Choosing a good attorney is critical to your bankruptcy success. You and your attorney will work together to restructure your finances and attain your fresh start. A good bankruptcy attorney can ensure that the process goes quickly and smoothly. Choosing the wrong attorney can cost you money and headaches. So what are the characteristics of a good bankruptcy attorney?
- Experience. Bankruptcy is a complex mix of federal and state statutes and regulations; federal and state case law; federal and local procedural rules; and local customs. Many times it’s also who you know. An experienced bankruptcy attorney knows the court clerks, local creditor attorneys, and the habits of the bankruptcy judges and trustees. This type of local experience can make a hard case easy and an easy case speed through the system.
- Involved. An experienced bankruptcy attorney with a good reputation will be involved in the legal community. Look for membership in professional organizations like the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and the American Bankruptcy Institute. Involvement in bankruptcy bar groups and committees are also indications of a good attorney.
- Accessible. It seems obvious that since you hired and paid your attorney, he or she works for you. Unfortunately, some busy bankruptcy offices place a paralegal between you and your attorney. Paralegals are an important resource, but your attorney should be readily available to answer your legal questions.
- Up Front Fees. A good attorney will take the time to explain his or her fee structure. Bankruptcy fees include the court filing fee, credit counseling and personal financial management fees, and the attorney fees. Since the attorney fees are often difficult to afford for someone in financial distress, a good attorney will explain the amounts up front and your payment options.
Bankruptcy law is a booming business. Good, experienced bankruptcy attorneys are easy to find, if you know where to look. Once you have narrowed your search, interview the attorney in-person. Your choice of a bankruptcy attorney is a serious matter and should be carefully considered, so get to know your attorney’s qualifications before you make a hiring decision.