If you have fallen upon hard times financially recently, you may be considering bankruptcy. If so, you should talk to a bankruptcy attorney soon about your situation and see what options are available for your situation. Just as in choosing the best doctor available when you are in need of a surgery, you need to be highly selective in choosing a bankruptcy attorney.
Justin Burton of Rulon T. Burton & Associates in Salt Lake City, Utah offers some great advice on how to choose a bankruptcy attorney. Pay close attention to his counsel:
First, you may have heard that it’s been very difficult for many law school graduates to get jobs as attorneys the past few years. As a result, many new attorneys have started advertising aggressively to attract new cases, and one of the key targets for these fresh attorneys is bankruptcy law. Do not fall for the advertising gimmicks of these inexperienced attorneys! When it comes to bankruptcy, experience REALLY counts. You need to ask any prospective attorney the following questions:
1. How many years have you been practicing bankruptcy law? (Make sure they answer you specific to bankruptcy law. An attorney may have been practicing law for 30 years, but only recently started filing bankruptcy cases.)
2. How many bankruptcy cases have you personally filed? (Young attorneys may have assisted on several cases, but never actually filed a case on their own. Do you want to be their first real case?)
Second, ask if they are a member of NACBA which is a national association of bankruptcy attorneys. Being a member of this national association keeps them up to date and even gives them access to additional professional development resources.
Third, avoid discount attorneys like the plague. As in most discount situations, you will get what you pay for. Discount attorneys do not have the time to give your case the attention it really needs. Experienced attorneys will cost more, but you will get a lot more for your money in the long run.
Here are some red flags to watch for when you meet with your attorney for the first time:
Red Flag: The attorney only looks at one type of bankruptcy for you.
Reality: An experienced attorney will go over all of the available options with you.
Red Flag: You have done research and the attorney just agrees with your conclusion.
Reality: An experienced attorney will at least mention why your conclusion is correct in comparison to other options, or even suggest opportunities you had not considered.
Red Flag: The attorney’s firm/office promotes loan modification services.
Reality: These attorney’s use bankruptcy to sell you additional services you don’t want.
Do not rush into choosing your bankruptcy attorney. Take some time, do you research, follow the tips above, and choose the attorney that suits your needs best. If you aren’t sure if you need to file bankruptcy, but you know you are in financial trouble, meeting with an experienced attorney will still help you pursue the right course.