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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Boston Bankruptcy Attorney

Whether you live in Beacon Hill or Brookline, Jamaica Plain or Allston, making ends meet can be extremely difficult. And the time may come when you just get too far behind and have to consider bankruptcy. Before filing for bankruptcy, you need to hire a Boston bankruptcy attorney. And if you've never before hired a lawyer, you may not know what questions to ask. This article will suggest some.

Bankruptcy laws were created to help people get a fresh start financially. Once you file for bankruptcy, you can sort out your finances without having collectors calling to collect on money you owe.

According to the American Bar Association, consumers are most likely to file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is known as a "straight" bankruptcy.

If you decide to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need to have a steady income and you will have to repay some of your debt.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Boston Bankruptcy Attorney

There are a lot of bankruptcy attorneys in Boston, but you don't want to hire one just because you saw an ad on television. It's always important to ask for recommendations, but you need to find the lawyer who works best for you. To do that, you'll want to meet with an attorney before hiring him to ensure that it's a good fit.

Before meeting with an attorney, you will need to gather information about your Boston consumer bankruptcy filing. Find out exactly how much you owe and whether you are in an emergency situation, such as facing a foreclosure. Consider the type of debt you have as well--has an illness overwhelmed your family with medical bills, did you lose your job or have you fallen behind on credit card payments?

Come to the meetings with questions about your specific situation:

  • Do I qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or is a Chapter 7 the best approach?
  • Which of my debts are secured, and which are not?
  • What will I be able to keep, and what will I lose in a bankruptcy?
  • How will my credit be affected?
  • How long will my bankruptcy proceeding take?

Professional Background, Practice and Style

You should also ask the lawyer about his background, legal practice and how he manages bankruptcy filings:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • How many bankruptcy proceedings have you handled?
  • Do you focus only on bankruptcy, or do you practice other areas of law?
  • Will you handle my case, or will someone else at the law firm do it?
  • If other people at the firm are helping with my bankruptcy, can I meet with them?
  • Do you belong to the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association or any other bar associations and professional groups?
  • How often will I receive reports on the progress of my bankruptcy?
  • What is the best way to contact you, and how quickly do you usually respond?

Understanding Legal Costs

You will also need to ask about each lawyer's billing practices. Some lawyers will bill by the hour, while others may charge a flat fee for bankruptcy. You may have heard of contingency fees, where an attorney will take a case for no money up front. However, lawyers will only handle a case on a contingency basis when there is a chance of a large payout or settlement, which isn't an option in bankruptcy. So you will not find a Boston bankruptcy attorney who will handle your case on a contingency basis. When you discuss billing rates, be sure to ask specific questions and make sure you understand the lawyer's answer:

  • If you bill by the hour, what is your hourly rate?
  • How much do I need to pay up front?
  • If you use a flat rate, what is the rate?
  • Does that include filing fees, courts costs or any other expenses?

Deciding Which Boston Bankruptcy Lawyer to Hire

Once you have talked with several lawyers, you will need to ask yourself several questions:

  • Which lawyer made you feel the most comfortable?
  • Which lawyer seemed to understand you and your situation the best?
  • Who had the most reasonable fees?

By asking the right questions, you can be sure to hire the right Boston consumer bankruptcy lawyer to help you through the bankruptcy process. Once you do, you can start again with a clean slate.