Price Shopping Legal Services is Not Always a Great Idea
Well, the first question, first! Choosing your Bankruptcy attorney is an important task, so treat it as such. Many times, bankruptcy attorneys are the only attorneys that our clients have ever seen, so it’s a new experience, on top of the financial stress. This can lead to a mistake in the selection process. Especially to someone having trouble paying their bills, forking over $1000 or more for attorneys fees can seem quite high.
I am certainly sympathetic to this point of view, the cost of bankruptcy can seem overwhelming to someone experiencing financial stress, and it is only normal to factor price when choosing a law firm. Having said that, most people understand price, but almost no one understands the value of good representation. There are quite a few things that can go wrong in a bankruptcy case and paying a little bit more for an established firm up front, can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
The point is, when you’re looking for bankruptcy lawyer, don’t go based on price alone.
Selecting a Bankruptcy Lawyer: Choose Carefully
Selecting a bankruptcy attorney is not like shopping for a car or getting a good deal on a consumer item. The relationship is much more important than the price. So, no, cheaper is not necessarily better. Do your homework. Do some research. Check your state bar web page to determine how long the attorney has been practicing, and to see if there are any public issues. Check the BBB to see if there are any long outstanding or long history of complaints. Check Yelp to see if there are any long history of negative comments. Check the affiliations or memberships with relevant bankruptcy groups, such as the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys at www.nacba.org . Ask around for a referral from family or friends. Be sure to meet with your attorney or one of the associate attorneys, so that you have a comfort level in your ability to communicate, and to receive effective representation. Ask questions regarding overall successes and failures in the practice of Ch 7 and Ch. 13. After this, price for representation is almost secondary.
Certainly, you will have to be able to afford your attorney, so price is a factor, but remember, in a sense, your creditors are paying for your attorneys fees, not you, as you will likely use your former ‘minimum’ creditor payments to help pay for your bankruptcy. So, get the best experienced bankruptcy attorney you can, first and foremost.
Rob Cohen, the Managing Partner of Cohen & Cohen P.C., is a bankruptcy attorney that practices in Colorado and Wyoming. He serves as a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Panel Trustee, and has to date administered over 8,000 Chapter 7 bankruptcy estates. Rob is a Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist, and was nominated for Denver Business Journal’s 40 under 40 in both 2014 and 2016.