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13 tips to avoid hiring a bad bankruptcy attorney
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6. Find out who sits on local bankruptcy court panels.
Mitchell says to check out the trustee panel. "These are attorneys who are regularly in bankruptcy court and are well enough respected to be put on the panel," he says.

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Graves recommends you also get the names of lawyers on the local bankruptcy court's debtor or creditor committees. "People on these committees do it to attract business, but they also take their work seriously," says the former judge.

7. Check out the law firm's offices.
You're not looking for how tastefully a lawyer's office is decorated, but how well-organized an office is, as well as the general environment. This office appraisal can give you vital clues as to how a lawyer would handle your case.

"Look around the office and see how well organized it is. Is it neat or are there 25 folders spread around the floor," asks Judge Graves. "You wouldn't go to a doctor with a dirty examining room and you don't want to go to a lawyer with a disorganized office."

8. Ask questions.
Once you have some candidates, interview them or someone at the law firm. Be sure to ask:

  • How many bankruptcies do you handle in a month or in a year?
  • How many of those bankruptcies are consumer/personal rather than business filings?
  • How much access will I have to an attorney during my bankruptcy filing?
  • If I'm not working directly with you (the lawyer), who will I be working with?
  • Can I interview the person who I would be working with?
  • What time frame do you have for this bankruptcy?
  • How will the procedure work?

This is a critical decision, so if you get evasive answers, it's probably a red flag that this is not the firm for you.

9. Evaluate the responses.
Because bankruptcy law is a volume business, the time you'll actually be working with a specific attorney may be small. In fact, with most consumer bankruptcies the client works with a clerk or a paralegal; your actual attorney won't come into play until your day in court.

 
 
Next: Understand your role.
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