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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Detroit Bankruptcy Attorney

If you’re having trouble keeping up with your debts, you may be considering filing for bankruptcy. Your financial situation may have you under pressure, and you may want to hire a Detroit bankruptcy attorney. But it’s important to choose the right attorney to be your advocate, guide and legal representative.  

The first step to finding the right Detroit consumer bankruptcy lawyer is to ask the right questions. This article will explain some vital topics, but you should feel free to ask about any issue that is important to you.

The Initial Consultation with a Detroit Bankruptcy Attorney

The initial consultation is the first meeting between you and an attorney. The meeting is informational only; you have not hired the lawyer at this point. You may need to meet with more than one Detroit bankruptcy attorney before you find the right fit, so find the names of a few attorneys you’d like to meet.

Think of the initial consultation as an interview, where the attorney learns about you, and you ask questions and learn about:

  • The attorney’s experience and background
  • Whether you should file a Detroit consumer bankruptcy, and if you are eligible
  • The cost of hiring the attorney
  • The bankruptcy process and possible outcomes

Be sure to prepare for the initial consultation. Make a list of questions and concerns, get together your financial records, legal notices and creditor information, and be ready to take notes. This is your time to learn about bankruptcy and to find out if you will work well with the attorney. Your notes will help you hire the right Detroit consumer bankruptcy lawyer.

Important Questions to Ask a Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer

These questions are not the only ones you should ask, but they are key questions to help you learn about the attorney. Ask about the attorney’s:

Background & Experience

  • What law school did you attend?
  • Are you a member of the Detroit and Michigan Bar Associations or any other professional organizations?
  • How long have you been practicing law in Detroit, and how much of that time has been working in Detroit consumer bankruptcy?
  • Is bankruptcy the main focus of your law practice, and do you take cases outside of that area?
  • How many bankruptcy cases do you have right now?
  • How familiar are you with the process, judges and staff of the federal bankruptcy court?

Assessment of Your Case

It’s important to know the attorney’s opinion of your bankruptcy case, but also how he approaches your case and plans to work with it going forward. You can find out the lawyer's approach by asking:

  • Am I eligible to file bankruptcy? If so, which type of bankruptcy should I file?
  • Should I file bankruptcy now?
  • Are their any negatives or issues that might prevent me from completing my bankruptcy?
  • What is the process for handling my bankruptcy?

Case Management

Case management refers to the way that the attorney and his staff work on your case. Case management is important because it tells you about the attorney’s approach to your case, and lets you know what to expect. Ask:

  • Will you or another attorney be handling my case?
  • Who will be making the court appearances?
  • How many more people will be assisting you?
  • Can I meet the members of your team who will be working on my case?
  • Whom should I contact with questions, and how quickly will I get a response?
  • How often will I receive status reports on my bankruptcy?

Legal Fees

Clients are always sensitive to legal fees, and particularly in bankruptcy, where money is clearly an issue. It’s critical to understand the fee structure and payment options offered by the attorney. Ask the Detroit bankruptcy attorney:

  • Do you charge a flat fee or by the hour?
  • What is your hourly rate?
  • What do you expect my total bill will be?
  • Do I need to pay a retainer fee before you start my case?
  • What costs and expenses do you anticipate? Will I be responsible for paying them?

That may seem like a lot of questions, but they all help to paint a total picture of a Detroit consumer bankruptcy lawyer.

When you have completed your initial consultation with each attorney on your list, look over your notes and evaluate each attorney. List the favorable and unfavorable points of each and decide with whom you would feel most comfortable handling your case. Consider cost, experience and their approach to your case. If you still have difficulty with your decision, don’t hesitate to contact each attorney’s references and get feedback on their experience working with the attorney.

A Detroit consumer bankruptcy attorney can bring you peace of mind and help you bring your finances under control. Take the time, and follow these steps, to make sure you find the right one for you.