If you have decided to hire an attorney to help you file for bankruptcy, it’s important to choose the right lawyer for the job. Read on to learn more about how to find a good bankruptcy attorney in your area.
Because bankruptcy is a specialized area of the law, you should not hire just any attorney to represent you. When you are looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, make sure to choose an attorney who specializes in or has a significant amount of bankruptcy law experience.
The following are some of the most common sources you can use to find a good bankruptcy attorney:
Many bankruptcy attorneys obtain new clients through referrals from debtors they have represented in the past. If you have any family members, friends, or colleagues who have gone through bankruptcy, they may be able to recommend an attorney they know and trust to handle your case effectively.
In addition to your friends and family, other lawyers can be a great source of information for attorney recommendations. If you have used the services of an attorney for other legal matters (such as estate planning), your attorney can typically refer you to a competent bankruptcy lawyer that he or she knows.
Certain employers offer their workers group legal services or plans as part of their benefits. If you are part of a group legal plan, talk to the attorneys participating in your plan to see if they are familiar with bankruptcy or if they can refer you to someone who is more knowledgeable in that area.
Many county and state bar organizations have referral services that connect potential clients with attorneys in their area. While some referral services check the credentials of the participating attorneys (or require a certain amount of experience in a given practice area), many don’t screen the attorneys who join the referral program. If you receive a lead from a referral service, make sure to check the attorney’s experience and credentials for yourself.
There are many legal clinics and legal aid societies that provide free or reduced-cost legal services to low-income individuals. If your income is low enough to qualify, you may be able to receive assistance from one of these nonprofit organizations. But keep in mind that most legal clinics and legal aid societies typically don’t represent debtors in bankruptcy cases. However, they may be able to provide you with more information or refer you to a good bankruptcy attorney.
To learn more, see What Can I Do If I Can’t Afford a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
You can find several directories of bankruptcy attorneys on the Internet or in local legal publications. In most cases, these lists are generated by private companies and don’t provide or guarantee the credentials of the attorneys on the directory. For this reason, research the credentials and experience of the bankruptcy attorneys listed in legal directories prior to hiring them. Nolo's Lawyer Directory allows the attorneys to post information about themselves, so you can learn about their bankruptcy experience, philosophy of representing clients, typical fees, and more.
For more information on whether you should hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy, see our topic area on Getting Help With Your Bankruptcy.