Choosing the right attorney to help you through the bankruptcy process can seem like a daunting task. How do you find one? How do you know whether he or she is any good? How can you tell whether the attorney will truly care about you and your case? This is a critical decision. But take heart: there are some simple guidelines you can follow that will help you find an attorney, and rest easy with your decision.
How Do I Find An Attorney?
You'll for sure find lots of ads for attorneys in phone books, newspapers, and magazines. Anyone can place those ads, so they won't necessarily tell you very much about the quality and trustworthiness of an attorney. A better place to check might be with your state or local bar associations, which often have a roster of attorneys broken down by area of practice. Also consider referrals from people who have filed bankruptcy, or from attorneys who know people in the field. If you don't get anywhere with these avenues, you can contact your local Chapter 13 Trustee, whose office deals with the bankruptcy attorneys in your area and may be able willing to suggest certain attorneys (or tell you which ones to avoid).
How Do I Know If The Attorney Is Any Good?
Once you've found an attorney who practices bankruptcy law, here's how you can tell if he or she is someone you can trust to get you the best result:
1.Specializes in bankruptcy law. Make sure the attorney specializes in bankruptcy law, and doesn't just "dabble- in it here and there. This is a highly complex field. You need someone intimately familiar with the nuts and bolts of the process to ensure that you can maximize the benefits bankruptcy has to offer you.
2.Track record of success. The attorney should have a track record of success. The more Chapter 7 cases the attorney has seen through to discharge, and the more Chapter 13 plans he or she has had confirmed, the better.
3.Bankruptcy associations. It is also a good sign if the attorney is an active member of local, state, and national bankruptcy associations, because those associations provide seminars to keep members abreast of the latest developments.
4.Free debt consultation. Any attorney who is truly worth hiring has nothing to lose in offering to meet with you free of charge to discuss your situation.
A Good Example
The Law Offices of John T. Orcutt (with offices across the state of North Carolina) is a good example of the kind of law firm clients can trust with their cases. John Orcutt has practiced bankruptcy law himself since 1985, and has focused in the area since 1997. The firm handles 220 to 350 cases per month, and has handled more than 20,000 since 1985. More than 10,000 of those have been Chapter 13 cases. The firm's lawyers -“ who have a combined experience of 40 years in practice -- regularly attend state, local, and federal bankruptcy seminars every year. The firm exclusively represents debtors in the bankruptcy process. Over the years, it has helped more than 30,000 clients free themselves of 10's of millions of dollars of burdensome debt. The firm offers a free debt consultation, as well as reasonable and affordable payment plans for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases.
So, whichever attorneys end up on your list, follow these guidelines in deciding whether to hire them. Don't settle for anything less; your financial future is too important.