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Factors to Consider When Hiring a Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney

Hiring a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney may seem overwhelming. There are so many factors to consider when sizing up potential candidates. Does this lawyer have the experience I need? Do I agree with the lawyer's legal recommendations? Should I place my confidence in this lawyer?

This article discusses all of those considerations in more detail.

It is important to meet with a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney before you decide to hire one. Many such lawyers are willing to meet with you briefly in what is called an initial consultation. You can accomplish several goals at the initial consultations. You can:

  • Learn about a lawyer’s experience
  • Discuss your bankruptcy options
  • Determine whether this is the attorney you want representing you

Most initial consultations are free. However, double check when you make the appointment that this is the case with the attorney you want to meet.

Evaluating a Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney

At the initial consultation, you should ask questions that will help you understand what kind of experience the bankruptcy attorney brings to the table. You’ll want an attorney with a solid background of representing clients with financial situations similar to your own.

Not all bankruptcy attorneys handle bankruptcies exclusively. If the attorney you interview practices in other areas of the law, you’ll want to know how often he helps clients file for bankruptcy.

Some attorneys belong to professional organizations. Find out if the Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer you interview belongs to any, especially if those groups keep track of the latest developments in bankruptcy law.

Strategy

Consumer bankruptcy attorneys may ask you to bring documentation of your financial situation so they can better assess your situation. Based on your current debts, your employment status and whether you have any assets, bankruptcy may or may not be the best answer for you.

Ask the lawyer for his or her opinion. Then ask the lawyer for the reasons that support that recommendation.

In addition, there are several types of bankruptcy. If the attorneys you meet recommend filing bankruptcy, find out which type is the best for you. Find out if you’ll be able to hold onto any property you own and whether you’ll be able to extinguish all debts.

Legal Fees

Most consumer bankruptcy attorneys in Los Angeles bill their clients in one of two ways, either by the hour or with a flat fee. Both have their advantages.

An experienced, respected bankruptcy attorney who charges by the hour may seem expensive on the surface. But if the experience and reputation speeds your filing along, you could end up saving money and emerge from your financial crisis sooner.

A flat fee gives you a better idea of how much your legal matter will cost. But, just like lawyers who charge an hourly fee, lawyers who charge a flat fee do not include many items in their fees, including court fees, consumer counseling fees and trustee fees. (The trustee is the personal assigned to oversee your bankruptcy filing.)

In addition, flat fees are not refundable should you change your mind about filing for bankruptcy or decide to switch attorneys. If you have any reservations about the attorney or your filing, discuss them before you agree to hire him.

Hourly fees can vary because of experience and even location. What a lawyer in Beverly Hills charges may be very different from the fees of a bankruptcy lawyer in Santa Clarita.

Be sure you understand how the bankruptcy attorneys you meet bill for their time and how much your total bill might be, including related legal fees.

Trust, Confidence & Judgment

As you are interviewing potential bankruptcy attorneys, consider how the answers make you feel. Do not disregard your instincts. Does the lawyer have a likeable demeanor? Would your confidence be well placed in this attorney? Does he demonstrate good judgment?

You may be working with your Los Angeles consumer bankruptcy lawyer for some time. These subjective measures are important indicators of how smoothly your filing might go and how satisfied you will be at the end of the process.

After you have wrapped up your initial consultation, it’s time to review how the lawyer compares to your expectations in the areas of:

  • Experience
  • Strategy
  • Legal fees
  • Trustworthiness

If he or she measures up, then you have found the Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer for you. You are now ready to proceed with your bankruptcy filing.

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