Cara O'Neill


Cara O'Neill is a legal editor at Nolo, focusing on bankruptcy and small claims. She also maintains a bankruptcy practice at the Law Office of Cara O’Neill and teaches criminal law and legal ethics as an adjunct professor. Cara has been quoted in bankruptcy, finance, small claims, and litigation articles by news outlets that include USA Today, CNBC, U.S. News & World Report, Nerd Wallet, and Yahoo Finance.

Cara received her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she graduated a member of the Order of the Barristers—a highly-selective honor society that gives national recognition to top law school graduates demonstrating excellent skills in trial advocacy, oral advocacy, and brief writing.

Working at Nolo. Cara started writing for Nolo as a freelancer in 2014 and became a full-time legal editor in 2016. She has authored a number of Nolo self-help legal books, including How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, The New Bankruptcy, Everybody's Guide to Small Claims (national version), and Everybody's Guide to Small Claims in California. She also co-authors and edits Solve Your Money Troubles and Credit Repair and has written hundreds of articles for,,, and

Early legal career. Before joining Nolo, Cara spent 20 years working as a trial attorney litigating criminal and civil cases. She also served as an administrative law judge mediating disputes between auto manufacturers and dealerships and began teaching law as an adjunct professor in 2004. She added bankruptcy to her practice after the 2008 financial downturn.

Origins of litigation and writing career. Thanks to her mother, Cara’s advocacy training began early and involuntarily. In junior high school, she took second place two years running in the local Optimist Club speaking competition. She also successfully competed on her high school speech and debate team for several years, eventually serving as president of the same. During law school, she competed on a nationally ranked ABA moot court team for two years (and was recruited for a third, but declined) and served as a law journal editor.

Articles By Cara O'Neill

Debt Settlement Can't Protect You from Being Sued by Credit Card Companies
People often turn to debt settlement or debt consolidation agencies in a good faith attempt to pay back their debts.
Can Bankruptcy's Automatic Stay Stop Wage Garnishment?
If your wages have been garnished, the automatic stay, which goes into effect when you file for bankruptcy, can put a stop to it.
Will You Have to Close Your Business if You File for Personal Bankruptcy?
You may have to shut your business down if you file for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy. However, if you own an LLC or corporation with others, you may be able to keep your doors open, even if you are personally liable for a significant portion of its debt.
The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Repayment Plan
You must be able to devise a repayment plan that you can afford for the repayment period (three to five years), and the court must approve the plan.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy?
Take our short quiz to determine whether your bankruptcy case is simple enough to file without a lawyer.
What Can I Do If I Can't Afford a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
It's tough coming up with legal fees when you're broke and need to file for bankruptcy. But even if you can’t afford an attorney, help might be available through friends and family, legal aid societies, free legal clinics, or pro bono (free of charge) attorneys.
What Are Some Good Questions To Ask a Bankruptcy Attorney?
If you are planning to hire a lawyer to help you with your bankruptcy case, you should shop around. Ask each attorney some basic questions; the answers will tell you a lot about the attorney's style and strategy.
How much does it cost to file bankruptcy in Missouri with a lawyer?
The fee to file a bankruptcy case is the same throughout the United States, including in Missouri. Bankruptcy fees are set by federal law, so they don't vary by state. To file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pay a filing fee of $335. For Chapter 13 cases, the fee is $310.
How much will it cost to file bankruptcy in Georgia with a lawyer?
How much will it cost to file bankruptcy in Georgia with a lawyer?
How much does it cost to file bankruptcy in Tennessee with an attorney?
How much do it cost to file bankruptcy in Tennessee with an attorney?