If you are like many of our clients who are struggling to make ends meet, you are not sure where to start when it comes to obtaining the help of a debt relief expert. If creditors are taking aggressive collection tactics against you, it can be tempting to hire the first attorney you find. However, it is important to understand that selecting 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 five things you should look for in a bankruptcy attorney:
Quality Services for Reasonable Price
The fee a law firm charges is one of the biggest factors that influences who you will hire to 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.
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 representation agreement.
You should understand that the bankruptcy court closely supervises how much your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 attorney can charge. As a result, most lawyers charge very similar rates, so you should not select your attorney based solely on the amount of the fee.
Although any licensed attorney can represent you in a bankruptcy filing, only those that have experience handling such matters should do so. Bankruptcy law is complex and there are a myriad of pitfalls that can occur in a filing. Thus, you should ask the attorney what percentage of his or her practice focuses on bankruptcy. If the lawyer has handled hundreds of cases, you can bet he or she is fully equipped to handle yours too.
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, including asking the local bar association for recommendations on bankruptcy attorneys.
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 can be extremely beneficial.
At your initial consultation, you should feel comfortable with the attorney. You want to work with somebody you trust and that you can communicate easily with. This may mean that you don’t hire an affordable and qualified attorney, but you won’t get as much out of the representation if you don’t “click” with your lawyer.
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.