In the past, people would ask around to find a good attorney. Choosing a bankruptcy attorney that way was awkward, however, given that you might not want your friends and neighbors to know about the state of your finances. Why feed the neighborhood gossip mill? Today most people turn to the internet to find a bankruptcy attorney and the internet, while a good starting place, has its pitfalls as well. Certain sites provide attorney reviews, but the absence of a review does not speak to an attorney’s competence. Neither does the presence of many positive glowing reviews. Today, anyone can post a positive review, including an attorney’s staff, friends and family. So you should look at other factors as well, such as does the attorney have some years of experience? Is she a member of any organizations like her state bar associations or the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys which shows she is keeping up to date on the current issues in bankruptcy law? Does she practice in other areas of law or is she primarily a bankruptcy attorney? How many bankruptcy cases has she filed? Even that last question has to be dealt with cautiously because a high number of case filings could be an indicator that the bankruptcy attorney is really just a front for a “bankruptcy mill” where clients sign on for lower fees but then work with a paralegal or clerk to file the papers and then never even meet their lawyer until the first 341 meeting of creditors. What you need is a lawyer who answers her phone, takes time to answer your questions, and then that same lawyer prepares your petition and takes your case to court.
Most bankruptcy lawyers offer free consultations and you should take advantage of those to find an attorney that would be a good fit for you and give you personalized attention. It is also a good sign when that attorney asks you to prepare for that first meeting — usually by bringing some of your financial papers with you or by having you fill out a detailed questionnaire — so that she can really get a developed picture of your case and how she can help you. And finally, you want an attorney who is straight forward about her fees. A good lawyer explains all the charges up front.