How To Choose a Bankruptcy Attorney
If you find that you are having trouble meeting your financial obligations, you are not alone. In this very difficult economic time, many consumers are having trouble staying on track with bill payments. WalletHub recently reported that the average U.S. household is carrying a credit card balance of $7,854. The problem with unpaid debt is that it accumulates and multiplies. What seems like an enormous outstanding balance today can quickly become completely overwhelming.
Bankruptcy is a legitimate financial tool that can help consumers start over with a clean financial slate. Depending on a person’s income level and debt, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be most appropriate. There are many factors to consider; the first thing you should do is consult with a competent bankruptcy attorney. When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, don’t just search online for “bankruptcy attorney near me” and select the very first listing you see. Instead, spend some time doing some due diligence first. There are many attorneys who claim they can help. What follows are guidelines on how to choose the bankruptcy attorney who is best for you and who will guide you through the bankruptcy process. If you still have questions, contact us.
REASONS TO HIRE A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY
Bankruptcy is an official legal process. It is complex and detailed and involves many deadlines and procedures. While a bankruptcy attorney may not be required for an individual to file bankruptcy, legal representation is strongly recommended. There are many court forms to complete and documents to file. If not completed correctly, the bankruptcy procedure could be delayed, or an accusation of fraud could be made. In addition, a large percentage of bankruptcy cases that are filed by an individual pro se (which means without the assistance of an attorney) actually get dismissed by the courts.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST BANKRUPTCY LAWYER
To find the best bankruptcy lawyer for you, be prepared to spend a little time coming up with a list of potential attorneys and then meeting with them personally before making a decision. Here are some steps to follow:
- Make a list of local bankruptcy attorneys to evaluate. If you have a friend or relative who has declared bankruptcy, ask for a referral and add that attorney to your list. Another option is to Go to the NACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys). This site lists qualified, professional bankruptcy attorneys in your area.
- Make appointments with several bankruptcy lawyers. This is an opportunity to get to know each attorney’s personality, the size of their firm, their experience and fee structure and their expectations for the outcome of your situation in the bankruptcy process. Take note of whether your initial meeting is with a paralegal or an attorney. Your first meeting should be with a bankruptcy attorney. A paralegal is someone who assists an attorney in their work. If an attorney does not make time to meet with you personally, that speaks volumes.
- Prepare for your bankruptcy attorney appointment. Before your meeting, take the time to pull together all relevant documents and write out a list of questions. The more information you have available for the bankruptcy attorney, the more thorough their explanations and the better their advice.
- Ask questions of each bankruptcy lawyer. During the initial interview ask questions to help determine which attorney might be the best for your particular case. Here are some suggestions of questions to ask:
- What is your specialty? There are many kinds of law specialties such as family law, corporate law, or tax law. A qualified bankruptcy attorney concentrates most of their practice in bankruptcy law.
- How many Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases do you handle each year? Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy each has different qualifications and consequences. An experienced attorney who has filed many cases may help guide you to a better result.
- What is your fee structure? If it sounds too good to be true, maybe it is. You don’t have to choose the attorney with the highest fee since sometimes the court will limit the amount an attorney can charge. However, it is not advisable to choose an attorney just because their fee is the lowest.
- What is the bankruptcy process like and how long do you expect it will take? A reputable attorney will listen carefully to better understand your unique situation and will also provide you with a frank assessment of your options.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY
Although meeting with each attorney on your list and asking questions is important, it is also advisable to do some additional research. Here are some important aspects to investigate:
- Reputation – Even if a family member or friend referred you to a particular attorney, you should check their online reputation. Review the law firm’s website for additional information as well. Check where and when each attorney took the bar exam and which school each attorney attended. This additional information will help you choose a bankruptcy lawyer who can help you successfully handle your case.
- Experience – When selecting a bankruptcy attorney, find out how long they have been practicing and verify that they are licensed in the state of Maryland. Also, ask if they have specific experience handling a case similar to yours.
- Professionalism – Check the law firm’s website and ensure it is professional. Determine if the bankruptcy attorney has a receptionist or just a call center. A professional bankruptcy lawyer will make the time to meet with you in person or virtually. Note how much time the attorney spends with you, how they interact with you and whether you feel that you are treated respectfully.
- Compassion – Financial difficulties impact people from all walks of life. An attorney who is compassionate will have the perspective to better understand the nuances of your particular situation and thereby can better advise to help you achieve the best outcome.
DON’T DELAY IN SELECTING A MARYLAND BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY
Following the guidelines listed above will help ensure a smooth process for choosing a bankruptcy attorney. Sirody & Associates has an excellent reputation as evidenced by our high Google Business review rating and A+ rating with the BBB. Over the past 25 years, our bankruptcy lawyers have helped thousands of Marylanders successfully file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 7 bankruptcy and get their finances in order. Our firm prides itself on professionalism and compassion. We will meet with you personally and take the time to fully understand your unique situation. Bankruptcy protection can offer a fresh start. Investing time to select the best legal representation will keep the process as stress free as possible. Contact us to learn more about your options.