What to Ask a Bankruptcy Lawyer BEFORE Making a Hiring Decision
Before choosing an attorney you will need to write down a list of questions to ask prospective bankruptcy lawyers. These questions will help you determine if your bankruptcy attorney is the right one for you. If you hire an experienced attorney, the bankruptcy process will typically be easy and painless; conversly, a bad or inexperienced lawyer can turn the experience into a complete nightmare and you may lose the very property you are trying to save.
When interviewing bankruptcy attorneys, here are some essential questions you should ask:
- Is bankruptcy the right solution for my financial situation? If you are dealing with a competant bankruptcy lawyer, he or she will discuss your options with you. If there is another solution that will better meet your needs, your lawyer should tell you. If a bankruptcy attorney rushes you into paying a retainer without telling you about other solutions, keep looking.
- How can I benefit from filing bankruptcy? A prospective attorney should be able to explain the benefits of bankruptcy in simple, everyday terms. He or she should also be able to tell you about different types of bankruptcy, such as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and how each one would affect you.
- How many bankruptcy cases have you successfully handled? If your lawyer has taken on only a handful of cases in his or her career then you need to know that. Likewise, if your lawyer claims to have helped thousands of people in a career spanning many decades, that is useful information to have as well. A lawyer who handles only bankruptcy cases will often have a better knowledge of current laws than one who handles a lot of different types of cases.
- Will you attend my court appearances with me? If a paralegal will attend court hearings in your attorney’s place, you will want to choose a different lawyer. If your bankruptcy lawyer works for a large firm, an associate attorney may attend instead of your attorney, and as long as the associate is familiar with your case, this should not be a problem. Nonetheless, make sure you get a chance to meet the associate before the court date, so you can review the specifics of your financial situation.
- What do your attorney fees cover? In most cases, the fees you pay will cover all of the services you will need to obtain a final discharge. If your attorney charges extra fees for special services, make sure you know about them and whether they apply to your case before you sign a Fee Agreement.