How To Find The Best Bankruptcy Attorney

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How To Find The Best Bankruptcy Attorney

Choosing any professional, whether it be a doctor, lawyer, contractor, plumber, or whomever, requires a good deal of comparison and research.

I’m often asked what specific things a client should be looking for when hiring a bankruptcy attorney.

What should they ask?

How do they know they’re getting a quality attorney and won’t get ripped off on fees?

What to Look for When Hiring a Bankruptcy Attorney

There are lots of ways to find a bankruptcy lawyer.  You can simply “surf the ‘net” and see what comes up, or go to bankruptcy lawyer specific sites, such as nacba.org

While there is always an element of faith and luck involved in such a selection, there are things you can do to ensure you find someone that fits your needs.

I answer dozens of questions online each week in free legal advice posts, and one of the most repeated fact patterns is that their attorney did not do something properly, or isn’t communicating with them, or otherwise just messed things up because they didn’t know what they were doing.

A lot of times they were things beyond the attorney’s control, but many times it was purely inexperience or bad lawyering on the part of the attorney, which can lead to the client losing assets (such as their home) or losing their discharge, or worse.

These types of nightmares can be reduced or eliminated if attention is paid to certain criteria when selecting your attorney.

Research The Attorney You Want To Hire

Start with the attorney’s webpage.  Nearly every attorney has one now.  It should contain a lot of information about them and their credentials.

In addition, you can look up information on them independently, also using the internet and other resources.

Here are a few factors  I suggest you consider or ask about when researching which bankruptcy lawyer to hire:

  • How long have they been practicing bankruptcy law?
  • Do they handle exclusively bankruptcy cases, or do they dilute their practice by handling other areas?
  • Are they a Board  Certified Specialist in Bankruptcy Law?
  • Are they well thought of by their peers? You can check neutral, independent evaluation sites to see if they have a peer review rating such as lawyers.com or avvo.com.
  • Is the attorney recognized as an expert in the field?   I regularly answer questions from distraught individuals whose attorneys have essentially abandoned them, or hopelessly botched up their case. Some of their stories really make me sad.
  • How many cases do they handle each month?  How responsive are they when you ask a question (i.e. how long does it take to get a response?).   You want an attorney with experience, but not one who is filing such a high volume of cases that they don’t have time for any of their clients.   The high volume attorneys do tend to be less expensive, but in most cases will not give you the same attention and service as others.  You need to balance everything and see what fits for you.
  • To what legal groups do they belong?  This can be an indicator about the extent of their commitment to bankruptcy law and how well they are able to keep up with the constant changes, both locally and nationally, in interpretations of the law.
  • Do they charge unusually low fees? An attorney who advertises a low flat fee for filing a bankruptcy case should be a red flag.   As with most things that seem too good to be true, so are these types of offers.

Have Consultations and See if You Fit

Most bankruptcy attorneys offer free initial consultations, or at least very inexpensive ones.

Take advantage of these to find out your options and also to learn about the attorney and get a feel for how you think you will get along with them and how well they will represent your interests.

Ask questions.

In fact, if you haven’t found the information I listed above already, ask the attorney about any of them.

Just because they have or don’t have every item on my checklist above doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t hire them.

They are just for you to use for comparison and a guideline to prevent you from getting a lemon.

 

Image Courtesy of Lazurite

By | 2016-10-18T13:35:33+00:00 December 4th, 2012|Categories: bankruptcy attorneys|16 Comments

About the Author:

Attorney Mark Markus has been practicing exclusively bankruptcy law in Los Angeles, California since 1991. He is a Certified Specialist in Bankruptcy Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, AV-Rated by martindale.com, and A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau. Google Plus

16 Comments

  1. Sam Wilkins April 29, 2016 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Great tip about considering if they specialize in handling bankruptcy cases. Personally, I think it’s best to hire a specialist to represent you because I think they have more knowledge about the area of law they practice. I need to hire a bankruptcy lawyer, so I will be sure to ask these things when I shop around.

  2. Marie Watson April 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    You make a good point about taking advantage of the information you can receive during a bankruptcy consultation. It seems like it is important to be aware of your options when filing for bankruptcy. I would also think that an attorney can help you make sure you are fully aware of how the case will proceed.

  3. emily bennette April 22, 2016 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    I like that you pointed out that experience is a pretty big deal when it comes to hiring a bankruptcy attorney. if you need to file for bankruptcy it seems like you would want to do it correctly. I like the idea of having a someone who has done it enough time to know all of the things involved with filing correctly.

