How to Find a Quality Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney

Posted by on Mar 12, 2012 in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Issues, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Issues | 0 comments

So what should you look for when choosing the right consumer bankruptcy attorney for your case?  Everyone should want to retain a quality consumer bankruptcy attorney for peace of mind.   You want to know your attorney has your best interest at hand and that you will be taken care of personally by the attorney representing you.  You also want a competent attorney who knows bankuptcy law.

In the case of In re Thao Tran Nguyen, 447 B.R. 268 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2011), the 9th Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (9th Cir BAP) held that an attorney practicing bankruptcy law was ordered to pay a $7,500 sanction to the court, return the client’s attorneys fees, and was prohibited from practicing bankrutpcy law until the attorney completed continuing legal education in bankruptcy law.  In this case, the client almost exclusively met with the attorney’s wife, who was not a lawyer licensed to practice law in California but was part of the attorney’s staff.  The client in this case signed incomplete documents for a chapter 7 case, meaning the petition and its related documents were not fully completed for the client’s review.  This should never be the case as the information in bankruptcy schedules should be completed when a client reviews the petition before signing and filing the documents with the court.

Eventually the petition was filed, but many of the client’s assets were not disclosed as part of the bankruptcy.  The trustee filed a motion contending the client filed a bankruptcy in bad faith and sought to deny a discharge.  During the trial, the facts above came to light regarding the attorney’s office procedures.  This resulted in the bankruptcy court determing that the attorney did not comply with the necessary due diligence all bankruptcy attorneys must undertake when preparing a bankruptcy case.

Lessons to learn in searching for a quality consumer bankruptcy attorney:

* Make sure you are meeting with the actual attorney.   When you do not meet with the actual attorney, you are not getting your money’s worth.

*  Make sure your attorney is the one who meets with you when you review your petition for signing.  If you are not meeting with the attorney when you sign the actual bankruptcy documents, you are not getting your money’s worth.

*  Ask the attorney how many successful cases she/he has filed.  Ask if any clients have ever been denied a discharge (that usually means something went really wrong with the case) or had assets seized by the trustee (also not a good outcome unless it was expected or desired by both the attorney and client before filing to otherwise file a successful case).

*  Ask the bankruptcy attorney for his/her specific bankrupty credentials and why he/she is competent to handle your case.   Beware of the so-called bankruptcy attorney who spends about 10-20 minutes with you before offering to file your case right then and there.

* Trust your instincts in selecting the right consumer bankruptcy attorney.  Most consumer bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations these days, so if the first attorney you go to doesn’t feel like the right fit, walk away.

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