Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer vs. Going Pro Se

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Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer vs. Going Pro Se

When you’re in the middle of financial distress it’s natural to want to tighten your fist. Fears of having to pay a lawyer exorbitant fees might drive you to try to represent yourself in bankruptcy court.

This is a major mistake. Here’s why.

Likelihood of a Successful Case

Did you know when you represent yourself pro se the judge will hold you to the exact same standards as any lawyer? This means you’re expected to know exactly what we’d know as if you’d gone to law school for three years. You’re expected to know as much as someone who has taken and passed the bar.

And really, you’re expected to know as much as someone who has practiced law for several years. Judges get impatient with rookie lawyers who don’t know what they’re doing too.

Only 69% of pro se Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases get discharged; 95% of those represented by attorneys do. Only 0.4% of pro se filers manage to get their Chapter 13 case discharged. If Chapter 13 is the right way to go it’s almost impossible to handle the case without an attorney.

See also: Steps to Take if Your Bankruptcy Case is Dismissed

Amount of Money Saved

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney and paying filing fees costs less than $2000 on average for a Chapter 7 filer and anywhere from $3400 to $3900 on average for a Chapter 13 filer. Meanwhile, the average household carries $137,063 in debt.

If your debt is around the average and you can’t get that debt discharged you will continue to owe $137,063.

If, with an attorney’s help, the debt is fully discharged you will owe $2000 or less.

Of course, if you file Chapter 13 you’ll still be paying down a portion of your debts. But let’s say you pay 75% of your debt before receiving your discharge. At that point you’ve paid $102,797 plus, as a worst case scenario, $3900 in legal and filing fees. You’ve still saved 23% of what you owe.

Thus, you save way more than you lose by hiring a bankruptcy attorney.

See also: How Much Does a Bankruptcy Cost?

Gaining Access to Additional Solutions

What if bankruptcy isn’t even your best solution? For example, what if you’re facing foreclosure and just need a solid foreclosure defense that doesn’t involve bankruptcy at all? There are even agencies that can help.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that before committing to the bankruptcy process? When bankruptcy is the right solution it can be an incredible tool. But it has to be the right solution first.

As your bankruptcy attorneys we will help you look at all your options to make sure you’re choosing the right one.

Of course, bankruptcy itself can be a smart foreclosure defense, and there’s plenty you can do to improve your situation while you’re in bankruptcy. But you need guidance to take advantage of them.

See also: Modifying Your Home Loan While in Bankruptcy.

Staying Out of Prison

Bankruptcy fraud is a crime, and unfortunately it’s all-too-easy to get accused of it if you don’t know what you’re doing. The law doesn’t care you were making mistakes in good faith. If you do something which can leave you open to criminal charges, you can go to jail.

And if you don’t have a good lawyer by your side, you certainly won’t be able to mount a defense which might encourage the judge to go easy on you.

Remember, bankruptcy fraud is a federal crime. Is saving a couple of thousand dollars really worth the risk?

See also: 7 Things You Should Avoid Before Filing a Bankruptcy in Pennsylvania.

Ready for Your Free Consultation?

At Sadek and Cooper we work hard to keep bankruptcy legal fees affordable. We offer a free consultation, and we offer payment plans.

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