5 Must Haves in a Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy lawyers often make a kill during tough economic times. However, their clients, most of who know very little about the process and lack time to find out, are the ones who lose out. To avoid being part of this statistics, there are a couple of must-haves on your list when dealing with bankruptcy lawyers.
- Get value for your money and nothing less
- Work with a real bankruptcy expert
- The expert must be aware of code changes
- Avoid shoddy lawyers
- Ensure the lawyer is someone you can establish a comfortable professional relationship with
With creditors losing patience and desperation mounting, many people blindly, pick bankruptcy lawyers based on price, a recent advertisement, or even worse, without any criteria. Selecting a good bankruptcy lawyer from an equally good Cornwell law firm comes in handy to help you get the best services and evade rebound as well as long-term pain.
In case you are considering the option of bankruptcy, go through your checklist again, but this time in detail.
1. Get value for your money and nothing less
It is a simple fact, the key element for many people when searching for a bankruptcy lawyer is the fee. After all, money happens to be a crucial factor in this issue. Considering the fact that it costs between $ 1,000 and $3,000 to hire a bankruptcy lawyer, you have to get value for this high price.
Luckily, a majority of the lawyers uses a relatively uniform agreement for liquidation, personal reorganization, Chapter 7, or Chapter 13. The basic fee must include consultation with a client as well as analysis of his current financial situation; preparing for the bankruptcy petition; review of the petition with the client; attending a meeting with creditors, called a 341; and lastly follow up such as preventing any post collection activities if need be.
When it comes to a Chapter 13, the fee must include preparation for the reorganization plan as well as representation of the client at the relevant confirmation hearing. Ensure that the lawyer clearly spells out all these services in the signed representation agreement.
In all probabilities, the flat fee will not cater for eventualities such as representation of the debtor at an adversarial proceeding-such as a situation whereby the creditor decides to challenge the filings. It is also important for you to ask the lawyer what he is most likely going to charge in case litigation arises from the bankruptcy case. When this eventuality does occur, which is rare, a filer has to be well prepared to prevent things from falling out of proportion.
2. Only consider an expert who is aware of code changes
In 2005, the Congress put the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in place. This legislation, created to reign in habitual filers and millionaires from turning the system into a joke, brought vast reforms in the bankruptcy arena. However, the changes make it difficult for a number of debtors, who qualify as far as income is concerned, to file for the Chapter 7 bankruptcy code. In some instances, the law obligates the debtors to repay all their debts via reorganization instead of getting open forgiveness. It also required individuals filing for bankruptcy protection to undergo credit counseling before they can file. A bankruptcy lawyer must be aware of such code changes.
3. Work with a real bankruptcy expert
Technically, any lawyer out there can take on a bankruptcy case, but in reality, only those who specialize in the field are worth picking. Still, if an attorney claims expertise in bankruptcy alongside other areas, he is worth considering. In this case, give him the benefit of doubt.
4. Avoid shoddy bankruptcy lawyers
A common pitfall that many debtors fall in is that of hiring a shoddy attorney. Avoid going to any Bankruptcy law firm that is a bankruptcy mill. Such a firm is notorious for a long string of dissatisfied clients, and failed cases that arouse the suspicion from judges and trustees that a debtor only wants to be done with the process by abusing the legal system.
While it may be hard to spot a mill, you can actually pick out such a firm. Check with the local bar association of your area for recommendations concerning the best bankruptcy attorneys. Be sure to do a background check on how many cases a specific lawyer handles at any given time. If the lawyer takes care of over 30 cases monthly, it is safe to assume that you have met a mill. Note that a high volume of cases indicates superficial initial consultations on the part of a lawyer.
5. Never overlook the need for a comfortable relationship
This may sound obvious but you have to work with a lawyer who interacts well with you. If you feel you are not comfortable with a certain lawyer, feel free to seek another, as a relationship that is not comfortable spells nothing but disaster. No matter how competitive on price and services the attorney is, let comfort and chemistry with him be the bottom line.
Lastly, do your homework. Do offline and online searches to find the best Gwinnett bankruptcy attorney and ensure that the attorneys you have shortlisted are reputable in their respective bar associations of the regions they operate. Never overlook the need to find the best bankruptcy lawyer for a successful case.