No one opens a credit card, starts a business or goes to the hospital with the intent of getting into debt. We spend or invest money with the expectation of attainment not to be harassed by creditors or eventually trapped by our own bad decisions. However, we are all human and we all make mistakes. Sometimes mistakes have an impact on the quality of our life.
As the saying goes, trouble is so easy to get in to and so difficult to get out of. If you find yourself in debt, it’s very easy to feel like there’s no way to avoid a life of endless collection calls and a limited ability to make important purchases. There is a way out. Bankruptcy, while seemingly drastic, can hold creditors at bay and allow you the time and space necessary to regain solid financial footing. However, finding the right bankruptcy lawyer will require more than a simple Google search.
Bankruptcy law is complex. Finding a lawyer with experience, and an understanding of new developments in the field and a true interest in the welfare of their clients is critical to rising above your circumstances. Below are a few tips to help you find the right bankruptcy lawyer.
1. Find someone who is experienced in bankruptcy law: Asking questions like “how many bankruptcy cases have you handled” and “what types of cases” should be among the first you ask when meeting an attorney. As previously mentioned, bankruptcy law is complicated. An attorney who is not familiar with the laws can be detrimental in this setting. It’s important to work with a lawyer who has handled a large number of cases. While your situation may not be complicated, you’ll have a great confidence knowing that an experienced bankruptcy attorney will understand how to handle it.
2. Find out what their fees include: First and foremost, most reputable bankruptcy lawyers will not advertise their fees or quote their fee over the phone. It’s impossible for them to know your personal situation or develop the best course of action without speaking with you first. According to AllLaw.com, the average bankruptcy attorney charges “$500 to $3,500, depending on the complexity of the case”. The law firm’s size and where in the country your bankruptcy takes place are factors as well. Most people seeking a bankruptcy attorney may use price as a deciding factor but be careful. Drastically lower prices may be an indicator that the attorney may not handle your case with the attention and care needed or that they don’t handle very many bankruptcy cases at all. A bankruptcy attorney’s fees are likely to include an initial consultation, the preparation of the bankruptcy petition; a review of the petition with the client; attendance at the 341 meeting (creditor meeting) and following up as necessary. Litigation is typically not included.
3. Watch out for the bankruptcy mill: Like so many things, bankruptcy law is a growing business. Since there is a tremendous need for these services, a growing number of “bankruptcy mills” have developed. These companies take in a great deal of cases and, quickly, move through their cases to achieve a fast resolution with little regard for individual client needs. These bankruptcy mills aren’t typically respected by the courts and could jeopardize your chances to receive a positive resolution. One indicator that you may be dealing with a bankruptcy mill is if your meet a paralegal instead of an actual lawyer in your initial consultation. With bankruptcy mills, you typically don’t encounter an actual lawyer until your meeting with your creditors.
4. Do your homework: When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, the best place to start is the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. Members of this organization are dedicated to the practice of bankruptcy and will likely represent you in the best possible fashion. To check if a lawyer is certified, visit your state’s bar association website to determine if a lawyer is certified to practice bankruptcy law, not applicable in every state. As always, recommendations from friends, family members and other lawyers are to be considered.
5. Will the lawyer give you a number of options: A good bankruptcy lawyer will always examine your situation intently and present you with options. Bankruptcy is not the answer in every situation. Sometimes a chapter 13 is not the answer either (lawyers typically profit more from chapter 13 cases).
6. Choose a lawyer who you feel good about: It sounds simple, but nothing is more important than finding a lawyer who you are comfortable with. Bankruptcy is an emotional, personal and individualized process. It’s critical that the bankruptcy lawyer that you choose shows a willingness to assess your situation properly and guide you to the best solution. Nothing else will do.
If you are experiencing a difficult financial dilemma and need a bankruptcy lawyer in the Tampa Bay area, contact the law offices of McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. We provide the counsel and care necessary to help in this challenging time. Visit us our contact us page or call us at 844-511-4800 to discuss your case.