Let’s start with this: most bankruptcy attorneys are basically honest, and want to do a good job. Naturally, some are more experienced and competent than others; but that is true in any field, whether you are going into the hospital for surgery, or are taking your car in for repair (which in some cases can be more nerve-wracking and stressful than surgery!).
However — and again, just like in any field — there is a tiny minority of bad apples that should be kicked out of the profession (and eventually, most of them will be one way or another). To help you steer clear of these shady bankruptcy attorneys, here are four red flags to watch for:
- You’re not getting clear information and instructions.
- Your bankruptcy attorney is MIA.
- You’re getting unethical advice.
- Your bankruptcy attorney is simply incompetent.
One of the most important things that you need from your bankruptcy attorney — if not THE most important thing — is clarity when it comes to information and instructions. Specifically, you need to know what documents you need to gather, and how the process unfolds from beginning to end. You should also feel empowered to ask questions at any time.
Good bankruptcy attorneys are busy — just like good doctors are busy, and good car mechanics are busy. But they should never be too busy to properly file all required documents on your behalf, show up (on time) for all meetings, and inform you of any significant changes or developments in your case. In other words: your bankruptcy attorney must never forget that he or she works for YOU, and not the other way around!
Like all other lawyers, bankruptcy attorneys are required to act in an ethical manner, and this certainly includes the counsel that they provide you. As such, if you are getting advice that you know is crossing the line, then it is time to head for the exit — and then to the state Bar Association to share your concerns.
Some bankruptcy attorneys are not necessarily unethical or unprincipled, but they are nevertheless incompetent — which means they are putting your financial future at severe risk. For example, they may not know how to challenge false credit claims, they may not be aware of current bankruptcy law (which is always changing and varies from state to state), they may not use exemptions to protect your assets, and so on. The best way to confirm that you’re working with a competent bankruptcy attorney is by ensuring that they have been in professional practices for at least a decade, and that they are listed in Good Standing in their respective state’s Bar Association (this is searchable online).
At the Law Office of Charles H. Huber, for more than 30 years we have taken pride in treating each and every client with the utmost in professionalism and ethics. We respond promptly to all emails and calls, and provide leadership and support every step of the way. To learn more, contact us today.