Choosing The Right Bankruptcy Lawyer
There are thousands of attorneys who practice law in the State of Mississippi. But you are in a very unique situation if you are considering bankruptcy – you do not want a personal injury lawyer or criminal defense lawyer to represent you. You do not want a corporate attorney who knows a little bit about bankruptcy to represent you and you certainly do not want a new attorney who is going to use your case as a learning experience. Finally, you might want to stay away from bankruptcy factories. They file so many cases that you are just another number to them.
You need an attorney experienced in bankruptcy law and bankruptcy litigation who is going to fight for you. Tough times call for a tough attorney and when you are facing bankruptcy you need the best lawyer around to fight for you. You want a lawyer who is experienced in consumer bankruptcy law. Remember, this is your life we are talking about and you deserve to have the best and the most experienced attorney you can find on your side. A good bankruptcy lawyer is an investment for a better future and a fresh start. The attorney you choose can make a big difference in the outcome of your bankruptcy.
Just like the practice of medicine is complex and specialized, so is the practice of law. Make sure you hire a bankruptcy lawyer with experience in bankruptcy. You would not go to a foot doctor for heart surgery, and you should not hire a divorce attorney, personal injury attorney, or any other type of lawyer to represent you in bankruptcy.
You want and attorney with whom you feel comfortable. You will be sharing a good deal of personal information and it is important that you can trust your lawyer. You want to know that you can call or email your bankruptcy lawyer and that you will get a timely response. You want to know that your bankruptcy attorney will keep you informed about the status and progress of your case.
The point is that this is a team effort. If you do not do your part, I assure you that you will not get the best outcome under the circumstances. So, be prepared to be a partner with your lawyer and your results will be far better.
So, what are the key things you need to look for and ask for when you are searching for a bankruptcy lawyer?
- Ask around. A referral from a trusted friend or family member who has been through bankruptcy is a good place to start. This method is not always perfect. Not everyone wants to share the fact that they filed for bankruptcy and you may not want to share the fact that you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney. But remember, no matter how nice or well-known an attorney may be, unless he or she specializes in bankruptcy law, you do not need them.
- How long has the attorney been practicing bankruptcy law? The lawyer should have more than 10 years of experience. This ensures that the lawyer has been around long enough to learn about every issue and problem that you may be facing, and the laws and strategies to deal with them.
- Experience. You want an attorney who has a proven track record of handling bankruptcy cases. You do not want to be some lawyer’s guinea pig.
- Special skills and knowledge. Is the attorney a specialist and expert in bankruptcy or does he or she do a little bit of everything? You want an attorney that does consumer bankruptcy related cases and nothing else.
- What bankruptcy consumer law groups and associations does the attorney belong to? You want a bankruptcy lawyer who stays on the cutting edge of bankruptcy law and who actively networks with other bankruptcy lawyers in Mississippi and across the country. You have a lot at stake and bankruptcy law is currently evolving very quickly. So, it is important that your attorney continues to educate himself or herself so that they can represent you in the best way possible. Some nationally-recognized bankruptcy organizations are the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA), and Max Gardner’s Bankruptcy and Mortgage Litigation Boot Camps. These organizations are on the cutting edge of bankruptcy, consumer and mortgage litigation. NACBA is the largest nationwide organization of bankruptcy lawyers who represent consumers in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 proceedings. Members take their job seriously, and routinely spend hundreds of hours each year working together to gain the highest level of understanding of the bankruptcy laws. They are well-informed and have a network of colleagues nationwide at the ready to help out in difficult cases.
- How about other continuing education? Bankruptcy lawyers who are serious about providing the best possible representation to their clients continue to educate themselves throughout the year by attending seminars and training courses put on by NACBA and NACA. Some of the top bankruptcy lawyers in the country are also graduates of the prestigious Max Gardner Bankruptcy Boot Camp.
- Do they share knowledge in a way you can understand? Blogging, writing, and online publishing is more important now than ever before, as professionals share information and educate the public about issues that concern them. Bankruptcy lawyers who maintain their own websites and blogs are proving that they are knowledgeable enough to help others understand this difficult field of law.
- Know who will be handling your case. Are you meeting with a paralegal or secretary instead of an attorney? Are you able to meet with the attorney at every appointment? Can you get the attorney on the telephone? You also need to ask which lawyer will be handling your file. The attorney you interview with may not be the one who will handle your bankruptcy or show up for you in court, so ask who will be doing so.
- Ask about fees. Get the best estimate you can as to how much the fees and cost will be.
- Do not make a decision based upon the fee. Do not go for the cheapest lawyer. Although money is clearly important you also want to make sure you are getting a bankruptcy attorney who can do the best job for you and that is not necessarily the cheapest. Some areas of the law are more complex than others. Bankruptcy is one of the complex areas. Mistakes can have huge negative consequences. This is an area where the saying “you get what you pay for” holds true.
- Do other attorneys look to this lawyer for training and guidance? There is a difference between a lawyer in an ivory tower who sits with is books…and someone who gets out there and helps other lawyers do a better job. If a lawyer teaches other lawyers, he or she is more likely to help you understand your situation and your options.
- Is this attorney a jack-of-all-trades, or a master of bankrutpcy law? You do not want an attorney who dabbles in bankruptcy or someone who does a little bankruptcy along with a little of this and that. You need someone thoroughly versed in the complex field of bankruptcy and who has an established reputation for fighting for his clients. You want someone who does bankruptcy and only bankruptcy.