Choosing the Right Attorney
Financial problems and overwhelming debt burdens can be the cause of much stress and anxiety for consumers. Choosing a bankruptcy attorney to assist you with the resolution of your debt issues should not add to that stress. The CSRA has many experienced bankruptcy attorneys, who have practiced in the consumer area for many years.
Our firm would like to offer some guidance as to how you can choose a bankruptcy attorney to assist you with your particular problem.
- FINDING AN ATTORNEY
- REFERRALS BY OTHER ATTORNEYS
- REFERRALS BY PAST OR PRESENT CLIENTS
- MEETING THE ATTORNEY
- QUESTIONS FOR THE ATTORNEY
Finding an Attorney
Many attorneys choose to practice in a particular field of law. Fortunately, internet searches easily allow consumers to narrow down attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy or debt relief. The yellow pages in the phone book provide sub-headings for attorneys in particular areas of law. There is a specific sub-heading for bankruptcy attorneys in the yellow pages, to assist you with your search. However, the internet or yellow pages should only be the starting point for you in trying to decide on an attorney.
Referrals By Other Attorneys
An attorney who you may have dealt with on another legal matter, such as real estate or personal injury, would probably be more than happy to recommend a good bankruptcy attorney. Furthermore, attorneys may have more information about the reputation and experience of a particular attorney.
Referrals By Past or Present Clients
The duty of confidentiality prohibits an attorney from disclosing information about current or past clients, without permission. However, many clients are referred to a bankruptcy attorney by family members, friends or co-workers who are willing to share such information. Such referrals should be seriously considered, because it will give you an idea of the relationship that the attorney has with his or her clients.
Meeting the Attorney
Most bankruptcy attorneys offer a free consultation. This is an opportunity for the attorney to learn about your financial situation, and suggest possible solutions. It is also an opportunity for the client to evaluate the attorney and his or her staff, and get a feel for how they and their case will be treated. Factors to consider at your meeting should be as follows:
• Does the law firm staff appear to be courteous and considerate of current and potential clients?
• Do the staff and attorneys seem to work well together?
• Does the office appear to be hectic and disorganized? Or efficient and organized?
• Is the attorney or firm representative on time?
• Does the attorney offer you a feeling of competence and assurance?
• Do you feel that your bankruptcy options have been adequately explained?
• Has the handling of your case from beginning to end been adequately explained?
• Were attorney fees discussed, and payment arrangements made clear?
• Did you feel rushed, or that not enough time was spent discussing your problem?
• Did you understand your responsibilities as a potential client by the end of the meeting?
Making such observations should give you a good idea of what type of relationship to expect with your attorney during the course of your bankruptcy representation.
Questions for the Attorney
Your bankruptcy consultation is also an opportunity for you to find what experience and expertise that the firm offers in the area of bankruptcy. No attorney should be hesitant to answer basic questions about their education, experience and length of practice. They should be more than happy to provide you with any information to make you comfortable with the attorney-client relationship.
Some questions to ask would be the following:
- How long have you been admitted to practice law?
- In what state or states are you licensed to practice?
- How much of your practice is devoted to bankruptcy?
- How many years have you practiced in the Bankruptcy Court?
- Approximately how many cases have you handled over your career?
- How long have you practiced in the local area?
- What should I expect from your representation?
- How much time do you spend in court?
- Who will accompany me to court when I have to attend?
- Will there be staff members available to answer my questions if you are unavailable?
Further information about an attorney or law firm, such as disciplinary record information, may be obtained from the state bar of the state in which that attorney is licensed to practice. Additionally, the clerk’s office for the United States District Court in the district in which you live should be able to tell you whether or not the attorney is admitted to practice in that particular Bankruptcy Court.
The main consideration in choosing an attorney should be finding an attorney who makes you feel comfortable and confident about the representation. There is no requirement that you must hire an attorney simply because you have chosen them for a consultation, and you may feel that it is necessary to meet with other attorneys until you find one who you feel is best suitable for your personality and case.