If you’re struggling with debt and considering bankruptcy, the biggest question in your mind is probably “Which bankruptcy lawyer should I go to?” It’s one of the most important decisions to make – filing bankruptcy will have a significant impact on your life. Bankruptcy law is very complex, with many twists and turns, and traps for the unwary. If you need to file bankruptcy, choosing the right lawyer is critical.
The simple truth is that a more experienced attorney will do a better job, which means getting you the most benefit from filing and avoiding the mistakes that someone less experienced is bound to make.
Don’t take chances. Here are some of the questions you should ask in order to find the best available bankruptcy lawyer:
1. Do you practice bankruptcy law full time?
You want a full-time bankruptcy lawyer, who spends all his or her time getting better at representing people in bankruptcy. You want a lawyer who knows the bankruptcy code and the local rules inside and out. Someone who has a good, established working relationship with the local trustee and knows his or her preferences, who has a good reputation before the local bankruptcy judge, who knows which way the local bankruptcy judge tends to lean on certain key issues, and who enjoys the respect of the local creditor lawyers.
What you don’t want is a jack-of-all-trades lawyer, who does a little of everything, but doesn’t specialize in any one area. Think about it. He or she may be great at handling a real estate closing, drafting a will, or taking care of a speeding ticket, but if a lawyer does anything other than bankruptcy, he or she is obviously not spending all his or her time learning and staying sharp on bankruptcy law. There is a reason that most lawyers limit their law practices to one area of law or another. You want the lawyer that does nothing but bankruptcy law for a living.
Here at Rubin & Associates, we do nothing but bankruptcy law. Period.
2. How many years have you done bankruptcy full time?
You have to be careful here. Lots of lawyers advertise years and years of experience. The question you should ask is “How many of those years did you spend doing nothing but bankruptcy law?” Generally, the more years, the better. For example, full time for 10 years is much better than full time for a month or even a year.
I’ve limited my practice solely to bankruptcy law since 1991.
3. How many bankruptcy cases have you filed?
You want the best bankruptcy lawyer available. In most cases, the more cases a lawyer has filed, the more experience the lawyer brings to the table. The more expertise a lawyer brings to the table, the better the result, benefit and protection you and your family will get.
We have filed thousands of cases since the early nineties.
4. How many Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases have you filed?
This is a very telling question. Lots of lawyers file a few Chapter 7 cases. Some even practice bankruptcy full time, but only do Chapter 7 cases. Chapter 7 is typically much easier and less complicated than Chapter 13. In my experience, the best, most experienced lawyers handle lots of both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases.
Yes – we’ve handled thousands of Chapter 13 cases.
5. Are you a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)?
This is the one national association for consumer bankruptcy attorneys. Not all good bankruptcy attorneys are a member, but membership in this organization is generally a good indication of a strong commitment to providing the very best in bankruptcy services to the public.
All of the lawyers at Rubin & Associates are members of NACBA.
6. How good is the lawyer’s reputation?
You want a lawyer with a record of success who has earned and enjoys the respect of his or her colleagues, including bankruptcy attorneys, the trustees, and the local bankruptcy judges.
But which of these people should you contact? Perhaps the best indication of whether a lawyer is one of the best is to call and ask the local Chapter 13 Trustee or someone on this trustee’s staff. The local Chapter 13 trustee and the trustee’s staff know who the good bankruptcy lawyers are. The Chapter 13 trustee deals with these lawyers on a day to day basis. When you call, you probably won’t get to talk to the trustee, but that’s OK… Just talk to someone on his or her staff. If the trustee’s staff is hesitant to recommend a lawyer, at least ask “Which lawyers filed the most Chapter 13 cases?” and then try to slip in this question: “Off the record, if you had to file bankruptcy, who would you use?” I suspect that most of the time, they will give you the name of a few lawyers.
If you have any other questions about bankruptcy, you can call our office at any time – we’re happy to walk you through the process. You can even schedule a free, no obligation consultation – call 214-760-7777 today!