In Boston and in Massachusetts, finding the best, qualified bankruptcy lawyers and attorneys that know their job and how to do it well can be challenging. However, it is not impossible and with the right steps, this task can (and should!) be accomplished rather “sooner than later”. At the end of the day, it is all just a matter of being patient and putting in a more-than-trivial amount of effort.
Why and when should I consider filing a bankruptcy case?
The reasons why people file for bankruptcy protection in the United States is as varied and complicated as the bankruptcy process itself. In the final analysis however, it really comes down to an individual’s or couples’ “relationship” to their debts as a whole, the individual’s or couples’ ability to weather unforeseen changes in their financial circumstances, and the individual’s or couple’s tolerance of personal and financial “stress”. Therefore, the decision of whether and when to file a bankruptcy petition is both one that is based on a rational self-examination of a person’s financial circumstances as well as an assessment of their own emotional state and ability to handle their financial affairs without outside assistance.
In bankruptcy parlance, we refer to people that “file” for bankruptcy protection as Debtors and the entities to whom they owe money or referred to as creditors. No two debtor’s financial and emotional makeup is ever identical. However, there are certain basic, objective indicators that a bankruptcy case may be needed to resolve a debtor’s financial distress. These indicators include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The debtor is making only minimum payments to creditors each month, leaving the debtor with an insufficient amount of money to pay for his regular monthly living expenses;
- The debtor is falling behind or missing payments to one or more creditors each month;
- One or more of the debtor’s financial accounts has been referred to a debt collection agency or to a debt collection lawyer to commence suit;
- The debtor is being sued in courts of law on credit card and personal loans;
- The debtor has received letters and other notifications indicating that one or more of his or her creditors is threatening repossession or foreclosure of essential assets needed for the debtor maintain a minimum standard of living;
- The debtor is having difficulty focusing either at home or at work due to the distractions caused by his or her financial commitments; and
- The debtor is losing sleep fixating on thoughts of how to deal with his or her debts on a going forward basis.
Using these kinds of objective, evidence-based criteria for a self-assessment may yield results that better guide a person’s decision-making process, rather than listening to Internet- or radio-based promotions promising financial relief as a result of allegedly “secret programs that credit card companies don’t want you to know about”. If it sounds too good to be true, that it likely is. To put it bluntly, there is simply norealand meaningful substitute for legal remedies provided under the Bankruptcy Code, regardless what credit card companies and their hucksters would have people believe.
Do I need to use a bankruptcy lawyer to file for bankruptcy?
In a word, “no”. No one is legally required to retain a competent bankruptcy attorney in order to seek protection under the Bankruptcy Code. Then again, no one is legally required to seek out the assistance of a surgeon in removing a cancerous tumor or an appendix about to burst. If a person wants to file a bankruptcy petition or do their own appendectomy on themselves, they are perfectly free to do so. In both cases, the process will be dangerous, likely extremely painful, and a successful outcome is much more likely to be in doubt. Oh, I forgot to mention that since the enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (“BAPCPA”) in 2005, the likely better medical analogy would be that of performing one’s own Prefrontal Lobotomy (rather than an appendectomy) due to the fact that the process was made a full order of magnitude more complex and involves a number of additional steps that the bankruptcy process did not include prior to the BAPCPA’s enactment. So, yes, by all means, people are legally permitted to prepare and prosecute their own bankruptcy cases without the representation of a competent lawyer; it’s just that they would likely will not enjoy the result of such an endeavor.
You ask: ”Why is the bankruptcy process been made so complicated?” The reason is that the Bankruptcy Code and the rules of procedure were enacted by Congress so they strike a balance between the demands of creditors, on the one hand, for accountability on the part of their borrowers, attempting to “weed out” those persons that may be intentionally trying to “abuse the bankruptcy process” and, on the other hand, the need to provide meaningful relief to borrowers experiencing genuine financial distress so that they may once again become active and productive members of the economic life of the country. This is a very difficult balance strike and the Bankruptcy Code has been the subject of many changes, amendments, revisions, and deletions, all designed to maintain this “dynamic balance” between debtors and creditors.
What then should I look for online in order to evaluate which the lawyer to retain to represent me in bankruptcy? Shouldn’t the legal fee be the primary consideration?
Certainly, the cost of retaining a particular attorney is always a consideration in deciding which attorney to retain and not an unimportant one. But most competent lawyers won’t advertise how much they would charge to do a bankruptcy case because there is no way for the lawyer to quote a fee blindly without first spending some time evaluating the client’s financial circumstances in determining if bankruptcy is a good option and, if so, what the chapter of bankruptcy ought to be filed (Yes, there is more than one kind of bankruptcy in the same way as there is more than one flavor of ice cream!). Those that advertise “cut rate“ prices online may not even be licensed attorneys at all but merely “bankruptcy petition-preparers” who are mere “scribes” for their customers that not even allowed to provide any legal advice all. So, then, how then to evaluate the vast number of lawyers that one can find on the Internet? Whether you use a general “search engine” such as Google.com, Yahoo.com or the like, or more lawyer-specific databases such as Avvo.com, Lawyers.com, Martindale.com or Findlaw.com, the “evaluation process” for you should remain the same. What follows are more specific criteria to conduct that kind of evaluation.
