If you've never been on Craigslist.com, I’d recommend it. The online classified site is home to listings for things that are for sale or rent, job openings, discussion forums and advertisements for business, even attorney offices. Browsing through the listings is often entertaining, sometimes informative and always a great way to waste time.
I recently ran across an ad for a bankruptcy attorney in Michigan that was very clever and it had a great message. The headline of the ad said “We Fix $899 Bankruptcies!” It went on to explain that not all bankruptcy attorneys are created equal and if an attorney is willing to charge $899 ($335 of which will be court filing fees) for every single case you may not get the best service. The ad stressed that there is more to consider than just the price that the attorney will charge to file your bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, I’ve talked to many people over the years that have regretted their original choice of bankruptcy attorney. Oftentimes, the choice of attorney was chosen purely based on the fact that the client thought he or she would get a cheap bankruptcy. There are a few complaints that I’ve heard over and over again. Based on that experience, here are some things to avoid when looking for a bankruptcy attorney:
- The one-size-fits-all attorney – This is the attorney that will tell you how much he will charge you for filing a bankruptcy without knowing anything about your situation. Something is wrong here. Each bankruptcy case takes a different amount of work to successfully complete and different types of bankruptcy involve different amounts of work, which should result in different fees if done properly.
- The awkward consultation – This is the attorney that you don’t feel real comfortable with from the start, but you don’t bother to consult with another attorney, because you think that we are all the same. He might make you feel dumb, make you feel like a bad person or just not want to answer your questions.
- The fly-by-night attorney – He will meet you in the Pizza Hut, he will meet you at the library or he will meet you at the dry cleaners. If you’re lucky, he might offer to meet with you in his home office so his cat can walk back and forth across his desk the entire time you talk and aggravate your allergies (true story).
- The disappearing attorney – He seemed nice enough at the consultation, but you have some additional questions, so you call his office. You’d be ok waiting a day or two for a call back, but two weeks? That’s getting a little unreasonable. It is also a little sketchy that he still has an old-school answering machine taking his messages.
While I am obviously trying to inject some humor here, the message is serious. You need to find an attorney that makes you feel comfortable, is willing to sit down with you, review your situation, make recommendations tailored to your situation, answer your questions (before and after the consultation), and has a good reputation. That is exactly what we strive to do here at Steidl & Steinberg.
When you call the office, you will get to speak to an attorney who will get an overview of your situation and then schedule a time for you to come in for a free consultation. At the consultation, the attorney will review your situation in detail, tell you what type of bankruptcy would work best for you, explain how bankruptcy works and tell you how much it will cost to file. You will leave the consultation with enough information to think over your options and make a decision, but if you think of more questions after the consultation, we are always here to answer them.
We get phone calls all the time from people who just want us to quote them a price for a bankruptcy filing without us knowing anything about their situation. Ken Steidl has a great analogy that he uses in this situation. You can’t call up a car dealership and demand to know how much they charge for a car. Do you want a new or used car? What make? What model? What options? It is just as unreasonable to call a bankruptcy attorney and ask how much it costs to file for bankruptcy.
Don’t sell yourself short by picking a bankruptcy attorney purely based on price. Even the cheapest bankruptcy can be a waste of money if not done properly. Give Steidl & Steinberg a call instead. We take the time to meet with you, evaluate your situation and we will charge you a fair and reasonable price to resolve your debt problems.