How To Hire A Bankruptcy Lawyer
Bankruptcy lawyers are generally seen as the beneficiaries of unfavorable economic conditions. However, bankruptcy filers, many of whom who are not well versed in the bankruptcy process and lack the time to research it, are often at a loss when it comes to finding the proper expert help.
Out of desperation, many people naively select a bankruptcy lawyer based on a commercial, pricing, or even worst, with no criteria at all. Finding the right lawyer to handle your bankruptcy case can mean the difference between your financial peace of mind and long-term agony. Our professionals at ZocLaw.com have rescued many individuals who were victims of poor legal counsel in their bankruptcy filing. We would like you to avoid making the same mistakes that our clients have made. Here are five things you should look for in a bankruptcy lawyer:
Get Your Monies Worth
Just like any other service, hiring a bankruptcy attorney does involve paying fees. Generally, attorneys fees range from $1,000-$3,000, and may be even higher depending on the details of your case.
Luckily, most bankruptcy lawyers use a somewhat standard engagement letter for a basic Chapter 13 or 7-bankruptcy case. The engagement letter must indicate all costs including the consultation with the client, preparation of the bankruptcy petition, reviewing the petition, attending the 341 meeting, as well as follow-ups with creditors if necessary.
For those debtors filing under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the fee should also include proposing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan. The flat fee may not include representation in any adversarial proceedings, so it is essential to ask your lawyer if such a circumstance arises, what the cost might be. Although this scenario occurs in a small number of cases, it is important to consider these costs, as they may spiral out of control.
Make sure you hire a true bankruptcy expert
Although any attorney can file a bankruptcy case on your behalf, it is worth going with someone who has bankruptcy experience. If you have access to the Internet, it is very easy to look up your attorney to see if he or she is legit. “Jack of all trades” are often masters of none, so it is best to go with a lawyer true bankruptcy expert.
Stay Up To Date on bankruptcy code changes
Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005. The legislation, which is designed to sieve out millionaires and habitual filers from gaming the system brought much needed reform to the industry. These changes also made it much more challenging for those debtors who meet the minimum requirements to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy – these vary from state to state.
Be wary of bankruptcy mills
A common pitfall when seeking out the help of a bankruptcy lawyer is falling prey to what is referred to as a bankruptcy mill. A bankruptcy mill is a firm that almost robotically files claims with little consideration for the client. The problem is that most filers face is that it is extremely difficult to differentiate bankruptcy mills from ethical bankruptcy law firms. A good first step is to check with the local bar association for a list of attorneys that who specialize in bankruptcy.
Another way to spot a bankruptcy mill is to inquire about how many cases an attorney handles at a time – if it is an extraordinarily high number, then that might be a red flag. Another characteristic of a high-volume practice is quick and superficial consultations.
Feeling Comfortable With Your Attorney
Picking a lawyer who you are uncomfortable with, although he or she is inexpensive and well qualified might be a recipe for disaster. After all this person will have access to a significant amount of your personal information.
Although there are no guarantees, filers who do their homework prior to filing bankruptcy have can be reasonably sure that they proper legal counsel.