So the time has come that you feel as if you need to explore bankruptcy. At least you want to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer about what bankruptcy would mean for you.
People often can’t see that finding a bankruptcy attorney does not mean you are going to file bankruptcy, it means you are going to talk to a professional about what bankruptcy would mean if you decide to go that route.
I always, always think that as part of any exploration to solve debt problems, meeting with a local bankruptcy attorney should be part of that process. You can’t weigh your options unless you explore them.
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If you would like for us to, we’d be happy to try to locate a local bankruptcy attorney for you in your area. We’ll just need a brief bit of information to start.
You Need to Know This About Bankruptcy
Article I, Section 8, of the United States Constitution authorizes Congress to enact “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies.” A fundamental goal of the federal bankruptcy laws enacted by Congress is to give debtors a financial “fresh start” from burdensome debts. The Supreme Court made this point about the purpose of the bankruptcy law in a 1934 decision:
[I]t gives to the honest but unfortunate debtor…a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt.
For more information about how bankruptcy works see All About Bankruptcy – Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
What Katie Said About Her Bankruptcy Experience
This is Katie again, I just wanted to touch base…its been over 6 months since my last post…and what a difference a little faith, time, and persistence can make.
I made the hard, but right, decision to declare bankruptcy. (Something I should have done years before, but instead of listening to my gut, I fell into the traps of a debt management program which was way over my head and totally unaffordable).
It was not a fun process, but it was not as difficult as I had imagined in all my late night episodes of stress and sleeplessness. My attorney was a good man. The phone calls stopped instantly, the rest of the process took a bit longer. The day in front of the trustee I was TERRIFIED…but surprised to see a room full of people who looked an awful lot like myself….ready to move on, ashamed of our mistakes, but not ashamed of who we are who or the right we have to a fresh start.
I can’t say I was celebrating following my meeting of the creditors, but I definitely felt a huge load of my back for the first time in years.
I have since been discharged…the attorney has been paid in full…My husband and I are living on cash and doing well, have some money (not much, but a little) saved…he has a great new job, and we have baby due in September….yikes!!!!!!
There is a light at the end….do not give up hope or be too hard on yourself.
Do yourself a favor…If you talk to a debt counseling agency about your options, I would suggest also meeting with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss them. Always best to get both sides ….and if you truly cannot afford the payment offered by a debt counseling agency, than DO NOT SIGN UP…you will spend to much time spinning your wheels and increasing your frustration.
Steve – I want to thank you again for your website…he really spoke to me on a day when I needed someone to understand. I cannot express to you enough how much it meant to me on that day in August last year to come across this page and read your words. They were a huge comfort to me on a horrible day during a difficult time in my life.
Thinking About Filing Your Own Bankruptcy Petition?
If you are thinking of filing your own bankruptcy petition without the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney, I would strongly advise you to not do this. The consequences and pitfalls for making a mistake are potentially very big.
Bankruptcy is a Process
Bankruptcy is a process. And a good bankruptcy lawyer is familiar with that process. For the most part it is a technical exercises and because of that, I feel, the most important aspect to look for is good communication. You want to make sure whatever bankruptcy lawyer you select treats you with kindness, professionalism, and compassion. This also extends to the office staff of the bankruptcy attorney as well. You need to make sure you feel comfortable contacting them and they properly care for you.
I asked some bankruptcy attorneys what they felt was important in selecting a bankruptcy attorney. here is what they said.
Advice from Bankruptcy Attorney – Mark
One thing that I would say right at the outset: don’t choose an attorney based on priced. You often get what you pay for. Most good attorneys charge about the same amount. If you find someone who is significantly below everyone else, you should think twice about why that might be.
As for what I’d look for in a good bankruptcy attorney: experience. How long has the attorney been practicing? If the client has a tough bankruptcy case, is the attorney qualified to handle it? During the initial intake process, did the attorney’s staff make it easy or make things difficult? You can learn a lot about a firm just by paying attention to the support staff — and how they treat you. If the support staff seems to have little patience or time for you, there’s a good chance your attorney will be similar. Pay attention.
Also, does your potential bankruptcy attorney do most of his or her work in the district that you reside in? There are a LOT of local rules that must be followed. If you’re not practicing in a particular district, there’s a good chance that you won’t know all of the little rules that are followed in that district. Cases are dismissed all the time because procedural rules are not followed properly. Something to think about.
