Finding a Great Bankruptcy Attorney

Finding a great bankruptcy attorney does not have to be a difficult process as long as you use some common sense, ask smart questions and follow a plan.

Clarify Your Situation

Bankruptcy can offer relief for people facing enormous amounts of debt, but not all debts are dischargeable
(student loans for example). Knowing exactly what you’re facing and what your major concerns are is critical to your search.

This means creating a list of all of your creditors, along with the (at least approximate) amounts owed. Your list should include all of your debts, even if you are not planning to include them under the bankruptcy umbrella. People seek bankruptcy protection for different reasons (overwhelming medical bills, a failed business, etc.) and you will want an attorney familiar with the problems you are experiencing.

It’s also important to jot down exactly what your expectations are in filing for bankruptcy.  Many people do not understand what bankruptcy will and will not do for them, so this is clearly an important point of discussion with your lawyer.

Develop a List of Potential Bankruptcy Attorneys

The next thing to do is get the names of attorneys in your area.  There are both private referral services and services run by the Bar Associations.  However, the best referrals usually come from your own friends, family members or trusted associates. Yes, it may be somewhat uncomfortable to discuss your financial situation with these individuals,  but chances are that someone you know has dealt with this very same issue and may be able to offer up the name of a good attorney.

Often times, lawyers themselves will be willing to offer referrals if it is for services they themselves do not provide.  A family attorney may not want to handle your case, but may be able to suggest an excellent attorney based on their own experiences.

Interview the Attorneys on Your List

Make appointments to meet with the lawyers on your list.  Many will offer a free initial consultation, however, do not be put off if an attorney charges you for the first meeting.  He or she may be the one you need to handle your case.

You should not be afraid to ask detailed questions when you consult with the bankruptcy attorney, especially for the first time.  How long have you specialized in bankruptcy law? What is your fee schedule? Will you be handling my case personally or will it be handed over to an associate or paralegal? All of these are legitimate questions to go over before delving into the details of your particular situation.

Remember, the attorney will be working for you. You should feel comfortable asking anything as it pertains to your case.  Never allow an attorney to discount your questions or discredit concerns.  This process can, and should have a major impact on your life and you deserve to have the best advice presented in a clear, concise way.

The lawyer you are considering to hire should listen to you carefully and be prepared to offer suggestions, explain the potential consequences of those suggestions and offer alternatives.  A good bankruptcy attorney will always put his client’s needs first and may very well offer an alternative to bankruptcy that you may not have considered.

Check References and Professional Organizations

Check out your attorney with the state Bar Association and the local bankruptcy courts. Does this person seem respected? Have there ever been any issues related to the attorney?  With all of the online resources available, you should have no trouble checking up on licensing and disciplinary actions involving your potential attorney.

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