Credentials of a Good Bankruptcy Attorney
So you have decided to take the step of applying for bankruptcy. You have made the right decision. Now comes the task of appointing a bankruptcy attorney that is most suitable for you. It is important to make the correct choice. There are two important characteristics that you should look for in hiring a bankruptcy attorney. They are competence and experience.
How can you tell whether an attorney is competent? Basic work ethics such as punctuality and a thorough familiarity with the Bankruptcy Code is a must. But competence is also shown in other ways; for example:
• A competent attorney will tell you what documents to bring with you for your initial consultation. He needs to know about your assets and liabilities. These are shown in official documents like agreements, statements and liens which you need to furnish him.
• He would also require you to fill up a questionnaire right at the beginning of the consultation process so that he can obtain all the relevant information that he needs.
• His office would keep in touch with you regularly to keep you informed of the progress of your case. The attorney should inform you of all developments in your case as it happens, like a motion filed by a creditor and remind you in advance of important dates you need to keep such as court appointments.
• A competent attorney would be personally in charge of the drafting of the bankruptcy petition. This should not be left to a junior member of his staff like a paralegal. The petition should be done or at least supervised by the attorney himself before it is sent for filing.
• In addition, a competent attorney would personally go through every page of the petition with you before it is filed. If these important tasks are delegated, it shows possible incompetence on the part of the attorney.
On the other hand, experience is shown by the number of bankruptcy cases the attorney files each year, how many discharges he has obtained and the number of Chapter 13 cases he has had confirmed.
Another indication of experience is the attorney’s association with other bankruptcy attorneys. If the attorney is a member of the state or national bankruptcy association, this indicates that he is knowledgeable and keeps abreast with developments because bankruptcy associations inform their members of the latest news and provide training for them. Furthermore, the attorney would be in touch with other attorneys and constantly be on the cutting edge of this area of legal practice.
These two ingredients of competence and experience are the credentials you should look for in any bankruptcy attorney you hire.