What to look for in a bankruptcy attorney
A bankruptcy case can get very complex, especially because all of a person’s financial records will be laid out for their bankruptcy trustee and the judge. Sensitive money matters like this can get overwhelming for anyone. That is why a bankruptcy attorney is very important to have when filing for bankruptcy. But that doesn’t mean that people should just hire any lawyer they come across.
A lot of things matter when looking for a bankruptcy attorney — the experiences, expertise, and qualifications of one can either make or break a bankruptcy case. People must do their due diligence to look for a lawyer that’s right for them. Here are some factors to consider:
1. Location of practice
Bankruptcy courts are often individualized by jurisdiction, which means that a person can only file in a particular court, depending on where they live. The differences in divisions is owing to the fact that there may be different local rules and practices followed by the bankruptcy court in different areas. The trustee, judge, and other professionals who are assigned to a bankruptcy case will often be a local practicing in a particular division as well.
It’s highly preferable that a bankruptcy attorney practices in the subject division and locality. This is to ensure that the lawyer will be more familiar with the local rules and best practices, the professionals who will be privy to the case, etc.
2. Individualized, personal service
Most lawyers operate under the name of their law firms. The bigger and more reputable the firm is, the higher the chance that they are handling hundreds of bankruptcy cases a month. Because of this work load, lawyers from big law firms usually turn their tasks over to associates or other firm attorneys.
If a bankruptcy client’s priority is to get individualized, personal service, they are better off with smaller firms or individual lawyers. With a lawyer who doesn’t handle a tremendous workload for their firm, they can better provide a customized approach tailored to a client’s needs. They also handle most cases themselves, which means that a client won’t be juggling several lawyers or moving from one to another during their case.
Of course, the most important thing that a bankruptcy client should consider when looking for a lawyer is their budget. Legal counsel can get expensive, but the costs are worth it, considering that a lawyer can help achieve the best results. It’s cheaper to have a lawyer than to risk the monetary repercussions of losing and failing to receive a discharge.
However, the cost of the lawyer’s services should not be viewed as an individual factor. It also needs to be aligned with a lawyer’s skills, their success record when it comes to bankruptcy cases, and personality traits that align with the client’s.
4. Track record
Bankruptcy cases are heavy on procedural rules — the courts take these very seriously as well. When even just a single form is not filed or is filed inaccurately, several issues can arise and a person would have to file amendments or retake multiple hearings. There’s also the bigger risk of not receiving a discharge or a plan not getting confirmed by the court.
This is where the importance of finding a seasoned attorney comes in. With an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, a client can be confident that they know the procedural rules involved in a bankruptcy case — whether it be a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Experienced lawyers can advise their clients on the best course of action, the type of bankruptcy case that should be filed, the qualifications of the client to file the case, any issues they might face, etc.
A person should conduct their due diligence when looking for an attorney to help them with their bankruptcy case. This guarantees the best results and ensures that the client’s financial goals are achieved.