In general, the only bankruptcy debtors I come into contact are my clients. Every once in a while I get a call from another attorneys client asking for advice. I also overhear what debtors say to each other at the 341 meetings, so I have some idea of the most common complaints debtors have about their attorneys. These generally include:
- My attorney doesn’t call me back.
- I never get to speak with my attorney. I only get to talk to paralegals.
- My attorney requires that all questions be in writing.
- I have no idea what is going on in my case.
I’m a bankruptcy lawyer so I tend to want to give my fellow attorneys the benefit of the doubt when I hear these types of complaints. Debtors are human beings, and human beings in general like to complain when they are stressed and bankruptcy is stressful. However, when I hear the same complaints over and over about the same law firms, I have to start wondering what is going on over there.
There are typically two types of bankruptcy law firms. First, there are smaller firms where the debtors primarily work with the debtor and perhaps a single legal assistant. I fall into that category. I offer personalized service and my clients can speak with me whenever they have questions or concerns. I keep my overhead low so that I don’t have to file a huge number of cases, so when my clients call me I know who they are, and what is going on in their specific situation. My clients are generally pleased with the legal services I provide, and that is reflected in the online reviews I receive and in the number of clients referred to me by existing clients.
The second type of bankruptcy firm is the volume filer. They file a lot of cases and employ several attorneys and paralegals. To keep the cases moving they have to put procedures in place that make it easier for the attorneys and paralegals to process the cases but at the expense of customer service. Debtors typically have to put all questions in writing and are lucky to get a response within the same work day.
In considering these two types of firms, the irony is that they cost about the same amount to employ for a bankruptcy filing. If you are looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, understand the difference in the law firms that practice bankruptcy law. Do you want a firm representing you where you can’t get an attorney on the telephone or do you want personalized service?