You are searching for a cheap bankruptcy attorney. I get it. Money is tight. You need those garnishments to stop right now but you can’t come up with the money to file bankruptcy. All bankruptcy attorneys do the same basic function, so why not hire the cheapest guy out there?
In fact, there is some truth to this thinking. All bankruptcy attorneys do perform the same basic function. They list your debts, property, income and expenses on the bankruptcy petition and attend the court hearing with you. So why not hire a cheap Omaha bankruptcy attorney?
In my experience, the most expensive you will ever hire is a cheap bankruptcy attorney.
Cheap bankruptcy attorneys work alone.
Cheap attorneys can’t afford to pay rent at a decent law office, so they wind up isolated in a cheap office suite or they work out of their home. They are isolated. They lack colleagues to talk to and therefore they don’t get the chance to talk about your case before filing it. Great bankruptcy attorneys work in teams. They help each other, they teach each other and they have their buddies review cases before the pull the trigger and file a case. Older colleagues share their horror stories and help young attorneys avoid the same mistakes they made.
Cheap attorneys take wild risks and are often clueless about the risks they take. They lack experience and are desperate for money, so they cross their fingers, say a prayer and file the case hoping everything “works out.” At the other end of the line is the experienced and aggressive Chapter 7 Trustee who is paid on a commission when he finds unprotected assets, tax refunds, voidable payments to family members, and unprotected business assets. The cheap attorney is no match for the experienced Trustee.
Cheap bankruptcy attorneys lack resources.
Great bankruptcy firms share overhead and they are able to hire the best staff, the best computer technology and legal research resources. They purchase specialized credit reports to ensure all creditors are listed and they pay for expensive online court subscriptions to search for lawsuits, garnishments, judgments and liens. They purchase specialized background reports to ensure all assets and property transfers are reported on the bankruptcy schedules.
Cheap attorneys cut corners to save costs. They often report only the debts provided by their clients and fail to pay the additional expense to acquire credit reports, asset reports and legal research. They are frequently surprises in court when the Trustee asks questions about asset transfers they failed to uncover.
Cheap bankruptcy attorneys lack quality-check systems.
Great firms spend years training their attorney and paralegal staff. They establish standard procedures to ensure that every case is prepared correctly. They hold regular meetings to review procedures, new cases, and they use quality control checklists. They continuously attend and sponsor legal education courses and share their knowledge with their team.
Cheap attorneys frequently lack any staff let alone an experienced one. They do much of the paperwork themselves and they have nobody to review their work. They never bother to establish quality control systems since there is no team to manage. In the process, they overlook small details that turn into big problems.
Cheap bankruptcy attorneys lose assets.
About 30 days after the bankruptcy case is filed you must attend a meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. The meeting is held at the federal courthouse, and the meetings are public. We all get to watch each other in this profession. We see who does good work and we witness those cheap attorneys who basically run their clients into a grinder. Cheap attorneys lack experience and training. They constantly lose tax refunds because they fail to anticipate the amount and timing of the refund. They loose vehicles because the file to properly value the vehicle. They fail to ask their clients important questions and the bankruptcy trustees often uncover voidable transfers to family members and business associates. Bankruptcy trustees know who these cheap attorneys are and they instinctively attack their cases because they know the attorney did not perform a detailed investigation of the debtor.
Cheap bankruptcy attorneys often lack insurance.
Nebraska does not require attorneys to purchase professional insurance Cheap attorneys frequently cannot afford the premium. Cheap attorneys often lack significant personal assets so they are not worried if they make a big mistake–they have nothing to lose.
Want to hire a cheap bankruptcy attorney? Think again. The most expensive attorney you will ever hire is the cheapest one out there.
Image courtesy of Flickr and Eric E. Castro.