Do I Even Need an Attorney?
Can’t I Do This Myself or Use the Internet?
There is no requirement that you hire an attorney to file bankruptcy. It is also not a requirement to have a physician set a broken bone or sew up a severed artery. But, you know it is not a good idea. As such, it almost never makes sense to attempt it yourself.
The legal system itself is tricky and bankruptcy laws are very specialized. Representing yourself or relying upon an internet outfit to prepare forms and legal documents for you is asking for big trouble. That trouble can mean losing things you want to keep, running afoul of rules and statues and possible additional fees and costs. And if you mess it up and the case is dismissed, that can impact your ability to properly file in the future.
Just checkout what the government itself says about filing bankruptcy yourself:
Among the interesting points that webpage makes, it concludes that “bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences [and] hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.”
Hiring the Right Attorney for You
Now that you know you need a bankruptcy attorney, how to you decide whom to choose? Don’t all lawyers file bankruptcies? Isn’t it simple? No and no. Bankruptcy Courts are separate courts in the federal system and you have to be a member of that court to represent folks filing for bankruptcy. That is because there are special rules and laws that apply to bankruptcies that are different from other areas of law.
- Ask friends, relatives, or other people you respect if they know of a good bankruptcy or debt attorney.
- Chose an attorney that focuses on bankruptcy.
- Find out how long they have been practicing.
- Are they recognized in the field of bankruptcy law?
- Do they belong to legal groups about bankruptcy law?
- Choose someone you feel comfortable with when you meet them. Any attorney should treat you with respect and courtesy.
- Look for someone licensed in Virginia and who has an actual real office near where you live. MAKE SURE YOU ARE MEETING WITH AN ATTORNEY OR FIRM THAT WILL COME TO COURT WITH YOU AND BE BY YOUR SIDE! Some out-of-state or Northern Virginia firms are trying to get folks to hire them over the internet and then “farm out” or send someone else to your hearings because they don’t want to drive to Western Virginia for a bankruptcy hearing. We don’t think that is right.
The vast majority of attorneys practicing in this area offer free consultations. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t hire that attorney. Know what you will pay and what services you will get in return. Always have a written fee agreement with the lawyer that details what is covered. Does the fee quote include the bankruptcy court filing fees? Are there other filing fees? What about fees for your mandatory credit counseling and debtor education courses? Ask questions. While most attorneys cannot answer all your legal questions in an initial consultation, they should be able to explain the process, the cost, the risks and the benefits to you. If they cannot, you are talking to the wrong person.
So, Why Giles & Lambert?
We focus only on bankruptcy and in the past 20 years have helped thousands of folks in the Roanoke Valley, New River Valley and Southside Virginia get out of debt. We are local, experienced and we care about our clients and will work hard for you. We only represent folks filing for bankruptcy – never creditors!
We know that making the decision to even come see us hurts. You may feel queasy, your palms may sweat and sitting in front of someone trying to explain why you got there is the last thing in the world you want to do. We get it. We are not here to judge. We are here to help.
We have the experience to look at your personal situation and advise you on options. Sometimes we will advise you to NOT file bankruptcy, and can suggest other avenues to resolve your issues. But if bankruptcy is the solution, we will explain the different types, the procedures and let you know what to expect every step of the way.
Our attorneys are members of various bankruptcy related law groups and Malissa Giles is a regular speaker at legal programs teaching other attorneys about changes in bankruptcy laws. Tracy and Malissa have been recognized for years as Super Lawyers in the bankruptcy area and the firm is ranked at a Tier 1 (that the best!) Bankruptcy Law Firm by US New and World Reports. No other consumer debtor bankruptcy law firm in the Roanoke area has the number of teaching hours and awards as we do.
So, what does that mean to you? It means we are really, really good at our jobs. We care about clients and when we combine that expertise along with a dedicated and caring staff, you get great attorneys to help guide you through the process to a fresh financial start.