Bankruptcy Lawyer Price
Chapter 7, 11 and 13 petitioners can pay bankruptcy attorney fees as varied as each individual case. The cost of filing for consumer and commercial debt protection is not cheap; and anyone who has ever been involved in legal proceedings knows that lawyers can be pricey. Clients don't pay for three-piece suits, leather brief cases and flashy cars; but they pay for knowledge, experience and the ability to finely craft a persuasive argument and build a case in favor of the debtor. Without adequate legal counsel, harassing debt-collection tactics would continue; wage garnishments and repossessions would persist; and interest rates, late fees, and penalties would continue to mount. Debtors depend on sound, competent legal expertise to get relief from the overwhelming pressures of personal and business indebtedness. The bankruptcy lawyer price is just another bullet debtors must bite in order to eventually secure debt freedom.
In addition to paying court-imposed filing fees, debtors must also compensate attorneys providing legal representation. Time is money and personal insolvency proceedings can either be relatively simple or involve exhaustive research and consultations. Attorneys usually adjust fees according to the case's complexity. Most lawyers are cognizant of the fact that clients are short on cash, and attorneys are willing to work out favorable payment arrangements for legal fees. Flat rates can range from $750 to $1,250 for personal petitions. Chapters 7 and 13 legal fees usually run in the $500 to $1,500 range. The bankruptcy lawyer price for issuing notices to creditors to immediately cease collection proceedings may be charged separately for a minimal fee usually around $100. Chapter 13 petitioners' repayment plans can be modified to incorporate legal fees and trustee fees, paid from the wage earner's regular income. In the case of commercial proceedings, bankruptcy lawyer prices can range from $5,000 to $100,000 and up and can involve an entire team of legal counselors, paralegals, and assistants. Standard court filing fees for most states are around $300 for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and even higher for Chapter 11. Before considering bankruptcy, debtors should seriously consider if consumer debt protection is an affordable option.
While state courts set ceilings and guidelines on rates lawyers can charge, negotiating a fee falls on the burden of the debtor. Initial consultations can be free of charge, but the clock starts the moment the proceeding ensues. No one can anticipate what an individual case may entail and as more information is disclosed, attorneys may find themselves burning the midnight oil on a particularly complicated petition. The more complex the debtor's personal financial balance sheet, the more complicated it will be to prepare a petition. On a case by case basis, bankruptcy attorney fees can be assessed in three different ways: hourly, for a flat rate, or on a retainer. Debtors should be aware that hourly rates add up quickly. Because proceedings can be exrememly time-consuming, a flat rate or retainer may be easier on the pocketbook. Retainers may include telephone calls and correspondence to debtors, creditors, and trustees; time spent researching public records for property deeds and documentation; or travel time to and from the courtroom. Retainers are usually higher, since the bankruptcy lawyer price includes routine services and contingencies. Lawyers on retainer are paid monthly, but are at the debtor's disposal almost 24/7. Instead of tracking hourly time, the retainer reflects ongoing consultations, telephone calls, conferences, and litigation. Almost every minute the lawyer spends on behalf of the debtor is billable. If the case becomes too complicated and time-consuming, debtors may ask attorneys to quote a flat fee with hourly rates only for extra services and extenuating circumstances. Cases requiring extensive legal research or adversarial creditor lawsuits can increase the cost of proceedings significantly.
But, it's no sense going bankrupt filing bankruptcy. Attorneys have an ethical obligation to charge debtors fair and equitable fees and to help maintain budgetary guidelines. Like the butcher who weighs meat with his thumb on the scale, lawyers need not deal unjustly with those whose defense is entrusted to them. Leviticus 10:35-36 warns, "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have; I am the Lord your God which brought you out of the land of Egypt." Debtors don't have a dime to waste on lawyers who ruthlessly run up hourly fees through trivial conference calls or hide extraneous charges within reorganization or repayment plans. An exorbitant bankruptcy lawyer price can place undue stress on a debt-ridden client and turn a negative experience into a financial nightmare.
When it comes to negotiating bankruptcy attorney fees, you can't play the game if you don't know the rules. Debtors cannot possibly know if the bankruptcy lawyer price is a fair one without comparison shopping. Petitioners may want to call several attorneys and get ballpark quotes. There's no law against scheduling free initial consultations with at least three lawyers and getting a feel for what the case should cost. Once an attorney has been engaged, debtors should ask for an itemized list of routine services, and the cost for contingencies if the case should become prolonged. While some debtors may opt to file do-it-yourself petitions, qualified attorneys can ease the process of preparing, filing and presenting cases to creditors to have debts discharged. But is the expense of hiring a lawyer worth it? Emphatically, yes! If debts are discharged and debtors get a second chance at financial stability, then every dollar of bankruptcy attorney fees is a dollar well spent.