How to find the right bankruptcy lawyer
At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, more than 1.4 million people filed for bankruptcy protection. As the US economy struggled to regain its footing, that number increased the following year. Nearly 1.6 million citizens filed for protection in federal courts in 2010, according to statistics released by the US Administrative Office of Courts.
Although filings have slowed down of late, tens of millions of Americans are in constant danger of being overwhelmed by debt. Not surprisingly, lawyers working in this field are in great demand. In this article, we will discuss exactly what these legal professionals do and how they can keep you from losing everything.
But before you start, no one wants to declare bankruptcy. Although quite common, filing is an incredibly unpleasant process. It’s also a public admission of failure, which is why few Americans do it willingly.
Why contact a lawyer?
Because the US Bankruptcy Code is incredibly complicated, people considering filing for protection should call a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Yes, a person can represent themselves in court, but it is rarely a good idea. Lawyers spend years poring over the dense language of the US tax code before going to court. A neophyte cannot compete. It is also important to note that if he makes even one mistake on his petition or files it incorrectly, your case could be summarily dismissed.
What to look for in a bankruptcy attorney
To begin with, the lawyer must be considered sufficient to offer a free consultation. After all, he is applying for protection because he can’t pay his bills. Paying consultation fees on top of what you will be charged for your case really is a waste. Fortunately, most of the best attorneys in the field offer free initial meetings. It is also best to talk to more than one legal professional before making a decision.
The most important consideration when looking for a bankruptcy attorney is experience. In other words, you must specialize in bankruptcy law. As we mentioned, the code that governs this area of legal practice is extremely complicated, and a lawyer who does not specialize in it may not be able to compete with those who do. It is also important to contact a professional in your area, as different states and regions may have different laws.
An experienced legal advisor must also be a great negotiator. Since most of these cases settle, it is important to ask about a potential lawyer’s success in negotiating favorable terms with specific examples.
Last but not least, it is important to consider the hourly rate. Because most cases take time, clients can end up owing a fortune if the lawyer charges a high fee. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask for a rough estimate before agreeing to anything. If you can afford the fees and the attorney seems to know what he’s doing, he may have found his match.