Updated May 11, 2020
Bankruptcy is a highly technical field. You should consider an attorney who exclusively practices bankruptcy. You will be spending a lot of time with this attorney, so be sure that you communicate well and like one another. Most bankruptcy attorneys offer a free, initial consultation where you can meet one another without obligation on both your parts. Find out how the attorney’s office works — whether they handle a very high volume of cases and you will primarily be dealing with a paralegal, or whether you can expect most of your contact to be with the attorney; or somewhere in between.
An Attorney You Can Trust
Attorneys as a profession have a bad reputation and a lot of jokes are made about us. I regularly have people thank me for being honest. What? That makes me extremely sad. When choosing an attorney, check the online reviews, BBB, and reputable resources.
An Attorney You Can Talk To
Find a bankruptcy attorney who you are comfortable with and can talk to easily. You should not feel that you are being judged for filing bankruptcy. The most important thing you can do when filing bankruptcy is to be honest. You need a bankruptcy lawyer who you can talk to and who you have confidence will help you get through the bankruptcy process.
An Attorney With Experience
Find a bankruptcy attorney who is experienced. Filing bankruptcy is considerably more than just typing up paperwork. There are on-line bankruptcy services that will type of your paperwork, but they cannot give you legal advice. The timing of filing bankruptcy, as well as pre-filing planning of bankruptcy exemptions may determine whether you keep or lose property and also whether certain debts are dischargeable.
An Attorney That’s Involved
Find a bankruptcy attorney who personally handles your case. Most bankruptcy attorneys use paralegals to assist in gathering needed documents and facts. However, there are some “bankruptcy mills” where clients actually never meet the attorney. Ask whether the bankruptcy attorney personally attends the 341 Hearing (the meeting of creditors) with you. You want and deserve the personal attention from your bankruptcy attorney.
Choose Your Attorney Wisely
Many bankruptcy attorneys offer a free initial consultation that will give you the opportunity to meet the attorney and ask questions. You may also obtain a price quote. Choosing a bankruptcy attorney on price alone is a very bad idea. Price is important, but should not be the deciding factor, especially in a complex case. You may find an inexperienced attorney willing to take a complex case for substantially less, but you may end up paying for it in loss of property or relief.
Filing Bankruptcy Without an Attorney
Don’t do it. Bankruptcy is extremely complicated. Filing without an attorney could cost you property, time, and possibly the discharge. If you cannot afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney, discuss the possibility of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and how much of the attorney fee could be included. You may find that Chapter 13 is a good option for you where the fees can be paid out over five years.
Learn more about Carol Cross Stone and Cross Stone Law.