Finding a bankruptcy attorney, as with any professional, takes a bit of work and not every attorney is right for every client.
Hiring a Quality Bankruptcy Attorney
Recently there has been a big increase in the number of newly licensed attorneys entering the bankruptcy field, who often charge unrealistically low prices.
At the same time, my office has seen an increase in the number of clients coming to me who are already represented by such attorneys and need help to fix problems caused or not anticipated by the inexperienced attorney. Unfortunately, at that point, it is often impossible to fix.
Not All Attorneys are Created Equal
I wouldn’t select my doctor or surgeon based on the cheapest fees. I’d be worried that they would use rusty knives, not have knowledge of the latest treatments and medications, and be more likely to commit malpractice.
It’s no less relevant when selecting an attorney, especially one responsible for helping you deal with your debts.
There can be serious consequences for selecting the wrong bankruptcy attorney costing far beyond whatever you think you saved to file your case in the first place.
The new bankruptcy laws which went into effect October 17, 2005 are so complex that even certified bankruptcy law specialists have a difficult time meeting all the requirements and understanding the nuances of the law.
Thus, it is virtually impossible for a non-bankruptcy attorney, and certainly a person who is not an attorney, to properly prepare a case, assess the options and anticipate potential problems before they happen, comply with all the rules and regulations, and successfully navigate the case to a successful conclusion. You will, quite simply, need an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy law to handle your case.
Many attorneys illegally advertise themselves as specializing in bankruptcy law. Only certified specialists have taken the requisite examinations and passed the stringent practice requirements to attain this (see more below).
What makes one bankruptcy attorney better than another?
There are a lot of attorneys out there. Many are good, some are not. After practicing exclusively bankruptcy law since 1991, the things I’ve noticed about the good attorneys are things that the clients themselves will never know about. In other words, hiring a good attorney is about the problems that DON’T arise. The little pieces of advice that the client will think commonplace, but that only a really experienced–and connected–attorney would know about.
A good bankruptcy attorney also has other advantages over not-as-good attorneys via their knowledge of the nuances and depths of the bankruptcy laws, understanding how to use the system ethically to your advantage–much in the same way that a good, ethical accountant can get more for you from your tax return or a good criminal defense attorney can maximize chances for acquittal.
What to Look For When Choosing A Bankruptcy Attorney:
Make sure you get a written retainer agreement that fully explains the services to be rendered.
Make sure your attorney is licensed in your State.
Make sure he or she is associated with professional bankruptcy groups that enable them to keep abreast of current topics, changes and important nuances.
Make sure they are board certified bankruptcy law specialists (this is different than just “specializing”) in bankruptcy law, as discussed above.
For more specific tips, see my article on How to Choose a Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy is a very important decision. It is basically the first step towards your entire financial future. The entire bankruptcy system is designed so that attorneys represent all parties involved. That is what we are trained to do. Do you want to trust this future to an unlicensed non-professional?
This is the time to do things correctly. Don’t skimp and save at this point.
Hire the most competent and quality attorney that you can afford and take the first step towards your fresh start.