Tips for Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney
- Don't allow your case to be shuffled
to an attorney with whom you are not comfortable, or to any attorney
further "down the ladder" than the one with whom you have had
your initial consultation. Most likely, you will be getting an attorney
with a lesser degree of experience. Ask your attorney if he is the one
who will go to court for you. Ask him if he is the one who will be
handling any unforeseen problems that may arise in your case. "Case
shuffling" will never occur in this office.
- Get your attorney to give you a fee
agreement in writing. The agreement should contain exactly what
is included in the fee and what is not. Do not take any attorney's word
that "we will work out fees later". Ask him to candidly
discuss possible future fees for problems that may (and frequently do)
arise in your case. Remember to ask him if he will be charging part of
his fee "under the plan". A fee taken under the plan is not
merely an extension in time to pay your attorney. It may be a hidden
cost, since the extension to pay under the plan is not free; the trustee
charges about 10% for his services. Also, remember that bankruptcy
schedules and Plans often must be amended at least once. What will be
his fee? Once a fee is set by our office, there is never an
additional charge for phone calls, office consultations, normal
document preparation, or court time that was not expressly spelled out
in your fee agreement.
- Bankruptcy Court Rules require that
all fees be declared to the court at the inception of the case, or later
approved by it. Fees to be charged by our office are always in
writing and you are encouraged to request a description of all of our
- Look for an attorney with experience
in foreclosures, Chapter 13 filings, and in handling complications with
case management. Don't accept an attorney who handles just a small
number of cases a year. We have been handling bankruptcy cases on a
regular basis since 1979.
- Insist on an attorney who answers all
your questions in your own language. Nothing should be "glossed
over". If a subject is treated lightly by your attorney, ask why.
If he is going too fast, ask him to slow down. It is important that you
understand, so don't be afraid to ask
questions -- that's your job!
- Insist that your attorney return your
phone calls within a reasonable period of time. Repeated unreturned
phone calls could costs you your home or other important property
through neglect. Chapter 13 cases require management and close
cooperation between attorney and client.
- Get your attorney to give you written
instructions. Most people quickly forget their rights and obligations in
complex cases. Bankruptcy is a complicated matter, even for lawyers.
Paper is a cheap commodity!
- Remember, you are the boss; not your
attorney. You can choose whomever you wish and change at any time as
long as you comply with your contract with your present attorney (that
is, if you already have one).
Future bankruptcy lawyer...(circa 1957).