When you're sick, do you call around to doctor's offices and ask, "How much do you charge"? Of course not. And if you're looking for a bankruptcy attorney, resist the urge to do the same. We know you are experiencing financial hardship because if you weren't, you wouldn't be thinking about declaring bankruptcy! For top quality, you might want to remember the saying, "You get what you pay for." Keep in mind that the less expensive the attorney fees are for your bankruptcy case, the less you might actually be speaking with or seeing an attorney. Many low-cost offices handle most of their work using staff. Their staff may or may not be well-trained. Many people with simple cases are not harmed by using low-cost bankruptcy attorneys, but anyone with significant assets, significant income, or unusual circumstances may need an experienced specialist.
The relationship is important - care and feeding of your attorney
Your relationship with your attorney is extremely important. You and your attorney should have a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Choose someone who you have a natural rapport with, who is sympathetic to your situation, listens to what you have to say, and gives you a fair assessment of all of your options.
Be forthcoming with your attorney, and please remember that your attorney is a human being! Bankruptcy attorneys know you are not in their office because you WANT to be there - but remember that we have feelings too and it is very stressful and unpleasant to have clients who are hostile, demanding, or rude. We want to help you and we are on your side.
A great deal of bankruptcy practice (and the practice of law, for that matter) involves exercising professional judgment. An attorney's advice and counsel are largely based on experience with other cases like yours, and making educated predictions about the probable results. While there is no hard-and-fast rule about the number of cases an attorney must handle before they are "experienced," your attorney should have practiced for at least several years, have handled several hundred cases, and be comfortable with appearing in court on your behalf. You will probably also have a better experience if you consult a specialist - that is, someone whose practice is mostly in bankruptcy law. Like most areas of the law, bankruptcy is a highly specialized and complex area. Choose carefully!
Additional resources provided by the author
Keep the tips above in mind when choosing an attorney for any kind of case. We know there is a great deal of information on the internet about the law and about attorneys. Some of it is useful and some of it is not. If you are thinking about hiring an attorney of any kind, take a few minutes to call their office, or call an attorney you know and trust to get a referral to someone who practices in the area that you need. An experienced attorney can answer your questions much more quickly than you will be able to by searching the internet.