Finding and Choosing the Right Bankruptcy Lawyer

attorney, Information 20 Comments

So you’re preparing to file bankruptcy.

Despite the social stigma, there’s nothing to be ashamed of – thousands of people (possibly millions, worldwide) have filed for bankruptcy, and many more will do so. Now that you’ve made this momentous decision, it’s time to get to work.

Step one:

Find the right bankruptcy lawyer.

Is it as easy as simply looking up “Bankruptcy Lawyers” online? Actually, it’s easier. You can search the American Bar Association website for a full directory of lawyers by state to locate one close to you.

Once you’ve identified the law offices in your area, you’ll want to spend some time with each one to help inform your decision. Think of it like a job interview – you’re hiring them to work for you so you want the best, most qualified candidate, and make sure, like any employer, you’re going to get the most for your money.

As you research bankruptcy attorneys in your area, keep in mind the following points:

  • How long have they been practicing bankruptcy law?
    • Also, how long have they been practicing in your area?
  • How many bankruptcy cases do they handle every month?
  • What is their fee structure like?
  • Are they up to date on any and all code changes?

Time on the job is important, but more important is that they have been practicing in your area. Every state has their own nuances in bankruptcy law, and every judge is unique with their own quirks about them. If you meet a lawyer who has been practicing for 30 years, but has only been in your area for a few months, you might want to keep looking – chances are they’re not entirely familiar with the local judiciary and may still be learning the specifics for your state.

The number of cases they handle is also important because it also shows familiarity with trustees, judges, and court procedures in your area. You don’t want to work with someone to whom you’re just another file – you deserve personal attention, and someone handling 30-40 cases a month isn’t going to have time to treat you like an human being.

Bankruptcy law has specific guidelines in place for what an attorney can charge to file, but some things to watch out for: Does the fee include preparation of the reorganization plan and representation at the hearing? How much of the fee will they ask for up-front? Do they have a payment plan to help you afford the legal costs? Regardless of whether you’re filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 (something you’ll want your potential attorney to help you decide), make sure their fees include consultation and analysis, preparing and reviewing the petition, attendance at meetings, and following up with your creditors to ensure that you don’t get hit with any post-filing collection attempts.

You’ll also want to make sure that whoever you work with is 100% on top of current updates to the law.  The most recent, big changes came when congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005, and as we’ve discussed before, every new administration inevitably brings new changes, so don’t be afraid to ask if they’re aware of any possible changes in the works.

Finally, stay away from bankruptcy mills. These places like to brag about their volume of cases and low fees, but you will definitely get what you pay for (and we don’t mean that in the good way).

Who you choose to handle your case is your business (and make no mistakes about it, bankruptcy law is a business). But having the right representative on your side, fighting for you, makes a tremendous difference in how easy the process is, and how you come out on the other side, so make sure you choose the right attorney for you.

Comments 20

  1. My husband and I are afraid that we are on the verge of bankruptcy, and we are wanting to be prepared if we end up needing to declare. It’s good to know that when it comes to hiring an attorney that specializes in this area, that there are some points that we need to keep in mind to ask. I like how you mentioned we should ask to make sure that they are up to date on any and all code changes, which will make me feel better since it will let us know that they are very experienced in this type of law.

    1. Harper,

      we’re so glad you found the information useful!

      If you do wind up filing for bankruptcy or have any questions about how it may impact your ability to finance a vehicle if you do, please reach out and we’ll be more than happy to assist.

  2. I do like that you remind your readers to ask about how long the bankruptcy attorney has been practicing. After all, bankruptcy law can be incredibly complicated and hard to follow. Because of that, you need to make sure that the attorney you choose is well experienced and knows how to properly handle a bankruptcy case.

    1. Callum,

      We could not agree more. Declaring bankruptcy is a pretty big decision that can significantly impact the filers financial future. Good to make sure that you’re going to be in good hands first.

  3. I appreciate that you mentioned a list of questions and points to remember and consider while choosing an attorney for bankruptcy. Everyone should always ask and find out how long they have been practicing bankruptcy law! I also think it is very important to find references from your area and research them to see if they are the best you can hire! Thanks for sharing this! I will definitely keep this information close for when I need it!

  4. I appreciate that you mentioned a list of questions and points to remember and consider while choosing an attorney for bankruptcy. Everyone should always ask and find out how long they have been practicing bankruptcy law! I also think it is very important to find references from your area and research them to see if they are the best you can hire! Thanks for sharing this! I will definitely keep this information close for when I need it!!

    1. Sarah,

      We’re glad you find it useful! Keep following our blog for more great resources like this. We’re talking about creating an attorney directory of attorneys that we work with to help improve the success of our clients and customers.

  5. Great article. I appreciate you mentioning that the right representative on our side makes a tremendous difference in the process, and I completely agree. If I was going bankrupt, I’ll make sure to hire the right bankruptcy lawyer. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Spencer,

      Yes! We believe that selecting the right lawyer can make all the difference. Someone’s financial future is nothing to mess around with.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I find the part about checking a free structure while choosing a lawyer especially useful. My friend is thinking of his own business, so in order to be sure of his financial safety I’ll share this useful information with him

  7. My husband and I have been thinking about filing for bankruptcy, but we are nervous about how to find a good lawyer. That is a good idea to ask them how many bankruptcy cases they handle a month. That would be a great way to see if they have a lot of experience! Thank you for all the tips!

  8. Thanks for your tip to find a bankruptcy lawyer by looking at options online. I like how you said that you should hire the one who is experienced and can help you have success. My friend is considering bankruptcy attorneys who are experienced and help him get a lot for what he is spending.

  9. Thanks for mentioning that someone who has to handle a lot of bankruptcy cases isn’t going to be able to treat your case personally. My husband and I might need to file, and we’re both really worried about it, so we want to find bankruptcy legal services that can ease our worries. Maybe we should look for a lawyer who isn’t really busy so he or she can devote their time to our case.

  10. I like that you mention knowing if they are up to date with recent code changes. My brother is looking to hire a bankruptcy attorney but needs tips. I’ll be sure to talk to him about finding a professional who is up to date with any code changes.

  11. I’m glad you suggested finding a lawyer that has been in your area for a while, so they know the local judges. I have been looking for someone to help me figure out what to do with my unpayable debt. I can see how it would be nice to find someone that has lived here for a long time. That way they might be able to help with any local laws I’m unaware of.

  12. It was really helpful that you mentioned how each state has their own nuances when it comes to bankruptcy, so it’s best to look for someone was already practising the law in the same area as where a person lives. That’s something that easy enough to take note of. A friend of mine is in need of a bankruptcy lawyer because his business didn’t go quite as successfully as he thought it will be. He needs someone to help him before his creditors start chasing after him. Thanks! At least, now I can help out.

  13. I appreciate your suggestion to find chapter 13 services who have been practicing bankruptcy law in your area for a while since each state has differences in this field. My sister and her husband are planning on filing for bankruptcy, and they are wondering how to find a good service to help them. I will be sure to tell them that they should try to find a firm that has been in business in the area for a while so that you can be sure they understand the state’s law fully.

  14. I like how the article explains that you should find an attorney who is currently up to date on all law changes. When I am looking for a lawyer I wouldn’t want to hire someone who isn’t up to date on all the changes, otherwise, they could mess up on an important part of the case. I will look into hiring an up to date bankruptcy attorney.

  15. Thank you for all of these wonderful tips on how to find the right bankruptcy lawyer for you. I completely agree that it’s crucial to find a lawyer that is experienced in your specific area. If our finances ever reach that situation, I will be sure to find a lawyer that specializes in both our situation and state’s laws.

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