Find a reputable firm
So, how does one evaluate a lawyer’s “reputation”? The first step is to search for a firm that has overall positive reviews as well as satisfaction with their services from their clients. Read over the reviews themselves and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do the reviews appear to be “organic” in nature or do they appear to be just “boilerplate” copy?
- Do the reviews reflect the lawyer as being personable and compassionate?
- What kind of the bankruptcy case does the reviewer describe and how did the reviewed lawyer handle their case?
- Is the person giving the review described their financial circumstances in a way that is similar to yours?
- How far back in time to the reviews go?
- How many reviews are being provided? Is it just 5 or 10 or more than 40 or 50 ?
- Has the reviewer described a legal issue that is similar to the one that you may be facing? For example, has the lawyer saved homes from foreclosure? Removed creditor’s liens from a client’s home? Successfully defended or prosecuted a client’s legal rights in an adversary proceeding or contested matter before the Bankruptcy Court?A good choice in this scenario for anyone regardless of their situation would be the Law Offices of Richard N. Gottlieb, who have more than 2 decades worth of experience under their belts. They have advised their clients in a successful manner while helping them turn over a new leaf.
Make sure the firm is versatile
What this essentially means is making sure that the firm’s area of expertise is not limited to just one specific type of client in the bankruptcy process. Why is this important? In order to be able to represent anyone effectively in the bankruptcy process they need to understand the process not just from one party’s point of view, but, rather, from multiple points of view. For this reason, it’s important to determine whether a particular bankruptcy attorney has represented bankruptcy trustees in the past so that the lawyer will understand what motivates and what information is needed by trustees in bankruptcy. Similarly, it’s important that a lawyer understand the motivations of secured creditors (such as, mortgage lenders and car loan providers) and this can only be done if that lawyers actually represented such parties in the bankruptcy process.The Law Offices of Richard N. Gottlieb is an exceptional example of being an all-rounder, as they work with numerous different kinds of individuals, creditors, and trustees. Along with this, they also handle cases that involve issues dealing with bankruptcy, litigation, and other legal matters in both state and federal courts.
Ensure that the attorneys/lawyers are credible
In times of desperation, it is rather easy to blindly take and follow the advice of someone who appears to be knowledgeable on the outside but, in reality, is not. This is why it is important to do some research beforehand just to be on the safe side. In other words, taking a look at the ratings and reviews of the individual attorneys/lawyers could end up making all the difference in getting the help one needs by proving beneficial.
Peer endorsements can also be useful
Oftentimes, clients turn to others like themselves for honest, helpful ratings and reviews before deciding once and for all if they want to get on board as well. However, what many may tend to forget about is what individuals with similar professions have to say about their fellow peers (i.e., lawyers endorsing other lawyers, etc.). Not only does this offer another perspective, but it also provides an additional layer of credibility. This way, the client gains a better idea of the type of person they will be working with and what exactly they are potentially getting themselves into.
Check for any blogs
Blogs are especially crucial due to the fact that they could give valuable insight that one was not previously aware of. Since many of them contain information about a wide range of topics, there is a good chance that clients will find whatever they are looking for. In this case, that being Boston bankruptcy attorneys. If this does end up being the case, it will help the client get one step closer to locating the best Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer near them.
Awards & nominations are optional
Something arguably not talked about enough are the awards and nominations that a firm receives because of their services. While these should not be a major component in one’s decision to join forces with that firm, it could definitely be a factor, nonetheless. This is due to the fact that the awards and nominations do hold some degree of weight, but only to the extent that it boosts the already existing legitimacy of that firm. It lets the client know that the firm and its services are legit and at the very least, they are doing something right when it comes to their lawyers and attorneys.
So why choose the Law Offices of Richard N. Gottlieb?
After going over all of the steps to finding the perfect Boston bankruptcy attorney or the best Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyeronline, one may still be legitimately skeptical about working with the Law Offices of Richard N. Gottlieb. This is completely understandable for a number of reasons. However, these lingering concerns can be laid with as little as a five-minute telephone call and the manner in which it is received . Ask yourself:
- Who answered the telephone when you called? Was it the lawyer himself or paralegal or legal secretary?
- When you spoke with the attorney, did he sound cold and indifferent or compassionate regarding your circumstances?
- What kinds of questions that a lawyer ask? Were they general or analytical in nature? Did the lawyer appear to treat your concerns as important or as just another name on a case file?
- Did the lawyer quote you a fee without asking about the specific circumstances of your finances or invite you to come into his office for free consultation before being able to quote you quote you a fee?
- Did the lawyer sound authentic and personable over the telephone? Did the lawyer seen interested in you as a person rather than just another source of income? Did it sound like the lawyer enjoyed the practice of bankruptcy law or that this was merely his “9-to-5 job”?
There are many more questions that could be asked and should be a before deciding upon retaining a bankruptcy lawyer. But in the final analysis , the question that you need to ask yourself is (a) whether a particular lawyer has both the objective legal expertise to help solve your financial problems and (b) whether that lawyers personality serves as a “good fit” with your own.
With this in mind, the Boston Law firm of the Law Offices of Richard N. Gottlieb specializing in bankruptcy and related-litigation stands out from the rest because of their unrivaled services and complete customer satisfaction.