We heard this proverb many times and it is still good when someone is filing for bankruptcy, “You get what you pay for.”
One can see hundreds of ads with cheap attorney production mills as well as from bankruptcy petition preparers on TV, online and otherwise in yellow pages (now getting defunct). If you go to the trustee’s meeting i.e. 341 meeting, and I had heard it many times the trustee yelling at these novice attorneys “Mr. you have to learn bankruptcy and take responsibility.” These newly licensed attorneys are not bad meaning or otherwise incompetent; they are just not fully trained. An interesting article is published in today’s Las Vegas Review Journal and by no mean we are insinuating any attorneys here or disrespecting anyone’s sensibilities. Please see the article:
Do you know what a lawyer has to do to be a “bankruptcy lawyer?” Nothing! Ten years ago, every general practice lawyer added bankruptcy to the list of things he or she did to make money. Then, in 2005, the bankruptcy laws changed when the United States Congress passed broad modifications to the bankruptcy laws. The new laws are complex, including the very complicated Means Test. Most of these attorneys only steer towards Chapter 13 because they tend to make more money by doing this. I have few of these clients coming to me and we prepared their Means Test, and we found them fully entitled to file Chapter 7 and get a subsequent discharge after that. Of course we do not charge too much, just reasonable but not too cheap that we have a circus outside our office. Our client can come and meet directly the attorney and can ask him questions without any intermediate channel or without any Chinese Wall. Of course, we believe in face-to-face contact and personal meetings.
Quite often I see these $693 ads or so, they are ridiculously low. After all, someone is compromising the quality of work. Also, lots of things which should have been included, are deliberately set aside to be added later on. Why so low? Because of the following reasons:
1. The attorney may be working from some dump truck location where he is not paying any rent, and not much of an overhead. Maybe he has an internet location only.
2. Attorney is sending his work to someone like a ghost attorney or paralegal to cut cost. These ghost attorneys have no insurance, never took any CLE and not even present in the jurisdiction. Same ways our large retailers send work to China where the minimum wages is probably 20 cents an hour.
3. Attorney has no malpractice insurance, workmen compensation and liability insurance, and probably not the latest software where he is cutting corners and saving money.
4. Attorney is only filing bare minimum with lots of exception to be filed separately or not completely disclosed to the client.
5. Attorney is not cautioning the client if anything goes wrong, or if he/she has to appear in front of the judge. And, one may know that Bankruptcy judges in Nevada takes their job very seriously and it is no pleasure to be lambasted in full view of other attorneys and clients by a judge.
6. Let us say, you see these guys on TV, how many of them you see in actual court. I go to court frequently; I myself barely see them other than on TV. You can imagine what would be their familiarity with judicial procedure, laws and other allied matters.
Conclusion: Please be careful of cheap attorneys because there is a strong likelihood, they can easily mess up your seemingly very simple case and changing it to a complex and protracted litigation. Now, you have major problem at your hand. If you want the best, expect to pay a little more. Trusting Google? That is funny. Read the attorney blog; know more about him/her. Google only give you most “optimized” attorney in the search engine categories.
Although not always true, the lawyers with the best reputation in bankruptcy court typically cost more than average. A little additional money can get you quality over quantity and now you are building a relationship which may be conducive for many other purposes. Good bankruptcy lawyers are at the top of their game, and they’re in high demand. No one can charge outrageous amount these days, but quality should not be compromised. After all, would you go to a cheap brain surgeon if you need brain surgery? Good quality attorneys meet their clients and give them preferential treatment, and in fact, talk directly to them instead a paralegal or legal assistant. The best often charge only a modest premium that is more than offset by the quality of their representation. So, what’s a smart consumer to do when locating an experienced bankruptcy lawyer? Spend some time researching lawyer credentials not on Google but going through their website and if they have blog reading all of it and ask educated questions. Don’t just trust Google to give you the best bankruptcy lawyer. Google’s just gives you the best “search engine optimized” lawyer – whether she’s great or lousy.