Thinking about filing bankruptcy? How do you find a law firm that is right for you? Do you call up the one with the flashiest TV or radio ads, or the one showing up first on a Google search? The following are 5 pointers to consider. Looking for a lawyer is a lot like shopping for clothes: it must fit your personal needs not just what is being sold.
1. GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR AND DON'T SETTLE FOR LESS
Your lawyer should spend time with you. It is your lawyer's job to know your debts and know about your income and expenses. At some law firms the majority of the work is done by paralegals with only a few minutes meeting with a lawyer.
You should have an experienced lawyer who analyzes your situation and lays out the options available to you. This way, you are the one who makes an informed decision. With proper legal advice, you can best decide whether to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 or not file anything. The best decisions are made with full information and guidance of a lawyer. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer lays out options and gives advice and does not merely sell to close a deal.
You should expect a lawyer to prepare the petition and all schedules and then review it with you. Putting together the paperwork takes legal knowledge to know what parts are important and make sure nothing is missed.
At ROBERT J ADAMS & ASSOCIATES the first step is to make sure we list all creditors. We help you get your free annual credit report. It is most important that you know who you owe.
Your consultation with a lawyer is always free and confidential. Options are fully explained so you can make a decision that is best for you.
We never ask for any money until you have agreed to the terms and have decided to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13.
You should know and agree to the actual fee and costs before signing documents. The lawyer's fee is a flat fee plus court costs. Generally the agreement provides for a small down payment to actually file the Chapter 7. If a lawyer wants the full fee paid before filing remember creditors can come after you while you are raising the money to pay the lawyer.
After the case is filed your lawyer should follow up with creditors and take action if a creditor harasses you.
Your lawyer should be with you and represent you at the meeting with the trustee. Trustee meetings are formally called Section 341 meetings and can involve unpleasant surprises if your lawyer is not familiar with your case.
Most of the items above are the same for a Chapter 13. But, there is a lot of additional work since you are going through a multi-year payment plan.
The Chapter 13 plan sets forth how your creditors will be paid. At ROBERT J ADAMS & ASSOCIATES, our mission is to craft a plan with the lowest payments possible. A Chapter 13 is a repayment plan. But we will always seek to get a very, very low dividend to unsecured creditors and save you as much money as possible.
ROBERT J ADAMS & ASSOCIATES is at your side from the start until the case is over.
2. A TRUE BANKRUPCY "EXPERT
Although the rules governing lawyers prohibit Bankruptcy lawyers from calling him/herself experts, you want someone who concentrates on Bankruptcy law. You want to know that your lawyer knows all aspects of Bankruptcy Code and how long the firm's been helping people with financial problems.
Avoid lawyers who will only file Chapter 7 cases. You want all options explained to you so you can intelligently choose whether to file a Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or no case at all?
Avoid lawyers that only file bankruptcy cases as a portion of their business. They may know how to handle an easy case, but they won't know the ins and outs of the whole process. All the lawyers at ROBERT J ADAMS & ASSOCIATES have been in the Consumer Bankruptcy practice from over 20 year to almost 40 years.
At ROBERT J ADAMS & ASSOCIATES we always lay out the options available so you can determine what course of action is best for you.
3. UP TO DATE ON CHANGES IN THE BANKRUPTCY LAW.
There are constant changes and new interpretations of the law. The interpretations come from local Bankruptcy judges to the Appellate courts and even to the United States Supreme Court. They also come from Congress when they actually manage to get something passed.
At ROBERT J ADAMS & ASSOCIATES our lawyers read and review new decisions and constantly attend Continuing Legal Education courses and seminars. Every year at least one of our lawyers attends the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney's convention as well as other association meetings and classes. We keep up with the law.
Is there a difference? Let me give you an example. A client had been told because of his/her income a Chapter 7 was not available but needed to file a 5 year Chapter 13. Because we know how to maneuver through the "Means Test" we successfully got the client into the Chapter 7 they wanted. We can do the same for you.
4. DON'T GET RUN THROUGH A BANKRUPTCY MILL
There are firms that churn and burn cases with little regard to a client's specific need. Unfortunately it is "Buyer Beware." If your initial consultation is handled by a paralegal and the lawyer only meets with you for 10 minutes, you are probably at a mill.
During the course of a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 if you have questions or problems are you able to discuss this with a lawyer? At Robert J Adams & Associates our clients are assigned a lawyer who you can always contact.
Our mission has always been to get the best possible result for our clients. Our lawyers always get involved early in the consultation and take time to answer your questions. And, we are there until the end of the case.
5. COMFORTABLE RELATIONSHIP
You must be comfortable with your lawyer. Does the lawyer care about you and care about what is best for you, or does he just care about getting you to sign the contract?
A Chapter 7 case generally lasts 4 to 5 months. But a Chapter 13 case generally lasts 3 to 5 years. Will your lawyer be there with you through the entire case and after? We often get calls from clients who got a discharge, but still have a creditor that won't go away. We are there for those problems.
What does it mean that the vast majority of our cases come through referrals? Since so many of our clients refer family and friends to us you know they were completely satisfied with our service. You know you will be comfortable with ROBERT J. ADAMS & ASSOCIATES. The best form of advertising is and has always been word of mouth from satisfied clients.
Robert J Adams & Associates has helped thousands of good people, just like you, save their home. Take advantage of our free and confidential consultation today.