I was enjoying my lunch outside yesterday and thumbing through our local “alternative” magazine Westword and was amazed by the number of bankruptcy attorney advertisements, especially the number of attorneys who were offering to file your bankruptcy for $500. There were a lot of them. I know some of the firms that were advertising. The fact is, they are very busy. But I’ve also looked at the cases they’ve filed, and I have yet to find one where they actually charged their client $500.
It shouldn’t surprise you that bankruptcy attorneys know what other lawyers charge. In Colorado, attorneys have to file a disclosure of compensation, so it’s easy to find out. You can see for yourself if you get a PACER account. The fact is, very few cases get filed where the attorney charges only $500. If you can find someone who actually charges $500, here are some reasons why you might want to hire him:
- You’d rather work with a paralegal instead of an attorney. One of ways that these attorneys can offer such low fees is the sheer volume they manage. That means that the first time you actually meet your attorney might not be until your meeting of creditors, which is probably the first time he’ll look at your file and know anything about your financial situation. I’m always stunned when I watch attorneys introduce themselves to their “clients” for the first time at the creditors meeting.
- You’d rather work with an attorney who is just getting started or also practices in another area of the law. Another way attorneys can offer such a low is when they’re new and try to build a client base or think they can pick up a few easy bucks by taking on the occasional bankruptcy client. That’s fine, of course, but bankruptcy isn’t where you want someone with little experience.
- You’d rather file Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Some attorneys will persuade their clients to file Chapter 13, which requires repayment to creditors, instead of Chapter 7, which doesn’t require repayment, because Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to pay your attorney fees over the course of three to five years. Your bankruptcy should benefit you, not your lawyer.
I could offer advice, like “you get what you pay for” and, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is,” but I won’t. You should at least talk to these $500 bankruptcy attorneys. You owe yourself at least that. You might find one that actually charges that amount, but if he says that that fee is only for people in “special circumstances” ask yourself, “If he’s not being up front about what he charges, what else do I have to worry about?” Wouldn’t you rather hire someone who charges you more, gives you the benefit of his experience and time, and doesn’t try to mislead you about his fees?
If you’re looking for an experienced bankruptcy attorney, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation. We won’t promise you we’re the cheapest. We can only promise you that we’ll be with you every step of the way, from the time you retain us until the court closes your case and your bankruptcy is final. Our clients have our lawyers’ cell phone numbers, and they can reach them whenever they have a question or need help.
You can schedule an appointment online or call 303.331.3403 to set up a time that is convenient for you.