Advice from Bankruptcy Attorney – Carl
As for advice specific to bankruptcy attorneys, I think the biggest mistake consumers make is the shop by price first. You want someone who cares about your case and has the time to devote to regardless of the price. There are plenty of bankruptcy mills that might be able to file your case for a low fee, but not necessarily get the most out of the bankruptcy process.
I am biased, but I think choosing a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys is important. I’ve never belonged to professional organization that has done more for my professional development AND been an advocate for the clientele of its members. There are plenty of good attorneys who are not NACBA members and not all NACBA members are good attorneys, but it is a good resource for both attorneys and debtors.
You want someone who makes bankruptcy one of their primary area of practice. When the reform law passed in 2005, a lot of the dabblers got out. I had done mainly creditor to work up to that point and I either had to get serious or get out. I decided to get serious, but now bankruptcy is “sexy” again as a practice area and people are drifting back in.
Some bankruptcy attorneys do not how to handle things like adversary proceedings, lien strips, cram downs, redemptions and a whole host of other things. Experience and results count.
Advice from Bankruptcy Attorney – Jeff
First and foremost, you want an attorney that works in the disctrict you will be filing in. Each district is different and there may be subtle differences in the Local Rules.
Experience is always crucial, but more importantly is whether the attorney does primarily bankruptcy work. Bankruptcy is very complex with some very short time commitments. It is difficult to provide services in other areas and stay on top of your bankruptcy case load. For example, our Local Rules have just changed, requiring deficient filings and other required documents to be filed no later than 14 days after the case is filed.
An area we pride ourselves in is having an attorney speak directly with the prospective client during the initial contact. Prospective Clients can plan on spending 15 to 20 minutes asking and answering quetions with our attorneys. Our goal is to quickly understand the issues and make a determination on which chapter is appropriate to file under. We can then also provide a quote of the fees the prospective client will be charged. If we are unsure after the initial phone conversation, we will let the prospective client know and quote them two separate prices (Ch 7 and Ch 13).
I personally believe that being able to speak directly to an attorney is priceless. Clients can get a good idea if they want to work with this attorney. If a client calls a firm and the intake is done by someone other than an attorney, then the client may not have enough information to make a good decision about hiring that firm. We strongly believe we are retained over other local attorneys because of the fact that when a client calls they are talking to an attorney that will engage them, understand their position, and give them good feedback.
I also think you should consider meeting with at least two bankruptcy attorneys face-to-face to decide which is best for you. Now, you may feel embarrassed or ashamed about your situation, but trust me, a good bankruptcy lawyer has seen just about every situation and is not there to judge you. Bankruptcy attorneys are there to help you.
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Once you have found a local bankruptcy attorney and you have a meeting scheduled, make sure your spouse or partner goes with you to the meeting. Things will work out better if you are both there, if married, to ask all your questions and both hear the answers.
What to do After the Meeting With the Bankruptcy Lawyer
After you meet with the bankruptcy attorney, do nothing. Don’t commit to filing bankruptcy or not filing bankruptcy at the end of that free consultation appointment. I suggest you go home and sleep on what you learned. The next day you can then decide to move ahead if you think it is a good option for you.
The only reason to rush into a bankruptcy filing is if your home is one the auction block in the next few days and you need to file bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure sale.
After a day or so, if you feel bankruptcy is right for you then take action and get the process moving forward. If you can’t afford the bankruptcy fees all at once, talk to the bankruptcy attorney and ask about installment or payment plans to help you get the ball rolling.
Bankruptcy Attorneys I Really Like
Here is a listing of bankruptcy attorneys I really like and who have been great friends to this site. These folks are just really great people in my book.
- Carl Starrett, II: Serving: The greater San Diego area.
- Jeff Jackson: Serving Counties of Delaware ● Franklin ● Union ● Morrow ● Logan ● Knox ● Madison and the communities of: Bellefontaine ● Columbus ● Dublin ● Delaware ● London ● Marysville ● Mount Gilead ● Mount Vernon ● Powell ● Westerville ● Worthington
- Dan Nunley: Serving Eastern Oklahoma in cities including Bartlesville, Bixby, Bristow, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Cleveland, Collinsville, Glenpool, Grove, Henryetta, Jay, Jenks, Mannford, McAlester, Muskogee, Owasso, Pawhuska, Pryor, Sapulpa, Sand Springs, Skiatook, Tahlequah, Tulsa, Vinita and counties including Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, Leflore, Love, Mayes, McCurtain, McIntosh, Marshall, Murray, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pittsburgh, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington.