grand jurors do not sit on trials. They decide whether there is a basis for criminal charges against an individual. These cases are presented to them by the prosecutor.

What is a "notary public"?

A notary public is someone who has been trained to notarize legal documents. Most lawyers are notary publics, but not all notaries are lawyers. The general public most commonly uses the services of a notary public to "notarize" documents, such as the transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle. A notary public who is not a lawyer cannot practice law or provide most legal services.

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