Most people are at a loss when it comes to filing bankruptcy, especially when hiring a bankruptcy attorney. Often, debtors feel the need to rush into choosing a lawyer. Because of this rush, people may choose an attorney based on their ad or their prices, or because they were the first name that popped up in a lawyer search. However, this is not the right way to go. An attorney should be chosen based on their reputations and credentials. There are certain things people should consider before working with any lawyer.
One major, and ever important consideration is cost. Fees can vary from lawyer to lawyer, and even from state to state. For example, a bankruptcy lawyer in Baltimore may charge $1600 while one in New York charges $2200. However, this does not mean that these two people don’t provide the same service. There are certain services that a lawyer should provide no matter their price. The only thing that varies is how well these services are provided. Most lawyers use a basic agreement for Chapter 13, personal reorganization or a Chapter 7, liquidation.
In Chapter 7 cases, clients pay a flat fee for analysis of their financial situation, consultation, meetings and follow-ups with creditors, preparation of a bankruptcy petition, and petition review. For chapter 13 cases, the agreement is the same but includes confirmation hearing representation and the creation of a reorganization plan. When hiring a bankruptcy lawyer, debtors should make sure that all of these services are included in their flat fee. Because, other fees may arise, such as one for representation in an adversarial proceeding.
Another major consideration is finding an attorney who practices bankruptcy law exclusively. Any lawyer can take a bankruptcy case, but most debtors are better served by a bankruptcy lawyer in Baltimore who has extensive experience or exclusive interest in the field. However, this doesn’t mean that a person should seek the help of a bankruptcy mill. These are firms that handle a lot of cases with little or no regard for clients’ personal needs. This is where it’s better to do some research by reading or listening to the experience of others. For even more help, debtors can use their state’s bar association to find recommended attorneys in the field. After all, hiring an attorney for any purpose is a major decision that should be handled with careful consideration.