At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, more than 1.4 million people filed for bankruptcy protection. As the American economy struggled to regain its balance, that number actually increased the following year. Nearly 1.6 million citizens applied for protection in federal court in 2010, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the US Courts.
Although applications have declined lately, tens of millions of Americans are in constant danger of being overwhelmed by their debts. Not surprisingly, attorneys working in this field are in high demand. In this article, we will discuss exactly what these legal professionals do and how they can save you from losing it all.
But before we start, no one wants to file for bankruptcy. Although quite common, presentation is an incredibly unpleasant process. It is also a public admission of failure, which is why few Americans do so willingly.
Why contact an attorney?
Because the US Bankruptcy Code is incredibly complicated, people considering filing for protection should call a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Yes, a person can represent themselves in court, but it is rarely a good idea. Attorneys spend years studying the thick language of the United States tax code before going to court. A neophyte cannot compete. It is also important to note that if you make a single mistake in your petition or file it incorrectly, your case could be summarily dismissed.
What to Look for in a Bankruptcy Lawyer
To begin with, the attorney must be considerate enough to offer a free consultation. After all, you are requesting protection because you cannot pay your bills. Paying consultation fees in addition to what you will be charged for your case really is a waste. Fortunately, most of the best attorneys in the field offer free initial meetings. It is also best to speak with more than one legal professional before making a decision.
The most important consideration when looking for a bankruptcy attorney is experience. In other words, you must specialize in bankruptcy law. As we mentioned, the code that governs this area of legal practice is extremely complicated and a lawyer who does not specialize in it may not be able to compete with those who do. It is also important to contact a professional in your area, as different states and regions may have different laws.
An experienced legal advisor should also be a great negotiator. Since most of these cases are resolved, it is important to ask about a potential attorney’s success in negotiating favorable terms with specific examples.
Last but not least, it is important to consider the hourly rate. Because most cases take time, clients can end up owing a fortune if the attorney charges a high fee. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask for a rough estimate before agreeing to anything. If you can afford the fees and the attorney seems to know what he is doing, you may have found your match.