Bankruptcy attorneys are everywhere. A Google search turns up over 5 million results. So how do you find the right bankruptcy lawyer? Is one just as good as another? I will help guide you through it with these three tips.
You should never meet with a bankruptcy lawyer paralegal.
Most bankruptcy law firms will offer a free consultation. This is standard practice to talk about the debt issues facing you. However, the attorneys that work for these big firms are pretty proud of themselves. They are so proud, in fact, that they will not sit down to have a real conversation about things that matter to you and me.
Because these attorneys are guarded and removed from the actual clients, they will almost always have you talk to a paralegal. The paralegal will gather the information on the issues and tell you how bankruptcy works. If you do get to meet with the attorney, it will only be for a minute and then it is back to the paralegal to gather your information and prepare your bankruptcy petition. How is an attorney who does not know you, and does not know your case, supposed to represent you in bankruptcy court? She can’t. In big firms, it might not even be the same attorney you met with or the same attorney whose name is on your petition. The attorney may have never seen your petition until the hearing. When you show up to your creditor’s meeting, if the attorney has to introduce themselves, you hired the wrong firm.
This is a very important point. You should have a personal relationship with your attorney. Your bankruptcy lawyer should know you. It is a simple process, but you are both in this together. If your bankruptcy attorney cannot take the time to know who you are, he/she will not take the time to know your case. If your own attorney does not know your case, it could end up in further pleadings, a 2004 exam that could last for hours, or a miscommunication with the bankruptcy trustee that causes your case to be complex.
There is no need for this aggravation. When scheduling the appointment, ask if you will be meeting personally and directly with the bankruptcy attorney. Ask if the paralegal will be conducting most of the interview and the attorney only getting introduced. The entire meeting, the consideration of your issues, and the bankruptcy process should be handled by the attorney you pay. Don’t trust a bankruptcy mill who pushes hundreds of cases and does not handle your case personally.
You should know the cost going in.
Certainly there are some cases that are more complicated than others. If this happens, the attorney can explain why the case is a more complex bankruptcy case and quote a higher price when you meet with her. But for the most part, 9 out of 10 bankruptcy filings follow the same path. The reason most firms will not tell you how much it costs is because they want to see if you would be willing to pay a higher amount. If you have a lot of debt, some firms will assume you are free with your money and will be willing to pay a higher fee. If you have nice cars or a big wedding ring, the attorney will seize on that and ask you to pay more. There is no reason for this.
A bankruptcy filing should cost between $1000 and $1500. The secret is out. If you are asked to pay more than this, you are owed an explanation.
How much does a bankruptcy lawyer cost?
A bankruptcy lawyer should cost between $1000 and $1500. There should also be a filing fee of about $300 regardless if you file chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 bankruptcy. So how do some firms advertise $100 filings? This is a trick to get you in the door. Once you agree to speak to their paralegal, the fees will increase drastically for no reason. Some firms will increase the fees if you have a lot of debt. Some firms will charge a lot if you have a car to reaffirm. If you want to talk to someone other than a paralegal, most every attorney charges the same. Some of them are up front about it, and some of them quote lower fees to trick you. Which would you prefer?
Some attorneys run a glorified petition preparation shop. They advertise that they are a law firm, but then they provide little legal representation. They will advertise a discounted fee that is less expensive than others. For this discounted fee you will get the privilege of talking to a paralegal who will prepare your document without any input from the attorney. The attorney will not know you or your case, yet you still pay for the attorney to “represent” you. This is not the way you need to be treated.
What you should look for is an attorney who has plenty of staff to provide customer service. Customer service is very important. Bankruptcy is an unfamiliar process to you. A lot of anxiety can be resolved by talking to someone.
You should also look for an attorney who provides personal legal representation. If you are going to pay an attorney to represent you, you should not have to deal with a paralegal. If an attorney continually shuffles you off to his paralegal, the lawyer is not trying to help you. He is just trying to make money by taking money for legal representation and having the paralegal do the work.
Mostly, you should look for an attorney that is interested in helping you. Your attorney should have a personal interest in helping people. This is not a divorce or a custody fight. There is no reason to be mean or confrontational. This is an application to have your debt discharged. Your attorney should be very personable and sympathetic to your issues.
Every attorney you contact through wantafreshstart will be interested in you personally. They will have ample staff to answer the phone seven days a week. They will know your case and prepare your petition personally. You will have a direct phone number to them. We cut through all of the bankruptcy business to offer a friendly customer service experience. You already have enough people stressing you out about debt. The least we can do is make the discharge of that debt a pleasing process.