1. Don’t choose a bankruptcy lawyer based on cost alone. The expense of hiring a lawyer to assist you with your case can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand. Bankruptcy is not one of the major areas of practice for attorneys. It is a specialized area just like criminal law or medical malpractice. Make sure you choose an attorney who has, as they say, been around the block a few times.
2. When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, try to choose one who has been practicing for at least 5 years in this specialty. Make sure to look at the lawyer’s total background. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he may have done something else that you can benefit from. Yes, we all agree that all lawyers need to get experience somewhere. What you want to avoid is having him get that experience at your expense.
3. Look for a lawyer who goes beyond just assisting you with the filing of your case. Your lawyer should be there to help you in the recovery process. Obviously he is not going to be able to provide financial assistance, but he may be able to provide you with advice and direction. Remember also that he may have resources available that you may not. Don’t be afraid to ask, “what can you do to help me after my case is over?”
4. Law firms come in all sizes. There are some attorneys who work only by themselves. There are some attorneys who work in small 2, 3 or 4 attorney firms. Then there are those firms that have 10, 20, 30 or more attorneys working for them. Be careful because hiring a large law firm may not be to your advantage. Remember time is money to an attorney. Those large firms generally work on a billable hours basis. In those large firms, every minute you spend with an attorney will cost you money.
5. A few years ago, it was impossible for an attorney to advertise his services. Fortunately for attorneys, that restriction no longer applies. Attorneys are free to advertise, albeit under some controlled conditions, the services they provide to the public. Advertising can help you learn about the services a lawyer provides, but it may not provide you with any details about the attorney or his firm. Before hiring an attorney, make sure you ask questions and make sure that the lawyer is qualified and competent to handle your case.
6. Many people will ask a friend or family member for a referral. Yes, this is a good way to find an attorney. If he was good enough for my friend, he is good enough for me. Right? Well, maybe. Don’t use the referral as your only measurement. Meet with the attorney. Make sure that you are comfortable with him and that he will be able to do the job you are looking for.
7. Location is sometimes a barrier when looking for an attorney. Many people want to find someone that is close to them. Convenience becomes a measurement. But convenience may not bring you to the attorney that can do the job. In today’s electronic age, nearly all the paperwork that is done can be handled by fax, e-mail or over the internet. It is far more important to you to choose an experienced, qualified lawyer – than to choose one because he is close to home.
8. One of the many irritations that clients have is that their attorney will not return their phone call. Yes, this is a problem, so make sure that you can contact your lawyer when you need him.
9. When hiring an attorney to assist you with a legal problem, be it bankruptcy, criminal or anything else, make sure you are getting the service you intend.
10. Finally, when choosing a lawyer, make sure that his fees are fair, that he does not charge you for phone conversations, or that he responds to your questions so that you understand the answers and that you do respect or like him. When you hire an attorney, you must be comfortable with him and confident that he will do the job you are hiring him to do.
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