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How to Choose a Bankruptcy Attorney

October 3, 2009

Choosing an attorney to represent you in a bankruptcy case is an important decision that deserves careful consideration. There are several key issues that you should focus on when selecting your bankruptcy counsel:

First, how much of the attorney’s practice is devoted to bankruptcy? Bankruptcy law is a complex mixture of federal law, state law, prior court cases, and the common practices of the bankruptcy court and the trustee. Often it is also important to be familiar with creditor practices and their attorneys. It is easy for an inexperienced attorney to make an easy bankruptcy case difficult, and a complicated case a complete disaster.

Second, how much will you pay? Call around before making an appointment. Bankruptcy attorneys are accustomed to receiving the “how much do you charge” phone call and are happy to clearly explain all of the fees involved in the bankruptcy case, including attorney fees. The qualified and experienced attorney will charge a fair and competitive price. You may also ask if there is a fee for the initial consultation.

Third, how often will you meet with your attorney? While some cases are very simple and will not require much attorney-client contact, your attorney should meet with you at least twice prior to filing your bankruptcy case: (1) during the initial appointment, and (2) at the time you sign your bankruptcy petition and schedules to ensure completeness and accuracy. Your attorney should also be available to answer questions, either by phone, in person, or by email.

Fourth, are you personally comfortable with the attorney? This attorney will act as your guide through financial difficulty to a fresh start. It is important that you have faith in the person you entrust with this important responsibility. A good bankruptcy attorney asks the right questions, listens to the answers, and provides honest advice. If you have doubts or reservations, walk away.

The choice of a bankruptcy attorney is an important decision and should not be made simply on the basis of cost or expediency. Take the time to choose your attorney and interview him or her for the job. A careful and considered choice may mean the difference between a fresh start and a false start.



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