Cheap Bankruptcy Lawyer
Finding cheap or even free bankruptcy attorneys may seem like a daunting task, but a cheap bankruptcy lawyer could be found as close as a local school of law. Many law schools offer public clinics directed by legal professionals. These clinics vow to offer law students the chance to gain valuable experience while providing low or no cost advice to the general public. Students at public and private universities may also obtain free or low cost advice from future lawyers attending a university law program under the supervision of a qualified expert. These legal services are typically offered on per semester or per term basis to students and their families. The advice given by the supervised law student will range from general in nature to a full walkthrough of the legal process. Search for local law schools on the Internet or in a local phone directory and then contact them for information on times and locations of public legal clinics.
Free or low cost consultations with a professional attorney may be merited depending on the depth and complexity of the financial problems involved. As with the university services, make the most of an initial visit by being prepared to present an accurate financial situation to the attorney in order for him to determine a course of action in a timely fashion. These sessions generally will only direct clients along the right path to choosing the appropriate papers to file. The new bankruptcy laws outline these requirements and an experienced certified legal professional may be able to navigate the legal wording of the act's provisions more successfully than the average person or inexperienced law student.
Legal technicians or legal assistants are yet another way to obtain similar legal advice and services that cheap or free bankruptcy attorneys will provide. A legal technician or assistant is typically a lawyer's secretary or aid who has decided to open their own legal assistance business. For fees substantially lower than an attorneys, they will walk a client through the entire legal process. These services are not necessarily governed by the state bar associations and therefore determining the legitimacy and accuracy of the advice received may be difficult. A lawyer registered with the state bar has had his educational background and experience certified. If the risk is worth it in order to save money, search the Internet or local phone directory for legal technicians or legal assistants and as always check their record with a consumer protection agency. Of course, when choosing whether to hire low cost legal assistants, free bankruptcy attorneys or an experienced cheap bankruptcy lawyer, keep in mind the Biblical wisdom, "the labourer is worthy of his hire." (Luke 10:7) With the new bankruptcy laws making the filing process more difficult, an experienced professional may be worth the money.
Many Web-based companies also offer services similar to those of a cheap bankruptcy lawyer or legal assistant and can be found through a search on the Internet. Many of these services will provide an online questionnaire that will allow them to evaluate a financial situation. They will then guide someone through the court-required paperwork tangle for a nominal fee. Other websites further require that a person submit all of their specific financial information via the Internet so that they may fill in the appropriate forms for them. They then email completed forms to print and file with the court, also for a nominal fee. As with any business on the Internet, it is important to be certain that they are a legitimate organization in good standing with a consumer protection agency.
If submitting a financial history via the Internet is not an option, find a professional cheap bankruptcy lawyer, free bankruptcy attorneys or inexpensive community legal service by contacting a local state bar-certified lawyer referral service, state bar association or other attorney regulating government agency. As with many businesses, these services can also be found in a local phone directory, on the Internet or through a search at a local library. Even if a free one cannot be found, once a cheap bankruptcy attorney is located, many certified lawyers offer payment options that make professional services more accessible. A fee schedule can be negotiated whereby all fees associated with the process can be laid out, however, be certain to have an estimate of all legal costs associated with the process as well in order to determine whether they are affordable. By law, this estimate must be written if the fees will be $1000 or more. Keep in mind also that if the attorney's fees are not paid, he may drop the case and the contracted fees may still be owed.
Many other debt solutions exist that may avoid the need for bankruptcy altogether. If, however, it turns out to be the best option, a counseling service can set you up with the legally required pre-filing credit counseling that must be completed six months prior to filing. A person must also obtain a credit counseling certification and pass a "means" test before filing. Once these requirements have been met, a cheap bankruptcy lawyer or any of the other low cost services mentioned above can determine the correct course of legal action. Once again, since new laws make it more difficult for an individual without a legal background to file, any legal advice obtained can be beneficial, even from free bankruptcy attorneys. "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding." (Proverbs 3:13)
Bankruptcy Lawyer PriceChapter 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.