Accepting Chapter 13 CasesI am presently accepting Chapter 13 cases. I accept other bankruptcy cases involving consumer debtors or litigation on behalf of consumers in the Bankruptcy Court by referral only.
Beware of high-volume or low-cost lawyers!
When selecting a lawyer to handle a Chapter 7 case, be a smart consumer:
- A house painter won't give you a firm quote without seeing your house, so don't expect a lawyer to price your bankruptcy case over the phone.
- Ask your lawyer these questions:
- Who will interview me? (You want a lawyer, not a paralegal).
- Will you review my petition in detail with me before filing it? (Lawyers are obligated to do this, but not all of them do.)
- Will you check the title to my home? (A lawyer who doesn't will miss judgment liens that could be avoided and junior liens that could be stripped off in Chapter 13.)
- Will you be with me at the meeting with the trustee? (You want the same lawyer who handles your intake and petition review to be with you all the way.)
- Will you represent me if someone violates the bankruptcy stay or the discharge injunction? (Many bankruptcy lawyers are willing to fill out forms, but they don't want to go to court.)
- Be sure you understand what extra charges there might be. (If your attorney tries to charge you extra in the middle of the case, write a letter to the judge complaining about it! The Bankruptcy Court carefully reviews the fees lawyers charge debtors.)
- Be sure you pick a lawyer who will get an actual inventory of your personal property and a list of your actual expenses. (Many bankruptcy lawyers put down estimates on the schedules without ever checking to see if they are accurate.)
- Be sure you pick a lawyer who will review your collection letters and your bills from doctors and others who don't report to credit bureaus. (Many bankruptcy lawyers simply download a credit report into their forms software without ever checking to see if you owe other debts. Creditors who don't get notice of a bankruptcy case can still collect from you.)
- Be sure you pick a lawyer who will review your actual paystubs and bank statements. (Ordinary people fail to disclose important things because they think they don't matter. You can lose your discharge, or your relatives can be sued by your trustee, if your lawyer doesn't thoroughly review your financial history.)
- Run away from a lawyer who seems willing to hide any fact about your situation, such as under-the-table income, repayments of debts to relatives, assets that you've tried to put out of reach, etc. (Good lawyers take their ethical responsibility of candor to the court very seriously. Trustees are aware of who tries to shade the truth and will ferret these things out. An unethical lawyer will try to throw you under the bus when bad news comes to light.)
- Above all, realize that your Chapter 7 case is not as simple as you may think!. Only a trained and experienced bankruptcy lawyer can spot all the issues that might exist in your case.