The one thing that is worse than filing bankruptcy is hiring the wrong lawyer to handle your case. Finding an experienced, competent and expert bankruptcy attorney can make a huge difference to your future financial situation. Choosing the right lawyer or firm is important to your reclaiming your financial life. Here are 10 tips to help you find the best attorney for your case.
Don’t put it off – People frequently begin looking for a bankruptcy lawyer only after they are in a major financial crisis. Under these stressful conditions it is just too easy to choose a lawyer who is friendly and supportive without checking into his or her background and experience. Waiting until the last minute won’t give you the time you need to find a good attorney.
Spend a morning in bankruptcy court – Observe the attorneys in action to see who you might want to represent you. If possible talk to other debtors and ask them how they feel about the job their lawyer did for them.
Get a bankruptcy expert – The practice of law is specialized like medicine and you want a bankruptcy attorney that specializes in personal bankruptcy. Look for a lawyer whose practice is limited to bankruptcy. The expert you want is both skilled and experienced in filing Chapter 7’s as well as Chapter 13’s and in addition can provide a non-bankruptcy workout if that is the best option for your situation.
Get someone with vast bankruptcy experience – The right lawyer is the person who has extensive experience handling cases like yours and knows what to do immediately. Be sure to ask, “How many bankruptcies do you handle in a month or in a year?” Again, bankruptcy is a specialized area of the law and you want a lawyer that has seen it all and done it all and knows exactly what to do to get you the best solution for your case. When it’s all said and done, you want a lawyer who knows the system and will do the best job of representing you
Get someone respectful – Pay attention to how you are treated on the phone and in person. Do you feel comfortable? Do these people seem like the kind of people you will like doing business with? Remember, people that are too busy or too important to be polite are too busy to give your case the attention it deserves.
Get someone helpful and supportive – There are many forms to fill out for filing a bankruptcy. Find a law firm that will assist you in completing the required paperwork. You want someone to sit with you and help you do it right the first time.
Check out the law firm’s offices – You are not looking for a pretty or well decorated office but pay attention to the organization of the office. An orderly, well organized office will give you a clue as to how your case will be handled.
Get clarification about your rights and responsibilities – There are things that your lawyer should do for you and there are things that you absolutely must do if your case is to be successful. Make sure you understand what you can expect and what you have to do to make your bankruptcy work. Get it in writing. If you have any questions, get them answered before you leave the office.
Get a fee agreement – Ask for a copy of the attorney’s fee agreement. As with all documents, make sure that you understand it fully before you sign it. No reputable attorney will pressure you to accept a fee agreement on the spot.
Make sure you meet with a bankruptcy lawyer – Insist that you talk with a licensed lawyer, not a clerk. Though an administrative staff person will likely be your primary contact throughout your case you want to be interviewed and advised by an expert bankruptcy lawyer.
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