Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer

A bankruptcy lawyer can help if your debt is out of control and bankruptcy is the only choice left for relief from your creditors. While bankruptcy laws allow you to represent yourself, it is beneficial to hire legal counsel to work on your behalf. In some instances, you may qualify for assistance to help cover the cost of using legal services.

A good bankruptcy attorney will be able to explain the laws to you, tell you which bankruptcy chapter to file, and will work with the court to obtain the best outcome possible. 

Here are some tips to follow as you begin the process of finding a good lawyer to help you navigate the process of filing for bankruptcy.

Selection Criteria

Consider what you want in an attorney. You may want someone who is very strong willed, or someone who readily offers advice, for example. But most definitely, you want to hire someone who is experienced in the type of bankruptcy you need to file.

The lawyer should charge a reasonable legal fee, have good judgment, and be someone you feel you can contact with questions. If you feel you cannot approach the lawyer after you meet, you might want to look elsewhere.

Next, you need to find this person. If you already have an attorney for other issues, see who he or she recommends. If you use an accountant or tax professional, ask for recommendations. Otherwise, check with friends, family, and business associates.

If you do not want to talk to people you know, check your local telephone book, search online, check your state or local bar information, or ask at the courthouse. Your local court, or the bankruptcy court where you must file your paperwork, may be able to help you find this information if you are not able to locate it online.

Once you have decided on the lawyer you wish to see, make an appointment. You will meet with the lawyer for an interview to see if he can represent you.

The Initial Consultation

Some bankruptcy lawyers will speak with you for free or for little charge at the first interview. This first meeting, called an initial consultation, is very important.

During this meeting, you will decide if this is the person you want to hire. You will want to ask the attorney about his background and his experience with the type of bankruptcy you need to file. He should review your options with you and explain the best way for you to proceed.

You may want to take a list of questions with you. Some things you will want to cover include:

  • the lawyer's experience in bankruptcy
  • your bankruptcy options, along with and an explanation of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing criteria
  • which of your debts can be erased
  • what property you should be allowed to keep
  • how much the legal fees will be and when will they be due
  • how much any other fees will cost you, such as court costs and filing expenses

You may also need special assistance, such as handicapped accessibility, foreign language assistance, or weekend appointments. If you have specific requirements, be sure to mention them at the initial consultation to see if the lawyer can accommodate you.

You should also bring your paperwork with you. A bankruptcy lawyer want will need to see the following:

  • list of your all of your debt
  • list of your assets or property you own, such as vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, etc.
  • copy of the deed to your home or other property
  • proof of income, such as tax returns and paycheck stubs
  • recent correspondence or notes you made as you have talked to debt collectors or your creditors

You might also wish to bring a pen and paper to take notes or to write down the lawyer's answers to your questions.

When you meet with the attorney, you should dress neatly and appropriately. Be polite. Answer questions honestly and do not take offense.

Lawyers have strict confidentiality rules and your information will be safe, even if you do not hire the first lawyer you speak with. All information you share will be held in strict confidence.

As you speak with the bankruptcy lawyer, ask yourself if you like the person and feel comfortable with him or her. You will be working with this person for some time, so it is important that you have a good relationship and good communication.

If you feel confident that this is the person who will best represent you, then you will be ready to make your decision. If you have doubts or concerns, you may want to continue your search.

Once you have interviewed several lawyers and made up your mind, you will be ready to move forward so that you can move forward with the necessary steps that will enable you to regain your financial footing in the long term.

Related Information - Bankruptcy Lawyer

An Introduction to Bankruptcy

More about Help from a Bankruptcy Attorney

How to File for Bankruptcy

Types of Bankruptcy

Life after Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy and Credit Card Debt

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