Making Sense of Bankruptcy: How to Pay for Your Bankruptcy Lawyer
July 22, 2015
There are usually ways to pay for the legal representation you need for dealing with your debt problems. First find a lawyer you can trust.
Here’s the sentence that we’re explaining today:
Being able to afford the costs of filing bankruptcy involves 1) acknowledging that you need legal advice, 2) accepting the reality that you have a very serious financial situation 3) for which you need help fixing, 4) you must also acknowledge that most other people find a way to pay for their bankruptcies, 5) that the free initial consultation meeting is a crucial first step in finding out both your legal options and how to pay for them, 6) both of which will be unique to your situation, and 7) will reflect the trust that is essential to your lawyer-client relationship.
Getting Solid Advice about How to Treat Your Financial Trauma
A financial trauma is not all that different from a medical one. Both can be the result of years of unwise decisions, or can arise suddenly, or be a combination of both. A heart attack can be the result of a lifetime of insufficient exercise and unhealthy eating, and then be brought on by a particularly stressful day. Financial insolvency can be the result of a long period of insufficient income and overspending, but made inevitable by an illness or accident.
The analogy continues in how to deal with both kinds of traumas. You would of course never consider doing surgery on yourself or treating your own heart attack. In the same way don’t think that you can treat your financial trauma on your own. Trying to do so is almost always very unwise.
Fine, you may say, but then ask how you are supposed to pay for a bankruptcy lawyer if you can’t even afford to pay your creditors? Consider the following.
Accept Financial Reality
The first step is to be honest with yourself. If you’ve been dodging the truth of your financial situation, you can’t get anywhere without dealing with it head-on. Accept the practical truth that you have too much at stake to allow yourself to continue avoiding it. Your day-to-day peace of mind, your financial life-goals, the well-being of those who depend on you—all of these are in jeopardy if you don’t find a way—the best way—to resolve your financial dilemma.
Accept the Need for Help
Back to our analogy to medical trauma, with a financial trauma it is virtually impossible to understand on your own the various legal options and how each would work in your financial situation. So you must accept that you need help in making all the right decisions, preparing the required paperwork, dealing with your creditors, and working the bankruptcy system (if a bankruptcy option is indeed the best for you).
Most of the Time There IS a Way
Most people who file bankruptcy do so while being represented by a lawyer. Commonsensically, that means that if most of the million or so people who file bankruptcy each year manage to pay for their attorney, there must be ways to do so, ways that may well apply to you as well.
A Free Consultation Meeting is a Real Service
Reputable bankruptcy lawyers provide a free initial consultation meeting with new clients for various reasons, some self-serving, but it is a valuable service. These lawyers are willing to provide at least the beginning of the tangible advice you need in return for the intangible possibility that you will chose them to represent you. They help you break the vicious cycle in which you don’t really know which way to turn and don’t know how to pay for it.
You are always in charge. Your lawyer does not tell you what to do, but rather provides you advice about your options. Even if you have not paid him or her anything, the lawyer is ethically obligated to serve you with accurate information and advice about what’s best for you. After your initial consultation meeting you have no financial obligation to the lawyer unless and until you agree to have him or her work further on your behalf.
How to Pay for the Bankruptcy is Part of Your Unique Solution
In that free initial meeting, you get advice and guidance unique to your situation about your options. Then you usually also learn how you would be able to afford to pursue your various options, which may well also be unique to your situation. It is part of your lawyer’s job to help you figure out both a practical and legally appropriate way to pay for the costs of filing bankruptcy.
If bankruptcy is the right solution for you, then just as your financial situation is unique, your lawyer will help you determine a way to pay for it in a way that works for you.
Trust Your Attorney for Good Advice, Including about How to Pay for It
Your relationship with your lawyer is very much about trust. You are putting your financial life—past, present, and future—into the hands of your lawyer. One of the purposes of your initial consultation meeting is for you to see whether you can have a relationship of trust with him or her. If in that first meeting you don’t quickly feel the right chemistry, confidence in his or her competence and understanding, and at least the potential for mutual trust, don’t continue with that lawyer but rather find one with whom you do you feel those attributes.
And when you find the lawyer that feel that you can trust with your financial life, you will also be able to trust him or her to give you good advice about how to pay to get that financial life heading in the right direction.