Bankruptcy is a specialized area of law that can
be far more complex than appears on the surface. The issues
are not always apparent or simple. Pick a lawyer who can
help you work through the issues, alternatives and implications
of your choices.
Pick a lawyer with whom
you are comfortable, one whom you can ask questions and get
responses you understand.
Pick a lawyer who either
specializes in bankruptcy or does a large part of his/her
practice in the field.
Ask questions until you
understand what your choices are
Don't be afraid to
interview a lawyer and leave without retaining the lawyer
Finding that lawyer
Look for a certified specialist or a lawyer
with substantial experience in bankruptcy: a generalist can do
a simple bankruptcy, but may not be able to tell if your case is
truly "simple". See sources for certified specialists.
Local bar associations have referral panels of
bankruptcy lawyers. Find them in your phone book. Ask about
their experience with cases like yours.
Interview lawyers until you find one who suits
you. Ask how many cases like yours he/she handles a year, and
the length of time he/she has been practicing bankruptcy law.
Find someone with whom you communicate well. How to interview a
Get a written agreement for services
Understand what services are included in the
- are lien avoidance matters included?
- disputes with the trustee?
- non dischargeability actions?
Usually, the flat fee covers only the standard
services or the foreseeable issues in a bankruptcy case. Some
things, like whether there will be a challenge to the discharge
of a certain debt, can't be foreseen at the beginning of the
case, and may therefore trigger further fees.
Make the most of your lawyer's expertise
everything about your financial condition. Without all the
information, your rights cannot be protected. All too
often, information that a client withholds because they think it
is troublesome presents no problem, if disclosed. Failing to
tell the whole truth can create a problem where none existed
carefully the representation agreement, the draft schedules, the
court's notices and communications from your lawyer. Ask
questions if you don't understand at first; inaccurate or
incomplete information can have serious and unpleasant
promptly information and feed back when requested so that court
deadlines can be met.
for your case. You are the person with the best handle on the
facts of the case and the one most affected by the case's
outcome. Your lawyer can file a bankruptcy with you, but
not for you.