Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney: Qualifications, Experience and Local Knowledge Matter.
When it comes to choosing an attorney to represent you in a bankruptcy proceeding, what factors should you consider? That is a good question when you consider how important this step can be to your financial future. With more than 20,000 attorneys practicing in the state of North Carolina, many of whom have assisted in a bankruptcy filing in the last year, the task of choosing an attorney who is right for you and your situation can be daunting.
Here are three (3) important points to consider as you make your decision:
- Qualifications- Any attorney licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina is technically qualified to handle a bankruptcy filing. However, the North Carolina Bar recognizes certain attorneys that have passed a rigorous exam process with a special designation: Board Certified in Consumer and Business Bankruptcy Law. These attorneys put in roughly 400 hours for four years before becoming certified. Following certification, they spend a large percentage of their time working solely bankruptcy cases. They are also required to complete continuing legal education credits centered on consumer bankruptcy. Consider this additional qualification as you weigh your options.
- Experience- Being qualified to represent a client in a bankruptcy filing is one thing, but having the extensive experience that is gained from years of singular focus on bankruptcy law and thousands of filings is quite another. Consider not only how long your attorney has practiced bankruptcy law in the state of North Carolina but the number of filings and the overall focus of their practice. When it comes to bankruptcy representation, you want to err on the side of experience.
- Local Knowledge- Bankruptcy procedures and local rules may vary from area to area. Determine where you will be filing bankruptcy and then consider the importance of selecting an attorney with local knowledge of the bankruptcy courts in your area. Consider an attorney who has deep or even exclusive experience practicing bankruptcy law in your community, as they are likely to be familiar with the local procedures, Court system, Court personnel and even local Trustees. You’ll want this local knowledge to work for you.
With so many advertisements for bankruptcy services, it is hard to know where to turn for representation. Through understanding the role of qualifications, experience and local knowledge you’ll be headed in the right direction.