By Christopher C. Carr, Esq., Suburban Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer
(Now gee why did he pick that letter to start with?)
The “C” in the bankruptcy alphabet ought, in my opinion, to actually stand for two interwoven concepts: attorney COMPASSION and COMPETENCE. Let’s talk about the second word COMPETENCE first: In this free fall economy, too many fly by night attorneys who have never done bankruptcy work before and non-lawyer “preparers” are emerging from the woodwork. We see them offering to do a “cut rate” Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for $700. Well, if you as a consumer are tempted by this you had better check the fine print to see what that payment really covers. It is very likely that you will be very unpleasantly surprised when you find yourself paying extra for things that better lawyers include for no extra charge.
Bankruptcy is tough hard work that requires a lot of different skills. You have to understand the law first and foremost and not just the law of bankruptcy but a whole host of state laws since bankruptcy law while federal gives the nod to state law in so many areas; you have to have common sense and a good head for math and you must be reasonably detail oriented. But that’s really just the basic skill complement. The best practitioners add to this a level of creativity and insight that can mean thousands of dollars saved for you.
In addition, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for in bankruptcy as well as the rest of life. Consider also that the average lawyer bills at around $200 per hour. At $700, that means he or she will be spending a grand total of 3 and a half hours on your file including the intake meeting, assembling your documents; preparing and reviewing your petition and then attending the 341 hearing. In perhaps all but the very simplest “no asset” case that is not enough time to do a competent job.
Most consumers and even unfortunately most non bankruptcy lawyers think that we bankruptcy practitioners are just a bunch of pencil pushers who fill in simple forms like it was your 1040 EZ or something. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. I myself have been practicing a very sophisticated type of business law (Computer Law) for 20 years or more and have an MBA in Finance from one of the finer business schools in the US. Yet I am constantly studying and keeping up on the changes in the bankruptcy law and practice so I can do the finest job possible for my clients.
Let’s talk about the other C word….COMPASSION. What does that word mean and why is it important? Well according to Webster’s it refers to a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” FINANCIAL DISTRESS is one of the great banes of our existence and it also causes or contributes to a good deal of the physical ailments facing our society as stress causes our bodily systems to break down. Actually, I cannot think of a better way to describe the emotional makeup of a good consumer bankruptcy advocate.
COMPASSION is an important attribute because even the finest technically learned lawyer cannot represent you properly unless he/she understands your situation in detail and most importantly is aware of your GOALS. It is not enough to know that you will obtain a discharge in bankruptcy. Most everybody who starts a Chapter 7 obtains that. The attorney should ask about important things like “where do you expect to be 5 years from now” and how will the “fresh start” you achieve in your case assist you to get there.
What I am saying is that when you hire bankruptcy counsel it does not really matter whether the surroundings in which he/she practices are grand or humble or how many gilt edged diplomas hang on the wall. What you really need to feel is that this person will be a trusted and highly skilled member of your financial advisory team. That is, you need to feel a connection with or rapport with this practitioner as well as believing that he or she is competent to represent you. If on the other hand, all you come away with is that he or she is just in it for the money then move on to someone you feel will really go to bat for you!
©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law, 2011, All Rights Reserved
If you live in the Suburban Philadelphia area, including the counties of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, or Montgomery, and are seeking a competent and compassionate bankruptcy lawyer to help you explore your options and find the optimum solution, please call Attorney Christopher C. Carr, MBA (Finance) at 610-380-7969 (Offices in Paoli and Coatesville) for a FREE DEBT RELIEF EVALUATION. Or visit my web site at westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org and fill out the contact sheet.
Other Attorneys playing the bankruptcy letter “C” game:
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