Why should I hire a lawyer?
Only lawyers are allowed to give you legal
advise and lawyers are bound by ethical rules to act in your best interest. A lawyer can tell you options that best meet
your goals and protect your interests, and we don't put your creditors' needs ahead of yours.
You don't want just any lawyer. You want a lawyer who knows what they are doing and who has lots of experience
in bankruptcy law. You want a lawyer who is going to take the time to meet with you and to explain how the law works. And
you need a lawyer who is licensed in your state and regularly practices law in your local area. While bankruptcy law is federal
law, each area has local quirks and you want your lawyer to know what they are.
You are not required to have a lawyer to file bankruptcy, but if you don't know the law you can
find yourself facing unintended results, including loosing some of your assets or being dismissed from your case.
The Internet is a wonderful tool. I use it myself, as you know since you are reading my web site.
But it also allows anyone to advertise anything, even if they aren't qualified. You don't even know if they
are in the same country as you, let alone be in a position to check their credentials.
I am seeing more problems due to non-lawyers giving legal advice and/or preparing bankruptcy documents
over the Internet. I also see lots of problems coming from people contacting debt settlement or credit counselors who steer
people away from getting legal advise, and cost the debtors lots of money in fees and payments. Many of violating Federal
and State laws, many are giving legal advice without a law license, and many are doing in incorrectly and inaccurately. The
worst part is that much of their so called advice is wrong, and if you follow it you are the one who is going to pay the price.
Despite what some do-it-yourself web sites say, this new law is complicated and it requires you
to fill out hard to understand legal documents, and take exact steps. Each person is different, and each case is different.
There is no "one size fits all" way to fill out the forms. If you don't do it correctly you may find that you have created
a problem that might not be able to be fixed, and that Internet preparation service won't be there to help either.
The forms that are required are more difficult than they look and what you are required to put
into them is not always apparent. There are things that people unfamiliar with bankruptcy law overlook or don't understand.
All non lawyers are prohibited by law from giving you any legal advise, even to tell you seemingly simple things.
All a non lawyer can do is to type exactly what you tell them, even if it is wrong. You can type
it (or write it) for free yourself, if you insist on doing this without a lawyer, and you will save a few hundred dollars
to put towards hiring an attorney if you need one to fix things. The problem is, by the time you have a problem an attorney
will probably cost you more money than to have done it right to begin with!
With the complications under the new law, it is more difficult now for non-lawyers to find their way through
the bankruptcy system. There are many more requirements to file bankruptcy, more information to
submit, and more pitfalls that you will likely need a lawyer to help you navigate. The law has many irregularities in it
that will probably take years to iron out, and has resulted in a very confusing process.
Even under the old law, most of the problems I have seen come up for people who don't have a lawyer
are problems that would not have occurred if a good lawyer had prepared their case.
These problems could just be that corrected documents have to be filed, but they may be, among
other things, loosing property and money, being denied access to bankruptcy by having a case dismissed, or being pulled into
a drawn out legal process. Once problems arise, a lawyer will often have to charge more to try to fix it (and not always
able to fix it) then to have done it right to begin with.
How long does bankruptcy stay on your credit report?