If you’ve decided that bankruptcy is an option, or if you think it might be but want more information, there’s no shortage of resources. The problem is, how to decide which attorney is right for you. Here are some tips in picking the right one.
When you’re considering filing bankruptcy, price is not the only consideration. What should you look for in hiring an attorney? Here are several considerations:
Who will you speak to? When you call the office do you speak with the attorney or a paralegal or receptionist? Receptionists and paralegals are not lawyers; they can’t give legal advice. They can explain the process and answer general questions, but when it comes to the particulars of your case, only an attorney can answer legal questions. You need to know who you’ll be speaking with when you call the office. Will you be able to speak directly with the attorney or will the receptionist or paralegal take your question, promise to pass it on to the attorney, and tell you the attorney will get back with you? Or will the paralegal get back with you with an answer? Providing personalized service is what sets us apart from many bankruptcy lawyers.
When can you expect an answer? Does the attorney return your call within 24 hours (preferably within 4 hours)? If you aren’t able to speak with the attorney directly (and no law office can guarantee that you’ll get through to your attorney every time you call), when can you expect a return call?
What does the fee include? Cost is a major consideration for anyone filing bankruptcy. It’s natural to gravitate to the lowest price. But what’s included in that price? Most bankruptcies are routine to the lawyer, but that doesn’t mean your bankruptcy is routine to you. You’ll probably file bankruptcy only once in your life. It could be the biggest financial decision you make. You’re going to have questions along the way. Does the fee include time spent talking with your attorney after your case is filed? Sometimes issues with the trustee or a creditor come up. Will the fee you paid cover dealing with these issues, and if so, which ones? Or is there an extra charge? What if you forgot to include a creditor or need to amend your schedules? You can see what’s included in our fee here.
How long has the attorney been practicing bankruptcy law? Country and western singer Alan Jackson had a hit in the 1990s called “He’s Gone Country.” It was a sort of protest song about all the singers in other genres who switched to country because it looked like the place to be. The same is true in the law. Is the attorney you’re considering an experienced bankruptcy attorney or has she just switched to bankruptcy because that’s the place to be right now? Bankruptcy is complex. The rules are complicated. You need an attorney who’s practiced in that area for years, who knows the court system, the trustees, the judges, not someone who just started. I’ve been practicing bankruptcy law for over 35 years.
Does the attorney appear professional? Have you looked at the attorney’s website? Does it look professional to you?
Is the attorney willing to explain your options fully to you? Bankruptcy is often not the only option. Even if filing bankruptcy is what you decide is best, there are options within bankruptcy. The attorney should be willing to explain all your options and what you can expect under each of them, not rush you into something you don’t understand.
Do you feel comfortable with the attorney? This is perhaps the biggest factor to consider. You’re entrusting your financial future to your attorney. You must feel comfortable with whoever you choose. The attorney could be 100% competent, you could like everything else you see, but still not feel comfortable with him. If that’s the case, keep looking.
The lowest cost doesn’t mean you have the best attorney. Filing bankruptcy isn’t like buying gas for your car; unlike gasoline, not all attorneys are the same. Please give us a call, email, or text if you have questions.