The financial meltdown is a part of life that afflicts millions of people every year. If you are struggling to pay debts, then it may be wise to consider filing for bankruptcy. Determining whether Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is right for you is only the first step. Contacting a bankruptcy lawyer is usually next; but naturally, the question follows: which one?
Let’s go through 2 things that you should look for in finding the right bankruptcy attorney for you.
1) Do You Qualify for Chapter 7? What is the total cost of bankruptcy?
One important question is to understand whether you will qualify for bankruptcy (specifically Chapter 7), the cost of the bankruptcy, and to get a free consultation with a local attorney.
We built the following calculator, which will allow you to do all 3 of those things easily and simply, below.
2) How To Choose a Bankruptcy Lawyer
Filling for bankruptcy is a significant undertaking. It requires excellent advice and the right representation to ensure the entire process runs smoothly.
We care about our customers. Sending them to the right bankruptcy attorney is at the core of what we do. It drastically increases the chances of a better outcome especially in times of financial distress.
Below are some of the items we look for when selecting a bankruptcy attorney for our clients.
Referral: Have we received the attorney as a referral?
Bankruptcy filing requires accurate representation and no better way to achieve this than settling for a professional legal mind. An attorney who is a member of a reputable body (e.g. National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys) meets this threshold most of the time.
Certification is of utmost importance if one is to end up with the right representation in the bankruptcy process. Visiting a state bar’s website can help you ascertain whether a bankruptcy lawyer has the proper credentials. These platforms also provide a way to find whether a lawyer has reprimands or misconduct in their record.
Additionally, certification indicates whether an attorney has been practicing law for a minimum number of years. In this case, you will also be able to determine how long they have been working on bankruptcy cases specifically.
These credentials and certifications provide assurances that one has the practical knowledge to represent the interest of a client through the treacherous bankruptcy process.
Reviews: What are the reviews of the bankruptcy attorney?
Receiving a referral when in search of a bankruptcy attorney is very helpful. Although, it can be hard to determine their quality from just that as everyone’s experiences are different. However, reviews can often be the best way for you to find an attorney that fits your needs the best.
We look for two specific things when it comes to reviews. First, the number of reviews. The more people that leave reviews, most often means that more people are using the services. Of course, the next thing would be the ratings of those reviews. If a bankruptcy attorney has many reviews and good ratings on them, this is a good sign.
Relevancy: Does the attorney focus solely on bankruptcy or many types of law?
An experienced lawyer would make a big difference coming out of a bankruptcy process unscathed. Selecting an attorney with years of experience with both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings is the way to go.
You do not want to end up with a lawyer who is good at navigating clients through only Chapter 13. Especially if Chapter 7 is the best option given their situation. This is why we provide our own calculators for Chapters 7 and 13. These calculators give you a preliminary idea of what might be best for you. This can further serve you as a guide in choosing a bankruptcy attorney.
However, many years of practice do not make one a good bankruptcy attorney. A competent bankruptcy attorney is one who is smart, hardworking, and mentored by experienced attorneys in the business. They must have won most of the cases or led to favorable decisions in favor of their clients.
Rates: What does the attorney charge in fees? Do they offer payment plans?
When selecting a bankruptcy attorney for our clients, we also take into consideration the potential costs of the entire process. Attorney fees are of great importance to ensure one does not incur additional debts in the form of attorney’s fees. Bankruptcy fees vary depending on the attorney pursuing the case. Whether individuals file for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 also affects the fee amount.
Cheap is not always the best option. But high fees, on the other hand, do not always correlate to better representation. Striking a balance between cost and the kind of representation one needs is of great importance for a better outcome.
Reliability: Will the attorney file everything needed in time?
There are three aspects that are critical when it comes to determining whether a bankruptcy attorney is right for you.
Ability to Discuss Alternate Solutions
An ethical bankruptcy lawyer is one who is willing to discuss all the available options as part of the bankruptcy process. With each case, an attorney should be able to weigh and present all the available options.
Some cases do call for paying all your bills to avoid bankruptcy if one is making good money. While other situations call for doing nothing in case one does not have anything creditors can take.
Thus, a competent bankruptcy lawyer should be aware of all the available solutions. They should also be ready to share them readily with their client.
Passion for the Process
Nobody wants to deal with a bankruptcy lawyer who appears to be aloof or out of touch with the predicament at hand. A passionate attorney goes a long way in calming the nerves of a client and affirming confidence that everything will pan out well.
A genuine bankruptcy lawyer will always exude confidence and passion for the work at hand. Such lawyers find bankruptcy cases fascinating. They are always ready to go the extra mile to ensure a better outcome for their clients.
An Understanding Attorney
Most people turn to bankruptcy when everything has failed and there is nothing else they can do to settle their debts. In such times of pain and anguish, it is important to end up with an attorney who understands the severity of the issue at hand.
Given the emotions involved, a bankruptcy lawyer should be in a position to understand the specific situation. They should be able to position themselves to ask the most difficult questions while still showing empathy.
The lawyer should also be able to provide clear and concise answers as well. Some of the key questions to ask at the first meeting include an attorney’s success rate as well as the delivery time on a given case. It will also be important to know how available the attorney is and who will be the primary contact.
If you do not feel comfortable with a lawyer at the first meeting, it would be wise to look for another one.
In conclusion, a better and easier way to end up with the right bankruptcy lawyer is by talking to people who have experienced the same issue. Referrals provide an easy way of understanding a given attorney’s strengths and weaknesses. If you speak to more than half a dozen people, you are sure to end up with a good lead.
Use the calculator below to estimate your qualification and understand the bankruptcy attorney fees in your area.
When in financial hardship, finding someone you trust as a bankruptcy attorney can make bearing the burden a little easier.