You need one. Bankruptcy law is complex. As I said, it's not easy keeping up. While it is perfectly legal for you to represent yourself, it would probably be one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make. The Bankruptcy Court has created a special guide for pro se (Latin meaning “for oneself") filers, which you can read by visiting http://www.gasb.uscourts.gov (Related Sites/Bankruptcy Basics) or http://www.scb.uscourts.gov/ (Parties Without an Attorney). These sites also contain links to lawyer referral services and to other resources for consumers thinking about bankruptcy.
Consumers seeking free advice can visit the American Bankruptcy Institute's online pro bono resource locator at probono.abiworld.org.
Another way to find a competent bankruptcy attorney is through the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), an organization of which I have been a long-standing member. Click on the Attorney Finder link and follow the instructions to locate a qualified bankruptcy attorney near you.
There are no set legal fees for bankruptcy. Subject to bankruptcy court approval, bankruptcy lawyers can charge whatever they want. You can expect legal fees for a Chapter 7 case to be in the range of $750 to $2,500, and fees for a Chapter 13 to be $3,000 or more in some cases, especially if the case involves a business or is otherwise complicated. If you hire a lawyer to rescue a case that you tried to file yourself, you should expect to pay more. Likewise, if you retain a lawyer shortly before a scheduled foreclosure sale, you should expect the fees to be higher because your lawyer will have to drop other work in order to focus on your emergency. As is often the case, it pays to plan ahead!
Some lawyers may require you to pay the legal fees for a Chapter 7 case in full prior to filing.
On the other hand, many lawyers will let you pay all or a portion of their legal fees for a Chapter 13 case through your plan along with your other debts. In other words, a portion of your monthly plan payments will be paid to your lawyer.
American Bankruptcy Institute
National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy
USC Title 11 -Bankruptcy
Personal Bankruptcy Information
Bankruptcy Law Network
Start Fresh Today, Inc
Life After Bankruptcy
Why Pick Me?
I was awarded my undergraduate degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and my law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. During law school, I was a member of the Law Review and have two published notes.
I opened my office in Augusta in 1979, and have been doing only bankruptcy cases since the mid-80's. You would think that an attorney who has been practicing for 40 years should know more than an attorney with only 10 years experience, but this is not always the case. There are some attorneys who have practiced bankruptcy law for many years, but have never really mastered the subject. There are other attorneys who have pursued a general practice, filing a bankruptcy case now and then.
Bankruptcy 101: An Intro
Bankruptcy is a federal law, administered by the United States Bankruptcy Courts which are technically a part of the United States District Courts. Bankruptcy law is complex and, therefore, I think, a speciality. The following is an explanation of personal bankruptcy in a tiny nutshell:
- Basic Information – A really quick overview of bankruptcy.
- Fees – How much bankruptcy costs.
- Lawyers – Whether you need a lawyer and the cost of a lawyer.
- Chapter 7 – Information about Chapter 7 “Liquidations".
- Chapter 13 – Information about Chapter 13 repayment plans.
- Things You Must Not Do – a compilation of no-no's for people thinking about filing bankruptcy.
- I've Heard That… Bankruptcy Myths.