  4. Vicky Durrant March 11, 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    I’m going to be filing for bankruptcy, and I’ve decided to hire an attorney to help me with the process. I’ve never hired a bankruptcy attorney before, though, so I’m happy that I found your post! I really liked your tips, especially what you mentioned about hiring an attorney with a lot of experience. I think that when it comes to law, practice makes perfect! I’ll be sure to keep this in mind as I search for an attorney to represent me. Thank you for the advice!

  5. Braden Bills February 26, 2016 at 6:14 am - Reply

    I like how you pointed out that there’s multiple ways to find a bankruptcy lawyer. When you’re managing something as crucial as a bankruptcy, it’s extremely important to make sure you have the right person to help you with the job. There’s no such thing as comparing too many people when it comes to choosing the perfect person for the you!

  6. Brian Linnekens February 26, 2016 at 3:02 am - Reply

    Once you have made the decision to file for bankruptcy, you may find yourself as overwhelmed with laws and technicalities as you are with credit card debt. One of the points of bankruptcy is to make your life less stressful by giving you a fresh financial start. Filing for bankruptcy should not add to your stress; it should only alleviate it. That is why choosing the right bankruptcy attorney in Los Angeles that can work with you own individual needs are of the utmost importance.

  7. Paul Langley February 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    These are some really helpful tips for anyone considering bankruptcy. I know too many people who would just search for “bankruptcy lawyer” on the internet and hire the first one that comes up. But these are some really great questions to ask to make sure you’re hiring the right lawyer for your case, especially that fourth one. Evaluating their peers’ opinion of them is a great way to gauge their performance. Thanks so much for writing!

  8. John Blake December 22, 2015 at 10:16 am - Reply

    My friend will be going through this process soon. I agree that it is a good idea to do some research on the lawyer you are hiring before you actually go ahead and work with them. This way, you can be more positive that it will be a good fit. Thank you for the help.

  9. Jack Moore December 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    These are some really great tips! When you’re trusting your financial future to someone, it’s important to know exactly who you’re dealing with. Being unable or unwilling to ask questions and get to know them and their practice could cost you. Don’t hire anyone until you know that they are worth every penny. Thanks for writing!

  10. Olivia Sherwin December 4, 2015 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to have a consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer to see if you fit. There’s a lot you can learn from the internet and recommendations, but some things you have to find for yourself. Having a consultation is a good way to get a feel for the attorney to see if you would work well with them. Thanks for the great post!

  11. Steve Holt November 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I’m glad that you included a list of characteristics and qualifications when looking for a bankruptcy attorney. Choosing an attorney based on experience, whether they focus on bankruptcy cases, and by the number of cases they take each month seems like a great way to find the right attorney. This criteria will really help while I’m looking for a lawyer, so hopefully I’ll be able to find one soon to guide me through the details that I need to know when it comes to bankruptcy law. Thanks for the tips!

  12. Wally West May 11, 2015 at 4:28 am - Reply

    I have been looking into getting a bankruptcy attorney, and this information is really helpful. Thank you for sharing. I have been having some troubles with my business, and I have been trying to make it stay afloat, but I just don’t get enough business. I sank a lot of my personal funds into this business, and it didn’t turn out the way that I wanted. Hopefully I can get a bankruptcy attorney and get this figured out.

  13. Christel Sherrow April 27, 2015 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Great Tips! You considered very useful factors in these blog when hires a bankruptcy lawyer. There are many bankruptcy lawyers that you can find a different way. But finding an experience, competence and expert bankruptcy lawyer for you.

  14. Deanna R. Jones March 31, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for the tips! My business is going under, so there’s a high possibility that I’ll have to file for bankruptcy. I’ve never filed for bankruptcy, so it seems best to find a good lawyer to help me out. Finding a lawyer that has a lot of experience specializing in bankruptcy law is a very good point. Having a lawyer on my side who stays up to date on bankruptcy law seems like a very important quality to have in a good lawyer.

  15. Christophe Carlier March 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information on what to look for when hiring a bankruptcy attorney. It can be very difficult to get out of bankruptcy and turn your life around but there are certain things you can do to get help. It is important to ask friends and family members if they know anyone and then research the attorney that you want to hire. It is necessary to know if they are qualified, how much experience they have, and if you can trust them. Thank you for sharing.

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