If you need legal advice concerning financial problems and specifically with possibly filing bankruptcy, you naturally want to get it done as cheap (and as good) as possible. In the world of Amazon, Facebook, and Google, many of us spend a lot of time doing research to find the best possible answers online, educate ourselves on the pros and cons of different possible solutions and then seek out the least expensive way to proceed. And, if you are under financial duress, you are doing this in rapid-fire and under a lot of pressure.
I’m a rabid online researcher for everything I need to buy or just to become more educated about a topic. Frustratingly, the Internet has become so spammy and overwhelmed by marketing garbage. It’s hard to find truly informative and honest websites and articles that reach the level of depth necessary to make a truly informed decision. This is a difficult endeavor, to sort out reality and truth from marketing hype and false promises.
How to find the best bankruptcy attorney for you in Omaha or anywhere in Nebraska?
5 Factors That are Relevant in Selecting a Bankruptcy Attorney
1. Read the firm’s website for content, experience, and depth of knowledge
This is your best source of online information. Are the articles addressing real issues and are they detailed enough to get to the substance of a matter? Spend the time to read a lot of material. Reach out and send in requests for more information if you need it. A good firm law firm will happily answer your questions and will respond VERY quickly, usually within hours.
2. Is the bankruptcy attorney (or firm) really located in Nebraska?
If not, BEWARE! There are several companies that offer “bankruptcy services” from their “team of expert bankruptcy attorneys” that are located outside of Nebraska. (For Iowa, John Turco Law also serves and has licensed attorneys in Council Bluffs and surrounding areas). In fact, searching Google for “cheap bankruptcy attorney in Omaha” will, in fact, result in several hits for companies that are essentially lead-generation businesses that then try and sell your personal information to local attorneys, some of which may not dedicate their practice and passion to bankruptcy law. Or, they do the work at their main facility and then hire a local attorney to do minimal work in Nebraska (just sign the documents and file). Check out where the lead-generation “bankruptcy services” company is primarily PHYSICALLY located. Is it in Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City? Not good! I’d steer far and clear from anyone that doesn’t have a physical office in the state of Nebraska.
Finally, don’t take the bait that “we have local attorneys in your location” to represent you. That technically may be true (that they’ll sporadically contract-hire a local attorney for minimal work and to sign their name on the documents), but it’s not what you think it is. And, what is ultimately shocking is that these lead-generation businesses are ultimately MORE EXPENSIVE. I’ve seen it repeatedly. Local attorneys know the lay of the land. They know the critical people, systems, policies, and customs for bankruptcy cases filed in Nebraska and our river-city neighbor, Council Bluffs. Each state and district have different rules and unwritten customs, even though the bankruptcy laws are federal. In short, what works in one area of the country may not work here and that could spell disaster.
3. The more questions and documentation that the law firm requests to prepare a bankruptcy, the better!
Federal Bankruptcy law requires a lot of “due diligence.” In short, your bankruptcy attorney and his or her staff needs to know all the relevant facts and needs to have confidence in the facts that are listed on the bankruptcy forms. Those forms are signed under oath, with penalty of perjury. For example, a bankruptcy attorney should ask you for six (6) months of all bank statements (including PayPal, Venmo, etc.), tax returns, and paystubs. During the entire bankruptcy process, you should have constant contact with the firm’s staff (especially during the preparation stage), and they should be asking you for clarification on multiple questions. If they don’t, do not trust the work product blindly. Even the little details matter with bankruptcy documents and the bankruptcies filed in Nebraska are highly scrutinized by multiple officials. Finally, you should, ideally, receive a draft copy of your bankruptcy documents BEFORE you meet with the attorney for the final time to sign the same. With Covid-19 now everywhere, most attorneys are using electronic signatures and telephonic appointments. Thus, receiving a draft of your bankruptcy is highly recommended.
4. Talk to more than one Omaha bankruptcy attorney
Ask difficult questions and for the attorney to explain their answers during the consultation or in follow emails, etc. In the law, the honest answer is frequently complicated, and the attorney should explain why the outcome could vary and the reasons for what may or may not happen in a case. You should fully understand what the issues are and how they may affect your case. You need to feel comfortable and have a good sense that you are getting the whole picture. Ignorance is not a happy place to be when you file for bankruptcy. If an attorney is offended that you want a second opinion, run away as fast as you can.
5. Don’t get suckered for an advertisement for a “cheap bankruptcy attorney”
Unless a firm has outside funding from a charity or federal funding (like Legal Aid), it is very difficult to get “cheap” and “good.” Think about it: Who is doing all the important legal analysis, due-diligence work, scanning documents, auditing bank statements and pay stubs, preparing the bankruptcy petition, going over numerous questions and documents with the client, communicating with creditors, creditor’s attorney, Bankruptcy Court personnel and Trustees, going to hearings and having time available for current and existing client needs for “cheap” all the time? That’s a big list and it’s not all that needs to get done in a case. May I suggest that over the long haul, some of those tasks/requirements are not getting done properly and/or sufficiently…..resulting in potentially very harmful results?
Like everything that is important in life, cutting corners usually ends poorly. In fact, doing things the right way from the beginning is the LEAST EXPENSIVE option. Do your research and choose what is best for you. John T. Turco & Associates, PC, LLO provides bankruptcy legal services throughout Nebraska and in SouthWestern Iowa. Attorneys licensed in both states. Get honest and fast answers. Contact us today.