Ah, the single most often-asked question I have heard over the last 15+ years…
I know for a fact that some people think I’m just being avoidant when I reply, “Well, it depends.”
For some people, price is everything. I completely understand that, especially when a potential client has spent so much time being focussed on price because they have been struggling financially.
Implied in this thinking is that all bankruptcy lawyers are the same. If all bankruptcy lawyers are the same, why not just get the cheapest you can find?
That’s the funny part: all bankruptcy lawyers are not the same.
Are all doctors the same? Are all teachers the same? Are all politicians the same? Ok, maybe not the best example (although if they were, we wouldn’t have elections).
But the point is this: all lawyers are not the same, just like these other professionals aren’t the same. We’re not-to use a legal term-“fungible”.
So, price can’t be the only factor to consider when deciding on a bankruptcy attorney.
What else is there to consider?
- Experience: do you want someone handling your family’s financial future who is just out of law school, or someone who has filed thousands of bankruptcies and has seen all that can happen?
- Demeanor: I refer to this as “bedside manner”. Do ow want someone who only sees dollar signs when you walk in the office, or someone who doesn’t seem to have time to talk to you, or maybe talks down to you or is judgmental? Or do you want someone who treats you fairly and friendly, and explains the entire process to you? Do you want someone who charges you every time you call the office with a question, or do you want someone who understands that this is a huge event in your life, and is happy to take the time to make sure you’re comfortable and fully-informed?
- Office Staff: How you are treated by office staff is a reflection of the attitude and demeanor of the attorney. That is to say that if the receptionist is rude, or in a hurry, or doesn’t take the time to actually talk to you, then you will probably get the same treatment from the attorney.
- Office Space: Is the office clean, modern, and organized? Are there stacks of paper and files all over the desk and floor (it’s out there!)? A clean and organized office is indicative of an attorney and staff who are not rushing to try to meet deadlines, or always putting out fires. A clean office reflects the respect an attorney and staff have for their work, and for their clients.
- Reviews: Does the attorney have good reviews on sites like Yelp and Google? Does the attorney have any reviews? How recent are the reviews? When you are dealing with the number of clients bankruptcy attorneys typically service, there are bound to be an unhappy client once in awhile-that’s life. But when there are unhappy or negative online reviews, does the attorney address the issues raised or deflect? A good rule of thumb is to ignore the best review and worst review, then consider what’s left. Does the attorney then sound like someone you could talk to and work with in this trying time?
- Referrals: This is huge. Have you heard good things from friends and family about the attorney? Did the attorney meet the expectations of people whose opinions you trust? Some people consider this to be the main factor to consider when looking for a bankruptcy lawyer.
How some lawyers set their prices
First and foremost, we all have overhead. That is to say that there are costs associated with keeping the door open, the lights on, and staff paid. Some things we as lawyers have to pay for:
- Office supplies
- Equipment (computers, printers, credit card machines, furniture, etc.)
- Subscriptions (online database access, legal research, etc.)
- Document prep software
- Practice management software
- Online storage and backup
- Physical storage space
- Bar fees
- Continuing legal education classes
- Bank fees
- Taxes of all sorts
- Business licenses
- About 10 other things I’m not thinking of right now 🙂
All of that costs money, and if we charge less than than the cost of all these expenses, we go out of business quickly.
On top of that, we have families to feed.
So, we have a baseline amount. But how much above that number do we charge?
That depends. Some lawyers charge based upon what they think the potential client can afford. If they can pay more, they get charged more. Some lawyers charge based on how badly the client needs to file. You have a wage garnishment? That just added $500! Or some lawyers say that if you have more creditors, then you have to pay more.
I’m certainly not judging these tactics, but that’s not how we do it. I’ve found that when a lawyer (or any professional) competes on price, it’s because they have little else to offer other than low prices, and they consider themselves and their services fungible.
If you have a simple case that will not take too much time to properly service, then we charge less. If your case is complicated and will be very time consuming, then we have to charge a little more. That’s it. No games, no guessing how much you can pay. No guessing how desperate you are to file.
But this also means that one size does not fit all.
There is no blanket set amount that applies to everyone in every case. Cases are different, and the amount of time we need to properly care for you and your case in the manner you expect and we offer differs.
Our promise to you:
We will not overcharge you for your case. Nor will we have hidden fees. You will know up front what we charge, and how you can pay for it. Period.
So, how much do we charge for bankruptcy?
The right amount based on your unique, individual case.
How Bakersfield and Temecula Bankruptcy Lawyer Scott Bell can help
If you have found yourself in unmanageable debt, but are still hesitant to file for bankruptcy, come discuss it with us with a free consultation. You can reach us at (661) 243-1737 or (951) 296-6775. You can also speak with us directly through the Live Chat feature of our website.
Don’t let your debt ruin your life. There is a way out. Let us help.