Bankruptcy Mills are firms that file a huge number of bankruptcy cases by using staff to do most of the work. Attorneys spend very little, if any, time with the clients. Going to a Mill’s office is like cattle call. Don’t kid yourself—you are the cow. You are there to make them money. Your case is just as plain and ordinary as the next “cow” in the waiting room. Your facts will be made to fit their system. Oh, and guess what, if you are filing a Chapter 13 case, you are going to pay the exact same fee to the Mill that you would pay to a full service bankruptcy firm. What a bargain! Cut rate service for full price. Where do I sign up?
How Mills Lead You to Slaughter
Okay, I admit most people have no idea how to find a good bankruptcy lawyer. Some people end up in a Mill’s office because Mills tend to heavily advertise. You see Mills with billboard ads, on back covers of phone books, and in newspapers. Mills blanket the market to get their names out there. Once these Mills have you in the office they count on two things. First, they count on you not knowing any better. After all, most people don’t know what to expect when they go to meet with a bankruptcy lawyer. Second, they count on you being too embarrassed or scared to walk away. Most people have trouble talking about their financial problems. Mills prey on your insecurities to fill their pockets.
Why it Matters
Every bankruptcy case is unique. Every single case requires an attorney to look at the facts. Every case has the potential for problems that can cost you. You are the client. You are unique. You are paying the fee. You deserve more than 5 minutes of an attorney’s time. You deserve to be able to ask questions. You deserve to have your attorney answer them. It matters, because you matter.
What the Attorney Should Do
The first step in protecting yourself is to be informed. The attorney is the person who should be meeting with you and gathering your facts. The attorney should be asking you questions about what you own, who you owe, what you want to keep and what you want to give up. The attorney should be asking about possible judgments and liens that might be avoidable. AFTER the attorney meets with you, the ATTORNEY should tell you your options. The attorney should be the person giving you advice on how to get out of debt.
What You Should Do
If you ever find yourself in a situation where the staff is asking all the questions and making recommendations, walk away. When you leave a bankruptcy lawyer’s office you should have spent a good bit of time with your attorney—not just his staff. You should know how to get in touch with your attorney in case of an emergency. You should feel comfortable that when you call back with questions the attorney will be the person answering them. You aren’t hiring the staff. You are hiring a bankruptcy attorney.