Last Updated on January 11, 2023 by James Gentile
Like most legal issues, you will need the services of a bankruptcy lawyer who has extensive experience in the bankruptcy process. Here’s what to look for when you are hiring a bankruptcy attorney.
According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court website, 91% of Americans filing bankruptcy will hire an attorney to assist them filing a Chapter 7 petition. Nearly 50 percent of bankruptcies are filed because people cannot afford to pay for serious medical issues due to insufficient insurance coverage or lack of insurance. The other 50 percent of bankruptcies filed are because of job loss, divorce, credit debt, or reduced income.
To expedite your bankruptcy by making sure you are hiring a bankruptcy lawyer with significant experience, look to hire bankruptcy attorneys who:
Specifically, practice bankruptcy law. In other words, do not hire attorneys who advertise themselves as criminal or family law attorneys to handle your bankruptcy. Although they may tell you they have experience filing bankruptcies, this doesn’t mean they can manage your bankruptcy with the expertise of a seasoned bankruptcy attorney.
Have in-depth knowledge of local bankruptcy rules and regulations. Filing bankruptcy in the U.S. involves knowing about federal bankruptcy laws and district court laws. Also, in a client’s district, bankruptcy trustees have additional procedures and requirements a lawyer needs to follow. Ensure your bankruptcy goes as smoothly as possible by hiring a bankruptcy attorney familiar with trustees and local laws.
Charge fees reasonable for your situation. It’s a given that people filing bankruptcy are in desperate financial straits. Consequently, a good bankruptcy lawyer will never overcharge clients seeking relief from substantial financial debt. A few, including our office, will take payments after filing.
Belong to their state bar association. All 50 states have a bar association offering a list of bankruptcy attorneys practicing in that particular state. If a bankruptcy lawyer you are interested in hiring is not listed on your state’s bar association, avoid that lawyer.
Offer a free, face-to-face consultation. While phone consultations can be helpful, you should be able to meet a prospective bankruptcy lawyer in person free of charge before deciding to hire that lawyer.
What Happens After Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
Once your attorney files your bankruptcy case, a legal motion called an automatic stay is sent to your creditors, which prevents them from calling or emailing you regarding the debt.
A bankruptcy trustee will then be appointed to your case. Contrary to what is believed, filing bankruptcy does not mean you must sell all of your possessions. In most bankruptcy cases, with careful planning, the individual retains all of his possessions.
Research Your Options Before Hiring a Bankruptcy Attorney
Don’t let general practice lawyers talk you into hiring them just because they promise to complete your bankruptcy in less than 30 days. It takes much longer for documents to be filed and processed by local bankruptcy courts and attorneys to set up meetings with bankruptcy court mediators. If you have substantial debt and are considering filing bankruptcy, don’t rush out and hire the first lawyer you find. Instead, hire a seasoned bankruptcy lawyer with expertise in maneuvering the highly complex bankruptcy legal system.