Attorneys that are board certified in Consumer Bankruptcy Law are specialists that represent non-business debtors and creditors in bankruptcy cases. In Texas, to become board certified in Consumer Bankruptcy Law, an attorney must have:
a-? Been licensed to practice law for at least five years;
a-? Devoted at least 30 percent of his practice to bankruptcy law for at least three years;
a-? Handled a wide variety of bankruptcy law matters (including at least 15 contested court cases) to demonstrate experience and involvement;
a-? Regularly attended bankruptcy law continuing education seminars to keep up to date on changes in bankruptcy law;
a-? Been evaluated by fellow lawyers and judges; and
a-? Passed a day-long written examination.
Initial certification is valid for five years. To remain certified, a lawyer must apply for recertification every five years and meet practice, peer review and continuing legal education requirements.
Board Certification - continued
Many other states have board certification programs. Check with your state bar for the board certification requirements in any state other than Texas.
A board certified lawyer may indicate certification by stating that he is "Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization."
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization has issued a brochure entitled "What is a Bankruptcy Law Board Certified Attorney?" (http://www.weberlaw.com/pdf-files/what-is-a-consumer-board-certified-attorney.pdf). This brochure provides an overview of the requirements for board certification. A detailed list of the requirements for board certification is contained in the Standards for Attorney Certification of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
If you do not have any specific information about a particular attorney's reputation or experience, you are more likely to receive competent advice and representation if the attorney is board certified.
Does the attorney devote all or most of his practice to bankruptcy cases?
Many attorneys that file bankruptcy cases devote a substantial amount of time to other practice areas such as personal injury, criminal, family, probate, immigration, real estate, or corporate law. Even board certified bankruptcy lawyers are permitted to devote as much as 70 percent of their practice to non-bankruptcy areas.
Again, if you lack any specific information about a particular attorney's reputation or experience, you are more likely to obtain a good bankruptcy lawyer if that lawyer limits his practice to bankruptcy cases.
Has the attorney been disciplined for ethical violations?
Check the credentials and ethics record of every lawyer you consider. Obviously, it is preferable to hire an attorney that has not committed ethical violations. You can check the general credentials and ethics record of any Texas attorney at the Texas State Bar website (http://www.texasbar.com/). Go to the "Find a Lawyer" tab at the bottom of the home page and specify the attorney's name. This site will also provide other helpful information about the lawyer such as education, practice areas, year licensed, courts admitted and board certifications.
Does the attorney personally handle the cases?
You will never see or talk to an attorney at many bankruptcy law firms. Many law firms operate "bankruptcy factories" where the cases are handled almost entirely by a legal assistant. A legal assistant will interview you and take all of your calls. At some other law firms, an attorney will conduct the first interview, but after that, you will never talk to or hear from the attorney, and a legal assistant will take your calls. You should insist on personal attention from your attorney.
Does the attorney have a quality legal education?
A lawyer's performance during law school and the quality of the law school are important indicators of the quality of representation that you will receive. I recommend that you check the following sources to determine the quality of the law school attended by a lawyer your are considering: