Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer
Filing for bankruptcy is a tough decision and you need to have the best bankruptcy lawyer by your side to help you tackle the legalities in a bankruptcy case. There is no doubt that you cannot file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. So how do you go about picking the right lawyer for yourself? Read on to know more:
Things to Look for in a Bankruptcy Lawyer
You will find options all around you. But how do you decide which lawyer to pick? Here’s a list of few things that you would want to look for in a bankruptcy lawyer:
You would want to be represented by someone who has had enough experience in handling bankruptcy cases. A bankruptcy case is a costly affair and you wouldn’t want the wrong lawyer to handle your case. Research, ask around and speak with your lawyer to understand his experience in handling such cases.
A competent lawyer will have handled enough cases, will be well versant with the lawy and will give you the accurate picture on what you should expect from the case. Because of the nature of bankruptcy laws, it is difficult for incompetent lawyers to survive.
While the financial burden is weighing heavy on you, you might feel tempted to settle down with the cheapest lawyer you can find. However, this may not be a great idea for you in the long run! A competent lawyer with the right amount of experience and enough expertise might cost you a certain amount. This is an investment you might want to make for the sake of your own financial safety.
Keeping these pointers in mind, look for a lawyer who is close to you in terms of location. Also spend some time with the lawyer to understand your comfort level.
How to Choose the Right Bankruptcy Lawyer
1. Start Looking Out for the Lawyer As Soon As You Have Made Up Your Mind:
When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, you will have all the temptation to procrastinate fearing the unpleasantness it is going to bring along. However, do not sit around and waste time as it could lead to further damages down the line.
2. Ask for Referrals:
If you have lawyer friends or check with friends who have lawyer friends for referrals. Referrals work best as they have the advantage of personal experience. You can also spend a day the bankruptcy court to find yourself a bankruptcy lawyer. Observation can help you understand the style of functioning of lawyers and help you pick the right lawyer for yourself.
3. Check local bar associations:
Instead of reaching out to any lawyer for help, you can seek help from the local bar associations. The advantage here is that you know that the lawyer is registered and is legally allowed to practice.
4. Check online:
Look for contacts online. You can search for contacts on Google. But make sure that you read the reviews thoroughly and make a note of the pros and cons of seeing a particular lawyer. In case of an internet search, you can shortlist the names of the lawyers and later follow up with a personal visit. Be free to judge.
Understand the body language and interest level of the lawyer to your case. Does he seem genuinely skilled or someone who just bluffs his way through. You would want someone who is not really skilled at the job to represent you in court.
You can also look around to see the office of the lawyer. Is it clean and well kept or is it messy and dirty? You wouldn’t want to hire a lawyer who can’t handle his own mess, would you?
What To Do After Hiring a Lawyer?
Meet in Person and Ask Questions
Once you have decided to meet the lawyer, make a list of all the questions you would want to ask the lawyer in person. Asking questions is extremely important as it will help you gauge the competency of the lawyer and help you decide if you should hire him or not. You should be clear about who is going to represent you in court.
A lot of times, senior lawyers appoint their associates to take care of cases for them. If you happen to be in such a situation, ask the right questions to understand who is going to handle your case. Ask the lawyer upfront about the eligibility, qualifications and other credentials of the lawyer he is assigning you. In any case, understand your lawyers competence and expertise in handling bankruptcy cases.
It is all right to inquire about the certifications the lawyer holds, about the number of hours he will dedicate to your case, about how many cases he has handled and successfully closed in the past etc.
Do Not Be Tempted to Save Money
A word of caution! You wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money on the lawyer, and so you would be tempted to hire the cheapest lawyer available. Do not make this mistake! You do not want to go stingy on something so important. If a good lawyer costs a little bit more then go ahead and make that expenditure for your own sake.
If you have doubts about the fee structure, sit down with your lawyer and understand the breakdown. You can also check with your local bar association about the lawyer’s fee structure. They can help you figure out if you are being overcharged or if the fee is fair enough given the lawyer’s success rate.
Evaluate the Lawyer by His Responses
Asking the right questions can save you a lot of trouble later on. You need to thoroughly understand what you are getting into, with a bankruptcy case already in place. Any financial wastage is something you would want to avoid. Speak with your lawyer and be mindful of their responses. Does your lawyer pay attention when he is talking to you? Does his staff respond in time with documents and papers? Do they have enough bandwidth to take on your case? Do they come across as sincere and committed?
These questions are crucial to ask to find the right lawyers who gives you the right picture and can help you out of your situation.
What to Do After Hiring Your Lawyer?
Once you have found the lawyer who can help you file for bankruptcy, you can expect him to help you with the following:
- Filing the case. The lawyer will explain the legalities of the case to you. He will evaluate your case and explain what you should expect and what the possible outcomes could be. He will advise on the assets that are exempt from proceedings and what all you can keep with you after filing bankruptcy.
- Represent you in Court and In Meetings with Creditors. Your lawyer will represent you at the meeting of creditors where you will be asked questions about your finances and expenses. Having a competent lawyer by your side can help you get through the meeting successfully. In case, it is the first time that you are dealing with a bankruptcy case, your lawyer will prepare you for the eventualities.
By now you would know what you should do to file your bankruptcy case and how to hire a good bankruptcy lawyer. But what are the things that you should be mindful of and what are the things that you shouldn’t do? Read on to know more about the things that you shouldn’t do when you are filing a bankruptcy case:
1. Don’t Add Up More Debt:
Do not take any loans and add more debt to your credit. This will affect your meeting with creditors where you might be questioned.
2. Don’t Mess with Your Assets
A lot of people sell or hide their assets before filing for bankruptcy for safekeeping. It is best that you do not engage in any such activities.
3. Do not Bust Your Savings
In the desperation to tide over the financial crisis, a lot of people bust their savings. However, this is a grave mistake as the amount you have been saving for years could go kaput in no time.
4. Don’t Miss Filing Your IT Returns
It is important that you file your tax returns on time. This is because you will have to fill in details of your IT returns as part of your paperwork for the bankruptcy case. Without the documents of your IT returns, you cannot fill in your papers.
It is important that you pay utmost attention to your finances and maintain a healthy balance to stay away from bankruptcy. However, if at all you fall into an unfortunate situation wherein you have to file for bankruptcy, make sure you have the right lawyer by your side. Be cautious while picking your lawyer and dedicatedly follow up at regular intervals with him to ensure that he is handling the case well.
With the right attorney by your side, you can easily sail past through a difficult situation like bankruptcy.