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How to Find a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it is important to find a bankruptcy lawyer who can be your advocate during these difficult times. Finding someone who can help you sort through the options you have to relieve the stress caused by your debt will be invaluable as you begin the process of regaining control of your finances. As you begin your search for a bankruptcy lawyer, it is essential that you choose someone who is the most qualified to handle your situation. Remember, you are entrusting your financial future to another individual. Below are several qualities, characteristics and qualifications that you should look for when you want to find a bankruptcy lawyer.

Find a Bankruptcy Lawyer through Friends and Family

The first place that you should begin looking to find a bankruptcy lawyer is through friends and family. If you know of someone who has been through bankruptcy, ask them if they would recommend their bankruptcy lawyer. Also, if you know an attorney or have worked with an attorney in the past, you may want to ask them for a recommendation for a good bankruptcy lawyer. Attorneys are generally aware of what types of law their colleagues practice and should be able to recommend someone who has experience in bankruptcy law.

Find a Bankruptcy Lawyer through Online Attorney Directories

If you do not know anyone who has utilized a bankruptcy lawyer in the past, a good place to start looking is your local Yellow Pages or online attorney directories such as AttorneyLocate.com. Here you can begin to develop a list of potential bankruptcy lawyers in your city. AllLaw.com is another source which has attorney listings by area and, in addition, bankruptcy forms, sample letters and related links. As you search these sources, it is important that you select attorneys who list bankruptcy as either their sole practice area or one of their practice areas. Bankruptcy laws are complex and it is important that you find a bankruptcy lawyer who is up-to-date on current bankruptcy laws (see New Changes to the Bankruptcy Code) and will be able to advise you as to the best course of action for your particular circumstances.

Ask Questions to get Information about each Bankruptcy Lawyer

Once you have a list of potential bankruptcy lawyers, it is important to find information about each one that may help you select the best attorney for your situation. Most of this information should be available on an attorney’s Web site. If the information is not available online, it is important to contact the attorney’s firm to get the information you need to make an educated decision.

What Chapters of Bankruptcy does Your Office Handle?
The first thing that you will want to learn is whether or not the attorney handles all types of bankruptcies or just certain chapters. Different chapters of bankruptcy will affect your life differently and it is important that you have a bankruptcy lawyer that will counsel you to file the chapter of bankruptcy that is best for you and not simply convenient for him or her (see What Type of Bankruptcy Should I File?).

When are Attorney Fees Due?
Attorney fees are what your bankruptcy lawyer charges you to represent your bankruptcy petition. Sometimes attorneys will ask for their entire fee to be paid upfront before they will file your bankruptcy. Other bankruptcy lawyers will file your bankruptcy and allow you to make payments throughout the bankruptcy process and even after your bankruptcy is finalized. It is important to ask about these things when you want to find a bankruptcy lawyer so you know what will be expected of you financially and if it is feasible for you to utilize a particular attorney’s services.

How Many Bankruptcies do You File each Month?
When you want to find a bankruptcy lawyer, it is important that he or she has significant experience handling cases like yours. If a bankruptcy lawyer has filed only a few bankruptcies during the tenure of their practice, you may want to move on to someone who has handled more cases. Remember, you are hiring an individual to represent your best interest. If an attorney does not have experience handling bankruptcy cases, he or she may not be able to advise as well as someone with more experience.

How do You Remain Current on Bankruptcy Laws?
It is important to hire an attorney who not only has experience handling bankruptcy cases, but an attorney who prioritizes continuing education courses to remain abreast of the current laws and procedures for filing for bankruptcy. You want to be certain that you are hiring an expert. Continuing education courses are a reasonable indicator of commitment to bankruptcy law and staying current on the issues that will affect clients.

What Professional Organizations do You Belong to?
Belonging to professional organizations for bankruptcy law may be an indicator that an attorney is really dedicated to bankruptcy law. Ask if an attorney is certified by the American Bankruptcy Institute or belongs to any state bankruptcy organizations. This information may also be available through your State Bar Association where you may also be able to discover if your potential bankruptcy attorney has been subject to ethical complaints.

Schedule a Meeting with each Bankruptcy Lawyer You are Considering to Represent Your Case
After you are comfortable with the list of bankruptcy lawyers you have left after researching each one, it is important to schedule an initial consultation with each attorney you are considering to hire. When you schedule these meetings, make sure that you find out if your will have to pay for the initial consultation so there are no surprises. During your meeting, you may inquire further about their experience and qualifications and even ask if you can contact some past clients to inquire about their experience with the law firm. You will also need to be prepared to discuss your financial situation so that the attorney will be able to provide you with an initial recommendation.

Once you have received recommendations from each of the bankruptcy lawyers on your list, choose the attorney that offers you the best solution for your financial circumstances. You will also want to choose the bankruptcy lawyer that makes you feel the most comfortable and the one that you feel you can trust. You will be spending a lot of time with your bankruptcy lawyer and he or she should be someone you can talk to easily about your financial difficulties.