This is part 4 of my 11 article series covering my bankruptcy experience.
My spouse and I filed for bankruptcy in July of 2022. This was not an easy decision to make, there were many variables that factored into our decision to do so. Bankruptcy can be a very scary and stressful topic and time in your life, it may be filled with uncertainty, guilt and shame. All of these feelings are normal and okay, we felt the same way. Believe me when I tell you that the relief that you feel the day you file your case is undeniable. It more than makes up for the feelings of stress and uncertainty. In this article I am going to walk you through what I would look for in a bankruptcy attorney if I had to file a bankruptcy again.
I think that a common method of determining value in something is portrayed by the cost. The more expensive something is, it must be the best right? Wrong!
Just because something or someone is the most expensive does not mean that you are going to get something better than everyone else. This is also the case when it comes to bankruptcy attorneys.
There are some situations where getting a well known attorney and paying top dollar for their service may be a smart choice. Some of these options may include:
Really complicated bankruptcy cases (many assets, large incomes)
Business bankruptcies where the business owner may be a personal guarantor on a debt and has lots of personal assets
Situations where the debtor has little to no income, but may have an asset that is above the state exemption - like a house that is paid in full
A high income earner loses their income and needs to file a chapter 7
Often times the cost of an attorney goes up if:
The attorney has 10+ years of experience
The attorney has a speciality
The attorney needs to do more work than a normal case
Larger/national/regional firms may be able to provide you with the same expertise but with a much lower cost as well.
For me, personally I would say that a solid set of reviews and recommendations more than outweigh any cost. When I look for reviews, I tend to look first at their Google Reviews, and then I also like to check Trust Pilot and the Better Business Bureau. Some smaller and newer law firms may not have reviews on TrustPilot or have much of a BBB presence and that is okay, as sometimes it takes a while to build up an arsenal of reviews.
When you are looking at attorney reviews, you will want to check for the following things:
How is their communication?
Has anyone mentioned slow turnaround times?
How is their customer service?
Most businesses are going to have a negative review or two, that is the cost of doing business. However if you start seeing more than a couple of reviews like:
“They never call me back.”
“They were good, but very disorganized”
“They told me they could do X, but once we filed our case we found out that was not the case.”
While some reviews pertaining to these subjects may not be all bad. Things do happen, but if you see a recurring theme I would consider looking elsewhere for a good attorney. If you are not sure how to find a good attorney, we have done a good amount of leg work and found reputable attorneys in all areas of the United States. You can take our free Attorney Fee Calculator to get an estimate on what the fees for your case may look like and get matched with an attorney in your area for a free consultation.
For me personally, I would say that this is the most important thing when it comes to choosing a bankruptcy attorney. We interviewed a couple of attorneys before we landed on the one that worked for us and our situation.
Bankruptcy is a very personal matter and you want to feel comfortable discussing the ins and out of your finances. It can be off putting if you feel like you are a burden to the attorney, or if the attorney makes you feel like you are doing something wrong by needing to file for bankruptcy. Feeling valued and feeling like the attorney is taking your case seriously is very important. Feeling like a number You can check out my detailed account on my attorney process here.
Filing bankruptcy is never an “ideal” situation for anyone. It is a heavy topic with lots of implications. It can be both a major positive and a negative for someone. It is there for a reason, a tool to be used when you need it. From June 2022 to June 2023 around 418,724 people have filed for bankruptcy in the United States. That number is up about 10% from the year prior.