All lawyers in the United States may have the same title — attorney at law — but that doesn’t mean all lawyers are equally well suited to take on certain kinds of cases. Because the law is so vast, most lawyers tend to focus more narrowly on a few (sometimes even just one) area. It’s important to keep this in mind when you’re looking to choose a bankruptcy attorney, as only a few of the best law firms will truly be offering what you need. Here are four things you absolutely must look for in a bankruptcy attorney:
- Transparent Pricing
Paying a lawyer for services may be hard, especially since you’re presumably already suffering from money troubles (or else you wouldn’t be looking to file for bankruptcy in the first place). That means it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. In most cases, you’ll pay a flat fee, which you should ensure covers the initial filing plus your reorganization plan if you’re filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Representation for any resulting litigation — if your creditors decide to come after you — is generally not included in this fee.
- Extensive Experience
It’s very important that your bankruptcy attorney be experienced dealing with these matters and up to date on the changes that have been made to the system since 2005. Some states offer special certifications for bankruptcy lawyers, so you’ll want to see if that’s something your state does or not. If not, you can ask questions such as what percentage of a prospective attorney’s practice deals with bankruptcy cases.
- Personal Interest
Experience is important, but you also want to make sure you’re not getting run through a bankruptcy mill. These law firms do nothing but pump out as many bankruptcy filings as possible, and tend to give their clients very little individual guidance. Make sure you’ll be getting some personalized attention so you’ll be able to get back on your feet financially as soon as possible.
- Mutual Respect
It’s very important that your attorney listens to you, hears your concerns and addresses them promptly and professionally. You’re the client, and you should expect a certain level of “customer service,” even though your lawyer is also a professional. You should never feel intimidated about asking questions or making suggestions.
Do you have any tips to share on choosing top law firms? Join the discussion in the comments.