At a minimum you should get a low or no fee consultation with a consumer protection debt defense type of atty. I recommend Robert Brennan, Stephanie Tatar, Robert Stempler and Richard Lysle in your area.
Are you planning on fighting and winning this thing? If not, then why are you wasting money on a lawyer?
I think debt settlement is such a rip off and I would consult a bankruptcy attorney to see what your options are.
Here is a preprint of an article I'm working on:
Your Credit Rating
Most people are surprised to learn that filing for bankruptcy can increase their credit rating. What follows is an example of why filing for bankruptcy can increase your credit rating.
Suppose you are a credit card company considering two people to give a credit to and suppose that these two individuals have jobs with approximately $250 in disposable income that you can garnish.
The first person has never filed for bankruptcy and has $75,000.00 in debt.
The second person has $0.00 in debt but he has recently filed for bankruptcy and cannot get a Chapter 7 discharge for at least the next 8 years.
The first person
The first person is a huge credit risk because, first, he can’t afford the debt that he already has, and second, the chances of him filing for bankruptcy, if he goes under more debt is exponentially increasing because there is only so much more he can handle before it’s painfully obvious that he won’t ever be able to pay that debt back.
If you try to garnish his wages, he will file for bankruptcy because there would be nothing for him to be holding onto.
The Second Person
The second person is much less of a credit risk. First, his disposable income can probably cover the credit cards you allow him to have. Second, he cannot escape liability by filing for bankruptcy because he has recently filed for it. Should you forward credit to him, he will be on the hook for at least the next seven years. This gives the credit card company a lot of time to garnish wages and recover their money because the fear of the second person filing for bankruptcy is no longer there.
The FICO credit rating takes this into account. By filing for bankruptcy and decreasing the risk you pose, your credit score should go up.
A Second Perspective
For every dollar you spend on your credit card, your credit card company charges the merchant a transaction fee in the approximate amount of 3.000%.
My Dad used to tell me that credit card companies lose so much money because of him. He would spend thousands of dollars every month on his credit card and pay it all off in full at the end of the month. This way, he was never charged interest for his cards, but he gained the convenience of being able to use the cards,... or so he thought.
If my Dad spends $1,000.00 every month on his credit card, and pays it off in full. The credit card company makes its money back, because my Dad returns the $1,000.00 and it gets 3% from the merchant ($30.00 per $1,000.00). If we annualize this profit, the net result is the credit card company is making approximately 36% off of my Dad’s purchases on an annual basis.
CREDIT CARD COMPANIES WANT YOU TO SPEND MONEY ON CREDIT CARDS!!!
That’s how they make their money, that’s why they give people who recently filed for bankruptcy credit cards. They make their money, and they are protected for eight years. They get their pie and they eat it too.
That’s why you shouldn’t feel bad about filing for bankruptcy. The credit card companies have received more than their fair share. For them, if you have run out of credit and can’t pay, they can’t make any more money off of you, so why not do them a favor and get a fresh start?
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here. Please visit my web site: www.avanesianlaw.com for more information about my services.
I am concerned that you refer to a scheduled case management conference. I have seen many defendants ignore the language of the summons requiring an Answer to the Complaint within 30 days and then show up at the CMC only to learn that a default has been taken or is in the works. Have you filed an Answer?
Whether or not you get a lawyer (and whether that should be be a bk lawyer) depends on the amount of this debt and how many other debts you have.
But in any case do consult with a bk lawyer for starters.
Legal disclaimer: Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in California and Pakistan only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to California or Pakistan. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.