Choosing the Right Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help You Win Your Case
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The larger majority of these people opt to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help them through the bankruptcy process and get them the best deal possible.
If you need a bankruptcy attorney and don’t quite know what to look for and how to find one, then here are a few tips to help you:
Types of Bankruptcy Attorneys
There are basically two types of bankruptcy attorneys:
- Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys: Those who specialize in dealing with individuals who file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies
- Business/Commercial Bankruptcy Attorneys: Those who specialize in dealing with companies and businesses who file for either Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 bankruptcies
Attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy cases are actually qualified to handle both consumer as well as commercial bankruptcy cases. However, since there are certain differences in the procedures, laws and regulations, attorneys invariably end up selecting one specific area of bankruptcy.
How can I find a Bankruptcy Attorney?
There are numerous resources available today that can help you find a bankruptcy attorney.
The ABA only lists attorneys who meet their stringent standards of eligibility. You can go through their database of attorneys and look for those who specialize in consumer bankruptcy cases.
The NACBA is meant exclusively for consumer bankruptcy attorneys.
You can also check with your state’s bar associations to find a bankruptcy attorney to help you with your case.
There are two ways to search for a bankruptcy attorney online. The first is through a regular search engine.
Another way is through an online legal referral service. There are now many website on the internet that offer referral services of all kinds of attorneys.
The thing you need to be careful about when using either of these options are that most of these attorneys have paid to be in those lists, so there is absolutely no guarantee of quality or experience.
- Personal Referrals
A lot of good bankruptcy attorneys get clients through word-of-mouth referrals. You can ask your friends and family whether they know any good bankruptcy attorneys. However, be prepared for the fact that your financial situation is not going to be a private matter anymore.
- Bankruptcy Attorneys for low-income families
If your family’s income is less that the prescribed Federal poverty guidelines, then you could qualify for free legal services from non-profit organizations like The Legal Aid Society or Legal Services Corporation. You can also check with the state bar associations’ pro bono services.
However, you need to remember that each organization will have its own eligibility criteria before they accept your case.
How to Select a Bankruptcy Attorney
Now that you know how to find a bankruptcy attorney, here are a few tips to help you select one:
- Do not choose an attorney who is not a specialist.
Attorneys specialize in areas for a reason. Every area the law is full of complications and fine print. Only a specialist could understand all nuances of that aspect of the law.
Don’t feel scared to ask your prospective attorney questions. Ask him about his training and qualifications. A bankruptcy certification from the American Board of Certification is a good indicator of expertise. A NACBA affiliation would also be a good sign.
- A good attorney will also discuss alternatives to bankruptcy.
If your attorney is truly good, he will first explore all other options with you and look at filing for bankruptcy only as a last resort.
- Do not hire an attorney from a bankruptcy mill
A bankruptcy mill is pretty much a legal assembly line. Most of the time, you won’t even meet your attorney until well after your case has been filed.
Look for an attorney who is willing to spend time with you and focus on your case.
- Hire someone you are comfortable with
You will be sharing some pretty personal details with this person and he will be giving you some pretty difficult advice regarding your financial situation. Choose someone you can be comfortable with.