Filing for bankruptcy can be a confusing process. A bankruptcy attorney will help you through the process while explaining the various types of bankruptcy options and fees. When you’re looking for a good bankruptcy lawyer, you should be prepared. Don’t just go with the first lawyer that seemed to make a good impression: ask these five questions to narrow your search.
- Should I file for bankruptcy?
This is a good place to start. The bankruptcy attorney will be able to tell you whether you should file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or whether you should file at all. Whatever the answer, it should be well-reasoned and explained. If the lawyer recommends that you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, she should be able to recommend an appropriate monthly plan payment and calculate the duration of your payment plan.
- Have you worked on bankruptcy cases similar to mine?
The last thing you want to do is waste money hiring a lawyer who isn’t familiar with the intricacies of your situation. While no two cases are identical, if a bankruptcy attorney has worked on a similar type of case, then she will be better equipped to help you.
- Does your practice take on a lot of bankruptcy cases?
Just because an attorney can practice bankruptcy law doesn’t mean their practice is wholly devoted to it. You might end up with a lawyer who dabbles in many types of law and happens to take on a bankruptcy case now and again. Your bankruptcy lawyer should have at least three years of experience under her belt in addition to dedicating at least half of her practice to bankruptcy law. Bankruptcy lawyers who handle many cases each month will know their way around the local trustees and procedures.
- How much will it cost to hire you?
There are a lot of fees associated with hiring a lawyer. Don’t be afraid to be frank about the costs. Ask the bankruptcy lawyer what her hourly rate fees are, in addition to whether or not there would be an up-front retainer. If you’re in a tight spot, ask whether the attorney would consider working for a flat fee instead of an hourly rate.
- Who will be working on my case?
Realistically, your case isn’t going to be handled by the attorney alone. Bankruptcy lawyers work with a team within the practice. While this is common among all types of law, there is one thing in particular that you need to be careful of when it comes to bankruptcy law: bankruptcy mills. A bankruptcy mill takes on too many cases, and since they don’t have enough attorneys to accurately handle them, the bulk of the work falls on the shoulders of non-attorneys. If paralegals will be handling your bankruptcy paperwork and the attorney mentions that she won’t be going to court with you, then you’re probably dealing with a bankruptcy mill.