Lawyers love semantics, like the difference between a “cheap” bankruptcy attorney and an ‘affordable” bankruptcy attorney. Of course, everyone wants affordable bankruptcy advice and counsel. An affordable bankruptcy attorney charges a legal fee that is reasonable and fits your budget. On the other hand, a cheap bankruptcy attorney offers legal services that cost less than the affordable bankruptcy attorney, but the representation is not as good. By hiring a cheap bankruptcy attorney you get what you pay for: low cost, low quality representation.
Below are a few ways to ensure that you receive quality legal representation:
No Hidden Fees
Bankruptcy attorneys must disclose their fees up front and in writing to their clients. An agreement from a cheap bankruptcy attorney that includes a laundry list of extra fees should cause concern. Experienced bankruptcy attorneys identify extra work and potential trouble before filing your case. In fact, charging you additional fees after your case could violate the bankruptcy automatic stay and may be an unethical practice.
You wouldn’t go to a dentist to treat a concussion, right? Make sure that your bankruptcy attorney is knowledgeable and experienced in bankruptcy law. Bankruptcy is a complex area of the law, and navigating the interplay between federal and state laws, local rules, and court customs can mean the difference between a fresh start and a false start in your bankruptcy case. Not all attorneys have the knowledge and experience to identify the issues and potential trouble areas that your case presents.
Some cheap bankruptcy attorneys will charge low fees and then pass your case off to a paralegal or junior attorney. There is nothing wrong with other skilled individuals working on your case, but the work should be supervised by the experienced attorney. If your attorney does not interview you during your first visit; review your case when you sign your bankruptcy petition and schedules; or attend your Section 341 Meeting of Creditors, you are not receiving quality, hand-on attention from your attorney.
Hiring a low cost attorney often means receiving low quality legal representation. Cheap attorneys often cut corners that may cost you the full benefits of the bankruptcy laws. Judges, bankruptcy trustees, and creditor attorneys know who the “cheap” attorneys are, and treat these attorneys with less respect that attorneys who zealously advocate for their clients. Altogether, the cheap attorney may save you a few dollars, but you may miss out on bankruptcy advantages you are entitled to receive. Don’t take chances, avoid cheap attorneys and hire an affordable, experienced bankruptcy attorney.