Hiring A Bankruptcy Attorneys 10 Things to Consider


  1. COMMUNICATION: Your bankruptcy attorney should be able to communicate with you so that you understand what you are doing. The filing of a bankruptcy petition is a difficult thing to do.  An individual should be able to understand the difference between the chapters and why one chapter is better than another.  An individual should understand the questions and answers that are required when filing a bankruptcy. Remember, you are under oath and can face severe consequences for not being truthful. You could lose assets, you could lose your discharge or you could even go to prison.
  2. TRANSLATE LEGALESE: Your bankruptcy attorney should be able to explain the process and the procedures in terms other than using legal jargon.
  3. COMFORT: We do not have to be best friends but we should feel comfortable with each other. I have turned clients down because I could tell we were not going to be able to communicate or feel comfortable with each other. I have clients who do not feel comfortable with me. It is a two-way street.
  4. WHO ARE YOU HIRING: What do you know about your attorney? Have you verified their credentials with the local Bar Association? You need to make sure that the attorney you are hiring is licensed and you want to check to see if they have pending malpractice claims or bar complaints. You want an attorney who is doing a good job for his/her clients and not someone who has a reputation of mishandling cases and clients.
  5. WHO ARE YOU MEETING WITH: You may not think to ask this question but it is important to know that the person you meet with may not be an attorney. It may be a paralegal or staff person. There may be multiple attorneys handling your case and the first one you meet may not be the one who ultimately handles your case. You should ask these questions when hiring an attorney: (1) Who will I be meeting with to review my case? A lawyer? Which lawyer? A paralegal? (2) Who will respond to my questions as they come up? (3) Who will appear at my hearing? (4) Will I meet with an attorney when I come for my final review and to sign all of the documents? Find an attorney who is not going to make an appearance to convince you to hire the firm and then pawn you off. And make sure the person handling your case knows you and your situation.
  6. EXPERIENCE: As Jimi Hendrix asks: “Are you experienced?” I am surprised at the number of people who never ask me questions about why I am qualified to handle their case, how long have I been practicing bankruptcy and whether most of my clients get their discharge.
  7. FEES: This seems to be the number one question over the phone and at the initial consultation. This should be your last question. First find out about your lawyer, see if you are a good fit and make a determination as to his/her competency to represent you. It is about the quality of representation and not just the cost. Remember, sometimes you get what you pay for.
  8. EMPATHY: Does the lawyer care about his clients? We begin most of our appointments with “Tell me your story and why you are here.” I also need a picture of you and your life so that I can help determine if bankruptcy is for you, and what type of bankruptcy is best.
  9. TIME: How much time will you get with your attorney? Is the appointment rushed? Does he/she return your calls and emails timely? Are you just another number? You want your attorney to be there when you need them, not just when you are paying money.
  10. RESPECT: Your attorney should respect you and your situation. You should never feel like your attorney looks down on you. One of the biggest compliments we receive in our office is when a client tells us they were nervous to come in, and embarrassed, but meeting with us has lifted the weight of the world from their shoulders.