Tips When Selecting a Bankruptcy Attorney
How much experience does the attorney have in bankruptcy court?
Bankruptcy is a very specialized area of law. It is difficult to practice bankruptcy law well without staying current with the voluminous new developments in the law. In October 2005, the bankruptcy code was amended by Congress which changed almost 40 percent of the prior laws.
Unfortunately, people often hire an attorney who has little or no experience in bankruptcy. Similar to medicine, a specialist is called for when a unique problem arises–bankruptcy is a unique area of the law.
Mr. Berken has been practicing bankruptcy law since 1984. Mr. Berken has nineteen published opinions--several in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He speaks at several attorney seminars each year, and sponsors his own–"Bankruptcy Practice--Down and Dirty"–since 2004. Mr. Berken instructs other attorneys on the area of bankruptcy law.
Do not Chose an Attorney based on price.
Everyone likes a “good deal.” It is tempting to shop around for the cheapest service you can find. But the maxim: “you get what you pay for” is no less applicable to bankruptcy practice. Don’t let price be the determining factor when hiring an attorney.
A competent attorney may end of saving you thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. Looking for a cheap attorney is like dining at a discount sushi restaurant–if the fish is that cheap, you don’t want to buy it.
Ask the hard questions.
When meeting with an attorney, be prepared to interview him as you would a new employee. What are his or her qualifications, how many cases has he filed, what is his percentage of confirmation orders in Chapter 13s, how often are his clients sued for fraud, how often does the United States trustee’s office dismiss his ineligible clients?
Does the attorney litigate often in bankruptcy court? Does he know where the court is located? Who are the best trustees for debtors–who are not the best? What decisions have the judges published which may influence your case?
- What is the attorney’s reputation among his peers? Is he asked to speak frequently to other attorneys at seminars?
- How much of your practice is devoted to representing debtors? The answer to this question should be 100% or close to it.
- Are you a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys?
- Have you ever appealed a case to a higher court? What happened? Did you argue to an appellate judge who was geniunely interested in the issues, or gave you the "bum's rush?"
- How many trials have you had? How many debtors have you represented since you started practicing?