Seven Tips For Hiring A Bankruptcy Lawyer

  • Many people and business entities reach a stage in their life cycle when they are not able to repay the debts to their creditors on time. The number of cases being filed for bankruptcy has increased significantly over the years. Bankruptcy filings are either for straight bankruptcy or repayment plan bankruptcy. The second one is called the insolvency resolution process in India, wherein a debt repayment plan is chalked out by a competent authority-Debt Recovery Tribunal for individuals, and National Company Law Tribunal for business entities- to resolve the matter. In either case, you will need the right legal representation for which you will have to hire an experienced bankruptcy law lawyer.

     

    In the US, bankruptcy can be filed under chapter 7 and chapter 13 by individuals, and chapter 7 and chapter 11 by business entities. Chapter 11 deals with debt reorganization cases.

     

    Finding the right bankruptcy or corporate  lawyer to represent you in bankruptcy filing can be a daunting task. Bankruptcy is a serious matter and it is crucial that you get the right legal representation. Discussed below are some tips to find and select the right lawyer. 

     

    Referrals 

     

    As bankruptcy is not a pleasant situation to be in, many people find it awkward to ask for referrals from family and friends because they will have to talk about their financial struggles. However, you may ask people who are close to you and who have dealt with similar issues in the past or know someone who has. And you can always ask your friends and acquaintances for referrals on someone else’s behalf that is, pretending that someone else needs help. 

     

    Online Search

     

    The best option is to do an online search. A lot of information is available on a lawyer’s website, and you can do your own research on the skills and experience of each and every lawyer in the field of bankruptcy. Prepare a list of lawyers you find in the online search whom you think could represent you. This way you can shortlist a few lawyers whom you would want to meet for preliminary consultation.

     

    Bar Associations and Professional Organizations 

     

    There are various professional organizations of lawyers from different areas of law. Check with a professional body of lawyers who specialize in bankruptcy cases. Members of such an organization are generally well aware of the latest developments in their area of law, and are usually thorough professionals committed to their job. Once you find a few names of member lawyers from your area, get in touch with the local bar association to learn more about their credentials-how long have they been practicing, how many bankruptcy cases they take up every year, etc. Credentials and association membership should be assurance enough for you to believe that the attorney has the experience and practical knowledge to be able to help you.

     

    Prepare for an Interview

     

    After you have found few attorneys or law firms that you think could represent you, visit their websites for further action.  The website should contain educational information to enlighten common citizens on bankruptcy laws, as also some financial form that can be downloaded and filled up to prepare for bankruptcy filing. You should, then, fix appointments with the few shortlisted attorneys and ask for free consultation, which is usually granted. Don’t get tempted to go along with the first attorney you meet; be patient and meet a few more attorneys before you arrive at any decision. Carry a list of questions that you must ask each of the lawyers. You must fully satisfy yourself about the capabilities of the attorney.

     

    Things to look for in a Bankruptcy Lawyer 

     

    When you meet a lawyer, you should see if the lawyer has different options to offer to file bankruptcy or just talks about the one you approached for. It is important to get an insight on all possible resolution methods. Try to understand how passionate the attorney is about his/her profession and whether there is keenness to understand your situation. And above all, the lawyer must show empathy towards you, as bankruptcy is a difficult situation to be in, and must be really willing to help you. If the lawyer doesn’t ask too many probing questions, then he/she might not be the right person.

     

    Avoid the Bankruptcy Mills

     

    There are many law firms who have a lot of paralegals working for them who do majority of the work. Lawyers are few and often enter late in the picture. These firms have a standardized procedure for everybody, and do not give personalized attention to each individual. These firms, also referred to as “Bankruptcy Mills”, should be avoided.

     

    Discuss the Fees

     

    The fee a bankruptcy lawyer charges is an important factor as it is your primary concern. You are already struggling with your finances for some time, and would want to keep the expense in check. Fee varies from lawyer to lawyer, and you must use your discretion while taking a decision on hiring bankruptcy or Corporate Lawyers in India.