You are making the fatal assumption that a lawyer that charges less is offering the same thing as a lawyer that changes more. Legal services, even bankruptcy, is not a commodity. If you really want affordable (meaning, you want cheap), don't expect much service and you will almost never actually speak to an attorney. Your case will be handled by a paralegal that is only supervised (barely) by an attorney.
Instead of focusing on price alone, you really need to think about what you want out of an attorney. Do you want to have someone available to answer your questions, do you want to actually meet and talk to the attorney handling your case. Is the first time you find out you will lose an asset in bankruptcy is at the creditors meeting (when it is too late to do anything about it).
Also, a chapter 13 is a vastly different case than a chapter 7.
Really good attorneys won't charge under $2,000. Attorneys that charge less than $2,000 but more than $1000 are either inexperienced or don't really understand the value of their service. Attorneys that charge less than $1,000 are offering a paralegal service with an attorney name attached to it.
Attorneys charge different fees for Chapter 7, and the fees depend on how complicated your situation is. Your best bet is to use the Find A Lawyer tab on this website and get a list of reputable bankruptcy attorneys - then call each one to find out what they would charge; then you will know the range. Here is my recent legal guide on how to pay for bankruptcy: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/how-to-pay-for-bankruptcy
The information provided herein is general information only and not legal advice. The information provided herein does not create an attorney client relationship and is not a substitute for having a consultation with an attorney. It is important to have a consultation with an attorney as the information provided in this forum is limited and cannot possibly cover all potential issues in a given situation.
The filing fee is $307 in ch 7 and $281 in ch 13 no matter where in the U.S. If you are doing a chapter 7, in fact all you really care about is two things: can you keep everything you own and can you discharge all your debts (vs do you have any debts that are NOT dischargeable). But there are other issues that an attorney will ask you that can affect our advice to you. For example, if you paid back a relative $3000 11 months ago and file bankruptcy this week the trustee will sue your relative to retrieve that $3000 (called a preference). Thus, always seek an attorneys advice from an attorney wo has practiced for many years. A good attorney is going to advise you of which chapter to file and why also along with is there an advantages of waiting to file and who to pay between now and when you file. Thus, obtain an experienced attorneys advices..for ch 7 and 13 it is normally probably free..so find an attorney you are comfortable with and follow their advice! good luck and I hope all of our attorneys answers have assisted you too. I suggest no matter what do NOT go to an attorney with less than 200 cases filed as the experience breeds knowledge and options!
As stated by my colleagues, it depends. Chapter 7 bankruptcy fees range based on your particular situation (eg. number of creditors, emergency on non-emergency, secured vs. unsecured debt, number of lawsuits pending to name a few). Chapter 13 bankruptcy fees tend to be narrower in range as most bankruptcy attorneys take a small retainer upfront and the remainder of the fee is paid through the Chapter 13 Plan. Biggest variation here is normally the retainer upfront. Consultations are usually free. Contact a few attorneys in your area to get an idea what they would charge and what that fee includes.
For a fairly uncomplicated chapter 7 in Cleveland, the attorney fees range from $700-1200. More complicating factors can increase the price such as self-employed income, businesses, the number of creditors, number of properties etc. Attorney fees are in addition to the $306 filing fee. For reference, my office handles Cleveland cases and I charge $1,250 total. This includes my attorney fees if $850, the filing fee of $306 and then my office purchases a credit report and we pay for the two mandatory credit counseling classes. When you are finding a bankruptcy lawyer, make sure you understand ALL the fees associated. My office is an hour west of Cleveland so my market is a little different than yours These numbers are just for your reference. Utilize this site to find someone in your area who can help you.
Check around and find an attorney that will speak with you on the phone prior to coming in and who also has a sliding scale fee depending on how complex your case is.
As to Chapter 7 cases, it will depend upon the complexity of the case, and the general "going rate" in the market. You might consider checking with a few lawyers who are members of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys in your area. As to Chapter 13 cases, you should check the local rules of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Cleveland, OH, because many court districts have limits, imposed in the local rules, regarding Chapter 13 attorney fees.
Fee structure varies district to district as pointed out by the colleagues who have commented herein.
For instance, here in the Northern District of Florida a practitioner can charge a consumer (not commercial) client up to $1500 for a Chapter 7 and up to $3500 for a Chapter 13 without the specific approval of the court. If, for some reason, the case is particularly complicated and time-consuming, then higher fees may be awarded, but not without the lawyer filing a motion for compensation which he supports with his time records and specific explanations for the excess charge.
However, excluded from the fees suggested above, if your case should involve extra litigation such as a complaint to determine whether your are eligible for discharge, or an adversary proceeding--which is a law suit within the bankruptcy case against a third party to establish a right. These matters usually require additional fees, again subject to approval by the court.