Finding the Right Lawyer

So, you’ve decided to file bankruptcy. What’s the first step? Finding adequate legal representation. There are many ways to find the best lawyer to fit your needs. Referrals from friends, local bar associations, practice organizations, attorney review websites, or even just good old Google. However, you should be careful when something appears to be too good to be true.

Many consumer bankruptcy attorneys will provide a free initial consultation, to help you determine whether or not a bankruptcy is warranted. These consultations will also help you gauge whether the attorney will be a good fit for your needs. Ideal qualities to look for lawyers who listen, are empathetic, but also able to provide clear, objective analysis and advice. No lawyer will be able to be available 24/7, but their office should be able to respond reasonably and should set expectations at the beginning, so you’re well-prepared and know what to expect.

Be sure to fully read any representation agreements and ask thorough questions at the beginning, so you fully understand the scope of the representation. You can also research the law office and attorney if they are on an online review website, such as Avvo. If you’re not careful about who you hire you may end up paying fees and waiting and waiting for results.

Recently the Department of Justice’s United States Trustee Program announced that they entered into a settlement with the bankruptcy law firm known as UpRight Law. UpRight has been sanctioned previously by Courts for its mishandling of client’s cases. In the cases cited by the USTP, one client’s case was delayed for almost a year, resulting in a creditor garnishing more than $6K of the client’s wages. The USTP allegations against USTP include

  • misrepresenting to clients the scope of legal services to be provided and the cost of those services,
  • failing to timely provide its clients with written retainer agreements that clearly and conspicuously explained the legal services to be provided and the cost of those services,
  • failing to discuss non-bankruptcy alternatives,
  • failing to adequately supervise the firm’s non-attorney staff (some of whom engaged in the unauthorized practice of law),
  • providing erroneous legal advice,
  • and failing to adequately supervise its Montana “partner” attorneys.

Under the Settlement UpRight mist refund over $300,000 in fees, pay a penalty and must refrain from providing bankruptcy services through July 2, 2024.

This firm’s misconduct is certainly an outlier, but consumers should rely on any resource available to ensure they are receiving the best representation. The best test is usually how comfortable you feel with the person during the initial consultation.

If you have questions about how to find the best bankruptcy attorney, or think you may qualify under our guidelines, please feel free to contact us. As a non-profit we unfortunately are not permitted to recommend specific lawyers if you don’t qualify for our services, but we are happy to offer free consultations on your debt relief options, and provide general guidance on finding the right lawyer.


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