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What should I look for in a good bankruptcy attorney?

Olympia, WA |

I'm going to begin the process of filing for bankruptcy, and would like to know what I need to be looking for to know if I'm talking to a good attorney?

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Attorney answers 4


You might want to consider talking to friends and family (know anyone else that's had to file?) and asking for a referral. Referrals usually lead to very good results.

Other common questions and considerations: (a) how long as the attorney been practicing; (b) what kind of legal support staff does the attorney have; (c) what kind of office hours do they keep; (d) are they willing to communicate in the way that is most convenient for you (e-mail, phone, snail mail, etc.); (e) are they going to send you off with a paper questionnaire, to a more convenient website questionnaire, or give you the choice of how you get information to them; (f) is the attorney going to attend the 341 hearing (seems odd, but some don't).

The other thing I'd want to know is just how willing the attorney is going to be to spend time with you explaining the process, how your particular situation is going to play out, what you should expect, etc. Unfortunately in order to achieve a high volume some attorneys charge so low that they cannot spend much time with any particular client, which can lead to less than high satisfaction with the client service that is received.

The foregoing is commentary regarding a general legal question. It is not intended to be legal advice specific to the reader's individual situation nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between the author and any reader. You are encouraged to contact a qualified attorney to discuss your legal situation.


A good bankruptcy lawyer is going to ask you a lot of questions and ask you to provide a lot of documents. He (or she), and not a non-lawyer staff member, will be the one who interviews you. If you're sent away after the first appointment with a long questionnaire after having spent five minutes with a paralegal, you'll want to find someone else.


You will want to spend at least a half hour with the attorney who will represent you. You will leave that meeting with a sense the he or she is interested in your circumstances, not an assembly line with non attorney workers dealing with you. You want to know that once you have retained your attorney, that your calls will be answered. And if you picked wrong, that you will get cooperation in transferring information to your replacement attorney.


To the helpful information offered so far, especially by my NACBA colleagues, Mr. Walton and Mr. Oney, I would add that a good attorney will gather enough information very early in your discussions to analyze your case under all available chapters, and indeed whether any alternative to bankrtupcy would meet our needs. A good bankruptcy attorney will not quote a fee until that much investigation and evaluation is completed, and will itemize all services included in a flat fee and describe possible fees additional to the flat fee.

Through it all, a good bankruptcy attorney will answer all of your questions in a manner you can understand, and will explain what is required of you at every step.

To find a reliable bankruptcy attorney in your area, use the attorney-finder at I am a longtime, proud member of NACBA, and trust my WA colleagues to advise accurately and protect clients aggressively.

Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.

Paula Brown Sinclair

Paula Brown Sinclair


Make that "meet your needs" to make better sense. Sorry.

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