How Important Is The Attorney-Client Relationship In A Bankruptcy?
It is very important to have a good attorney-client relationship in a bankruptcy. You are hiring somebody, not only to give you legal analysis of how your circumstances are affected by filing for bankruptcy or debt settlement. For example, I always communicate to my clients who wish to move forward on debt settlement, that if you want to move forward with the lump sum payment option, we will be trying to settle your debts for thirty or forty cents on the dollar. The amount of the debt that is forgiven is considered taxable income in that particular tax year, and that is something that shocks many people, but it is definitely important information that can affect the client’s decisions moving forward.
A key component of the attorney-client relationship is you need a counselor, you need somebody who says: “Here are the legal landmines you need to be aware of, and here is either how we’re going to deal with them or here is how we can honestly and truthfully avoid them.” That is a huge component of the attorney-client relationship. It goes back to those bankruptcy mills versus the smaller practices like Atlas Law Firm. I cannot stress enough, when you hire us as your attorneys, you get us, you get the attorney you met with, the person you feel comfortable in engaging.
That is a huge benefit when people come in to Atlas Law Firm, and retains us. When someone meets with me, they are meeting with me. They get me on their case from A to Z. The knowledge and familiarity I have with their case is definitely a benefit to them. It goes back to that client services aspect I was talking about earlier. When I get a call from a client and they say, “Hey, we met a couple of weeks ago”, and I say yes, I remember and remember this issue with the motorcycle, for example, and I can say, “Okay, yes. I’ve got my notes right here and if you were to do this or do that, here is how this could be interpreted by the court and it’s either okay to go forward with that or maybe not”.
I can give them that response in a relatively short amount of time. Whereas at a bankruptcy mill they are calling in and hearing a legal assistant say, “Okay. Well, that’s not something I can help you with. That’s a legal question. I am going to put a message into the attorney and he or she will get back to you.” Well, at most bankruptcy mills, the attorneys are busy meeting with potential clients, because they have such a huge influx of people coming in. That attorney probably is not going to return your message for another 24-48 hours, or longer.
That is a huge benefit to hiring the smaller law firm, such as Atlas Law Firm.
What Warning Signs Should Someone Consider When Hiring A Bankruptcy Attorney?
Everything in bankruptcy is on your honor. You are representing the issues in your petition, which are your assets, debts, income, expenses, and you are under oath. You are saying that this is the reality of my situation. If you are meeting with an attorney who is suggesting that perhaps you keep something secret or hide an asset, or perhaps say just look the other way on this, then that attorney is putting you at risk. If you file a bankruptcy case, you have concealed something significant, and it is discovered later, then you may be sued for bankruptcy fraud.
The penalties for bankruptcy fraud are quite severe. There can be jail time involved and steep penalties. These are the types of fraud that Denny Hecker committed, and he received a 10 year federal prison sentence. Therefore, if you are meeting with somebody who is suggesting that you do something other than be honest and truthful, then that should be a huge red flag, walk the other way.
What Sets You And Your Firm Apart In Handling Bankruptcy Cases?
First and foremost is client service. I have worked previously at one of the largest bankruptcy firms in Minnesota and I really did not like their client services at all. I went to law school because I wanted to be a lawyer who would help people. That was a huge reason for me deciding to become a lawyer. I felt that this law firm treated their attorneys more as sales people. I felt like I was a salesperson who just kind of sat there, gathered some information, and then tried to put a large fee in front of the client.
When I worked at that bankruptcy mill, I did that all day long. I really did not have the time to answer people’s questions or help them understand the process, because of the schedule and the amount of people I was dealing with. There was such a pressure to spend no more than forty-five minutes meeting with each potential client. I was continually pushed to hit that forty-five minute mark (preferably 30 minutes). It was suggested that I do not even talk about the debt issues, because it was not even relevant to the price bankruptcy mill was going to charge. So when I went out on my own, and created Atlas Law Firm, I wanted to build the firm on and foundation of good client service.
When people come in and meet with me, it is going to be very clear to them that number one, I am going to take the time to address their concerns, and answer their questions. I actually care about their situations, and the resolution of it rather than just treating them as another client file and getting them to sign on the dotted line. So I would say primarily that is definitely a focus at Atlas Law Firm. I think it is clear if you go online and look at bankruptcy attorney reviews, you are going to find more positive reviews out there about myself, and Atlas Law Firm. I think it is a strong indication that people appreciate the client services we offer.
The second factor is the bankruptcy attorney’s fees. At Atlas Law Firm, we put our bankruptcy fees on our website and we are transparent about them. They are honest fees and we are not trying to gouge anyone. We want people to know what it costs to file bankruptcy and the criteria we use for the prices we charge. We do offer payment plans, $0 upfront for people who are not able to pay our attorney’s fees in full (with a guarantor agreement). That is definitely something we offer our clients that not all bankruptcy lawyers in our area offer. We know that people are in a crisis, and they are looking for a resolution, and we want to work with our clients to get to the resolution that they need.
For more information on Attorney Client Relationship In A Bankruptcy, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (763) 568-7343 today.
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