How to Choose an Experienced Colorado Bankruptcy Lawyer
October 4, 2010
By: David M. Serafin
In the Denver metro area and most areas nationwide, there are numerous bankruptcy lawyers who seemingly focus more upon price than upon personal service, knowledge and experience. For instance, if you Google the term “Denver Bankruptcy Lawyer” or “Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney” you’ll find a handful of lawyers who claim to handle these matters for less than $500.
I personally cannot attest to the quality of work of some of these lawyers but, on countless occasions, I’ve had clients come in and express their dissatisfaction with the quality of the work done at these “bankruptcy mill” practices which mass produce bankruptcy filings. Many of these cases are referred to an inexperienced and new associate and, after the 341 Meeting of Creditors, there often is nobody available or willing to answer any follow up questions about any remaining issues in the case. Often, we need to re-examine the schedules and re-file the case (and start over) because the previous case was dismissed for lack of compliance with the Bankruptcy Code.
If you are contemplating bankruptcy, every dollar obviously counts. So, wouldn’t it make sense to hire the cheapest lawyer? Probably not.
In a typical bankruptcy matter, the amount of the debt eliminated is several times the cost of our services. Additionally, one mistake made could cost you thousands of dollars if you’re forced to surrender property you previously thought you could keep.
I recently was retained by a two different clients in the past month who were provided with incorrect legal advice, the implementation of which in bankruptcy would have caused disaster. For instance, we were able to significantly lower a client’s chapter 13 plan payment after discovering that her disposable income included a bonus received just over six months prior to filing (the Means Test only factors income earned within six months prior to filing, not income earned prior to this time).
In another case, my client was previously advised to surrender an otherwise affordable house (with equity) which would have dramatically increased my client’s disposable income paid into a chapter 13 Plan. (Would you rather pay down a mortgage with a given sum of fixed income each month or surrender these same funds to the bankruptcy trustee?)