Filing for bankruptcy can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. But while the act of filing can bring lots of positive changes to your life, you only really reap the full benefits if you have a qualified bankruptcy attorney standing by your side.
Of course, there are a whole lot of bankruptcy attorneys in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few things you can consider as you start your search.
Read the reviews.
Checking the attorney’s reviews on Google+, Avvo, and other sites is a good way to get a sense of what it’s like to work with the lawyer. Since reviews are all generated by past bankruptcy clients you’ll get a good shot at seeing the “good, bad, and ugly” of working with any attorney.
Look for common themes. Did the attorney listen to all the client’s concerns? Was the case guided to a good conclusion? Was the attorney good about returning calls and emails? Were the fees fair and reasonable?
You can also look for common complaints. If you see the same complaint come up more than two or three times it’s probably a recurring problem.
Consider your special needs.
Every bankruptcy attorney runs their business a little differently. Some will be perfect for your case, and some won’t.
Are you trying to save a home that’s in danger of foreclosure? You might want an attorney who specializes in foreclosure defense. Are you strapped for cash? Consider an attorney who offers a payment plan. In trouble with the IRS? You definitely want someone who works with delinquent tax cases on a regular basis.
Give real thought to the attorney’s experience.
Sure, everyone’s got to get their start somewhere, but that doesn’t mean you want the novice attorney who just graduated from law school and hung out his or her shingle. Like any area of the law, bankruptcy law can get complex fast. You want someone who has been in this practice area for many years and who knows how to help you when things get sticky.
You definitely don’t want to be stuck with a newbie like this lady, who got herself suspended from federal bankruptcy court. Of course, you also don’t want a dinosaur who can’t comply with the court’s modern technological requirements, either.
Find out what the lawyer’s disciplinary history looks like.
Nobody pays enough attention to this, but it’s worth noting. The last thing you want is a lawyer who has gotten into trouble with the bar on multiple occasions.
This is easier than you think. In Pennsylvania you can go to the website of the Disciplinary Board of Pennsylvania. Enter the attorney’s name. In New Jersey, visit this link and pull up the Quarterly Disciplinary Report. You’ll have to do a little more searching on the latter site.
Take advantage of the free consultation.
If the bankruptcy attorney you are considering offers a free consultation, take advantage of it! Meeting an attorney face-to-face will tell you if you feel comfortable entrusting your financial future to this person.
It will also tell you if you feel respected. You’d be surprised how many bankruptcy attorneys are dismissive of their clients. Or downright rude. You’re going through a tough enough time. Don’t let your attorney become a source of stress!
Want to see if we’re the right attorneys for your bankruptcy case? Go right ahead and schedule the consultation with us. We look forward to meeting you and to finding out how we can help guide your bankruptcy case to a successful conclusion.