Choosing the Proper Bankruptcy Attorney for Your Case Part 1

Mar 11, 2014 | Bankruptcy

Don’t Pick the First one Who Comes Along

If you were in desperate need of brain surgery, would you pick the first brain surgeon you could find, simply because his name makes him the first one on the list alphabetically? What if this brain surgeon just graduated last week at the bottom of his class from a medical school no one had ever heard of located in a country that may or may not exist? Wouldn’t you prefer to do a little research to make sure he or she had some reliable credentials and enough experience to be considered an expert in the field?

What to Ask Before You Ever Step Foot in an Attorney’s Office

So what are the right questions to ask an attorney to determine how much experience he or she has? This is something you can determine by making a simple phone call to an attorney’s office. You should have a good idea within 30 seconds of how much experience he or she has.

  • Let’s start with the wrong question to ask. “How much do you charge?” This question is essentially meaningless.
    • Due to the recent increase in the amount of bankruptcies, a vast number of new and veteran attorneys from other areas of practice have now decided to practice bankruptcy. I know many of them who are cheap, and many of them who are very expensive. I wouldn’t recommend any of them for your case. You need an attorney with experience who knows the nuances of the law and the nuances of the actual practice of bankruptcy.
    • On the flip side, you might assume that the bankruptcy attorneys with the greatest amount of legitimate experience would be the most expensive. However, the attorneys I know with decades of experience aren’t necessarily the most expensive or even close to it. Their vast experience has allowed them to determine a fair rate for their services, and they charge accordingly.
  • A fair question to ask an attorney is “approximately how many bankruptcy cases have you filed?”  You should ask about both in the last year and through the duration of his or her practice. If the attorney has filed hundreds of cases a year for many years, it’s a good sign that he or she has enough experience.
  • But experience filing cases is not enough. Ask “how much work will an actual attorney be doing in my case?” You need an attorney who is involved in every aspect of the case, from the initial meeting with his or her clients, all the way to the conclusion of the case.
    • Many bankruptcy attorneys use a paralegal to do most of the actual work on a case, including meetings with clients and filing it with the court. The attorney only performs a quick review of the case and signs off on it.
    • You want an attorney with years of experience not just filing cases, but with conducting every facet of the case from beginning to end. If you are paying your hard-earned money for bankruptcy services, the least you can ask is that an actual attorney does most of the work on your case.

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