If you are struggling to pay your bills and you are being harassed by aggressive creditors, it might be tempting to hire the first attorney you find. However, choosing your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 lawyer is one of the most important decisions you can make, so you want to get it right.
Below are six things you should look for in a bankruptcy attorney:
1. Bankruptcy Experience
Although any licensed attorney can represent you in a bankruptcy filing, you should hire an attorney experienced with filing bankruptcy cases. Ask what percentage of the lawyer’s practice is bankruptcy and how many bankruptcy cases the lawyer has filed. You should also ask the attorney about the types of bankruptcy cases the attorney handles. Specifically, you should make certain the attorney you choose to handle your case has experience with the type of Bankruptcy you are filing-whether it is Chapter 7, 11, or 13.
2. Quality Services for Reasonable Price
The fee a law firm charges is often a large factor in choosing the lawyer who will represent you. After all, you’re already struggling financially, so paying for a lawyer’s services can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, most bankruptcy attorneys understand your situation and offer comprehensive services for reasonable fees. Fee alone should not be the determining factor as you don’t want an attorney who will cut corners and not keep your case the attention it needs.
Most bankruptcy attorneys charge a flat fee, which should include a variety of legal services. It is imperative that you understand what services will (and will not) be covered by payment of the fee. They should be clearly outlined in the retainer agreement.
3. Having your Unique Needs Met
Although experience is important, you also don’t want to make the mistake of working with a “bankruptcy mill.” This type of firm churns out hundreds of cases without fully reviewing or focusing on any of their client’s cases. If you never meet with your attorney, what good are they? You should research a law firm’s reputation, prior to hiring.
4. Local Practice
Every bankruptcy court follows federal bankruptcy laws, but each district court also has its own local rules and procedures. Working with a lawyer that has practiced in the court where you will be filing your case and who is familiar with the local rules and trustees is important.
5. Availability of the Attorney
Find out what parts of the process the attorney will be handling on your case. Who will be preparing your petition? Ask how long it will take for your phone calls to get returned. You need to decide if you are comfortable with the answer.
6. Your Comfort Level with the Attorney
At your initial consultation, you should feel comfortable with the attorney. It may sound obvious, but choosing an attorney you aren’t comfortable with or you feel doesn’t care will not work out for you. You want to work with somebody you trust and that you can easily communicate with. Filing bankruptcy is an emotional matter for most people, and it’s important you feel good about the attorney you are working with. This is especially true when you are filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy which lasts from 3 to 5 years. Therefore, no matter how experienced the lawyer is, if you don’t feel comfortable during the first meeting, they are not the lawyer for you.
If you are interested in learning how filing a bankruptcy case can benefit you, contact Levitt & Slafkes, P.C., at (973) 323-2953. You can also reach us by filling out our online form. We represent debtors in Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 filings. Let us help you get the fresh financial start you need today.
We are proudly designated as a debt relief agency by an Act of Congress. We have proudly assisted consumers in filing for Bankruptcy Relief for over 30 years. The information on this website and blogs is for general information purposes only. Nothing should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.