Have you noticed that most lawyer advertising is the same? Every bankruptcy lawyer brags about being the best, the toughest, the most aggressive. We all know they are just making it up.
Cheap Bankruptcy Attorneys are a Dime a Dozen
Lately I have seen there are a lot of lawyers bragging about being the cheapest. Search on Google for a mesa bankruptcy lawyer and you will see “Cheap Bankruptcy Lawyer,” “Cheapest Bankruptcy Attorney,” “Low Fee Bankruptcy Lawyer.” Any day now someone will claim to be the “Cheapest of the Cheap.” Are they really?
We all know that cheap and good don’t go together. If we buy a cheap used car we know it will cost us. We will pay a price with high repair and maintenance costs. When we go to a fast food restaurant we pay for convenience, not quality. If we eat too much of it the medical bills will more than wipe the savings.
Those aren’t surprises. We expect it and decide knowing what will happen. When it comes to hiring a lawyer I don’t believe many people decide knowing the risks.
Hidden Cost of Low Cost Bankruptcy Lawyer
A lot of my clients have visited other lawyers before coming to see me. Most of the times they have gotten good advice. There are a lot of good choices for finding a lawyer. These clients are smart and just want another opinion before making a big decision. That is not always the case.
Recently a small business owner came to discuss filing a bankruptcy. The economy over the last few years has been brutal. Although he had already hired another attorney his gut told him something was wrong. He was advised to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and was about ready to take that advice.
I reviewed his situation and recommended filing a Chapter 13 case instead. Compared to the Chapter 7 case he was about to file, the Chapter 13 will eliminate over $50,000.00 in additional debt. He can keep his business and other valuable personal property –things he would have lost had he filed the Chapter 7 case recommended by the “cheap” lawyer. In Chapter 13 his monthly “out go” will be less. The discount lawyer would have saved him about $1,500 in legal fees and he would not have realized how much better his situation could have been by spending a little more.
Discount Bankruptcy Cost Way Too Much
Another situation is even sadder. A gentleman filed a Chapter 7 case with one lawyer that claims to be one of the “cheapests” and bragged about it on their TV ads. He was told his case was straightforward and there was nothing to worry about. He owned a life insurance policy with some cash value and an annuity. If you look at any summary of the property protected in a Chapter 7 case you will see that cash value in a life insurance policy and annuities are protected. But, if you read the actual law you would see that not all insurance policies and annuities qualify for the protection. Apparently the cheap lawyer had not read the statutes. This gentleman lost over $40,000 in assets that could have been protected with some proactive planning. Well, he saved about $1,000 in legal fees but lost $40,000 because he did not know how risky hiring a cheap lawyer could be.
Low Fee Bankruptcy Unnecessary
As sad as those situations are, a far more common problem is when the discount lawyer is recommending a bankruptcy when it is unnecessary.
Recently a man came to visit me about filing bankruptcy because a collection lawyer was threatening to sue him for over $200,000. Both of the previous lawyers he met with recommended filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A co-worker recommended he talk before deciding. He is glad he did. During our first visit it was clear he had a great defense to the lawsuit, if one was ever filed. It was and the Court dismissed it on my request. Then, we sued the collection law firm for violating the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act. The lawsuit was settled long before trial for a substantial amount (I can’t give you the details because the settlement agreement requires we keep it a secret). Not only did my client avoid the costs and problems of an unnecessary bankruptcy, but he received a substantial settlement, too.
Quality Legal Help Pays
Not everyone with a debt problem must file bankruptcy. But, the cheap lawyers must file a lot of cases to pay for their expensive advertisements. The good lawyers will give you honest advice and search for the best solution for your problem even when it means you won’t be hiring them. I can list example after example of situations where the cheap legal advice cost many times more than the savings in legal fees.
Money is tight when considering bankruptcy. If you are tempted to find the lowest cost bankruptcy lawyer consider the risks. I am convinced that
paying a little more in legal fees will be a much better deal and far less expensive in the long run.