The financial aspect of your life is disastrous even though you worked hard and played by the “rules”!  Something happened on your way to your goals and plans.  Maybe there were mounting medical bills, or an unexpected job loss, or perhaps a divorce resulting in two separate households having to live on the same amount of money that one did before.  Perhaps a technological change made your job expendable or your business less profitable.  Maybe you had to cash in part of a 401(k) and got hit with the unexpected tax consequences.  Maybe one of your children got into trouble and you had legal expenses.  Whatever it was, you need professional assistance from someone who really knows what they’re doing!

When you call that bankruptcy lawyer, how do you know if they know what they’re doing? It’s important!  You need these problems fixed, you need them fixed correctly and completely, and you need them fixed now!  Calling around for “fee quotes” – usually nothing more than estimates based on a 60 second telephone description of your problem which can change later – could result in getting the cheapest bankruptcy professional, but not necessarily one who knows what they are doing.  Looking for the biggest, most imposing advertisement – which will likely get you someone who lists so many areas of law as their specialty that they couldn’t possibly know what they’re doing in all of them – and they have to charge you enough to pay for the big, imposing ad.

You could ask your family, friends and neighbors who they used, because chances are one of them has filed some type of bankruptcy.  When you ask them who they used, also make sure to ask them if they were treated with dignity and respect; ask them if they were satisfied with their responsiveness to questions;  ask them if once the lawyer was paid, he or she ever bothered with them again; and perhaps, most importantly, ask them if after their case was over, their financial life got better, or was it still disastrous as a result of the way it was handled!  Are they back on the road to the American dream, or have they wrecked on the mediocre intersection of” too busy” and “don’t care?”

Most of the time, good lawyers don’t cost that much more than “average” lawyers and in the long run they typically save you a great deal.   Their offices are run in a professional and businesslike manner (they make and keep appointments) and they treat you courteously and treat your problems seriously.

Check their web pages and see if they have earned meaningful specialty certifications.  You can tell if their fellow lawyers, judges and trustees acknowledge their experience and ability by the offices that they have elected them to, by the professional books and articles they have published and if they’ve generously provided free, helpful information and content. 

Having to file bankruptcy is probably an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.  Hire a lawyer who will ensure that your memory is one of relief and not one of bitterness.

© David G. Hicks, Attorney at Law

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