Though the thought of filing for bankruptcy may be one fraught with fear and nervousness, having an experienced professional to guide you through the process may make the prospect of Bankruptcy Court a bit more palatable. But is an attorney really necessary to declare bankruptcy? Where do you start looking for an attorney? How do you know if you've found the right one? The following are some things to consider in determining whether hiring a bankruptcy attorney is the right decision for you:
Those who work in the field would probably advise that those filing for bankruptcy always need a lawyer. Lawyers spend years not only learning the law, but representing a myriad of clients in court and learning every nook and cranny of how a given area of law works. Certainly, having a competent attorney to lead you through the process, advise you of legal requirements, and take care of the paperwork and filing fees can take much of the stress out of any court procedure. Additionally, if you're unsure whether you should file for bankruptcy or what type of bankruptcy is appropriate for you, speaking to a lawyer about your options is always a good idea.
However, if you have few assets to your name and relatively few creditors, your bankruptcy filing may be simpler than you thought. By the same token, if you have significant assets and a good amount of creditors, you might be looking at a far more complicated process than you first envisioned. If you are unsure as to whether or not you need a lawyer, your best bet is to go to the Clerk of U.S. Bankruptcy Court's office and find out what you will need to file and what kind of information you need to provide in order to put your case in motion. This should give you a pretty good idea if you are up to the task or if you're in over your head. When in doubt, it's always a good idea to have a competent attorney at your side.
There are many ways in which to find a reputable and competent bankruptcy attorney. One of the best ways to find a good attorney in any area of law is by word of mouth. If you know someone who completed a bankruptcy and found the procedure less than painful, ask them for how to contact their attorney. Additionally, most municipal, county, and state bar associations maintain a listing of experienced attorneys in every area of law, many of whom will waive their usual fee for an initial consultation. Finding a bankruptcy lawyer online is the easiest way to meet with several attorneys. You can click here to be connected with qualified bankruptcy lawyers in your area. Finally, as court clerks frequently have contact with attorneys either in court or when filing paperwork, the Clerk of U.S. Bankruptcy Court's office in your area may prove a valuable resource. Ask if the Clerk's office near you can recommend a few attorneys who concentrate in bankruptcy law.
No matter what kind of legal action you are engaged in, the most important thing to look for in an attorney is someone with whom you feel comfortable and who facilitates communication. Attorneys who are never available by phone and who never seem to have time to speak with their clients are usually overworked or avoiding something. A good attorney will generally return phone calls within 24 hours and will make time to sit down with their clients to explain any progress in their case at a client's request.
Because bankruptcy is a somewhat technical area of law, you also want an attorney who has taken several bankruptcy cases from inception to completion. Such an attorney will readily be able to answer any questions you may have about the bankruptcy process and will probably not have to look up much, if any, information during your discussion. If an attorney seems confused or unsure regarding bankruptcy law or procedure, it's probably best to find another attorney.