Most bankruptcy attorneys in Phoenix offer free consultations but the value you will get from the consultation depends on the law firm and your preparation.
We know it must be very surprising to see that a bankruptcy law firm would want people to schedule bankruptcy consultations.
But we promise we are not driven by our own self interests.
It is just that if you are considering bankruptcy or have any questions, you literally have nothing to lose from scheduling a free consultation. Okay, so maybe a little bit of time, but that is a small price to pay to get more personalized information than you can find on the internet.
Bankruptcy is very technical proceeding based on each debtor’s unique facts and circumstances. The internet (especially our blog) can be a great resource for general information.
When it comes to applying that information to your personal situation — even just to answer preliminary questions like which of your debts can be discharged — it is worth it to speak with an attorney.
This is because debtors often come to us after they have taken actions that actually worsen their financial situation and limit their options. One of the most underrated aspects of bankruptcy is its timing.
Consulting with a bankruptcy attorney early can be critical. The best bankruptcy attorneys may be able to save you a lot of time, money, and headache by preempting common problems that can complicate bankruptcies.
Preparing for Your Consultation
To get the most out of your bankruptcy consultation, you want to be prepared. Before your appointment, it will help you to make a list of your debts and your regular monthly expenses.
Your monthly expenses can affect your eligibility for certain types of bankruptcy relief. Providing this information during the initial consultation can help the attorney determine if you qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If you have filed bankruptcy previously, you will want to provide the type and the date of discharge. The time you must wait before you can file bankruptcy again depends on the type of bankruptcy filed previously and the type of bankruptcy you want to file now.
Prepare a list of your questions to ask the attorney in advance. Many local bankruptcy attorneys restrict their free consultations to thirty minutes. We believe this arbitrary time limit diminishes the value of the consultation. It can be very difficult to discuss everything that is important to your case in such a brief period of time.
Although we do not impose any time limit on our bankruptcy consultations, it is still very helpful for you to prepare a list of questions before your consultation.
Get to Know the Attorney
Besides questions just about bankruptcy, its process, and its consequences, we encourage you to get to know the attorney and the law firm.
Ask the person conducting the consultation if he or she will be your attorney if you decide to retain. If the answer is no, be sure to ask who will be. You do not want to be assigned to an inexperienced attorney.
Be aware that some bankruptcy law firms use dedicated “intake specialists” to conduct consultations. These are essentially salespeople whose jobs depend on convincing clients to file bankruptcy regardless of whether it is the best choice for the client.
To avoid high pressure sales tactics, you may want to prioritize bankruptcy law firms that offer free consultations by telephone (like us).
If you do consult with an attorney, ask the attorney if he or she has any history of professional discipline. You can verify the answer provided by looking up the attorney at the State Bar of Arizona website.
You should also ask questions about the attorney’s policies for client communications and billing.
Many bankruptcy attorneys will not commit to any response times for calls or messages. We answer all client messages within 24 hours. Bankruptcy is stressful enough without worrying about whether your attorney will ever respond to your questions.
The same applies to billing practices. Many local bankruptcy attorneys advertise “no money down” or other marketing gimmicks to induce client commitment.
While these fees may seem attractive or even necessary, the client typically pays 2-3 times more than he or she would at another firm.
There also may be hidden fees or provisions that escalate the amount you will owe the attorney. You may want to review a copy of the fee agreement before you agree to retain the attorney.