Bankruptcy Mills—Welcome to Cattle Call
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.
Bankruptcy Fees and Price Shopping
Let’s assume you have a brain tumor. You need to find the best surgeon to perform a life saving operation. What is your first step? Do you pick up the phone and call all the brain surgeons in town and ask what they charge for an operation like yours? Can you imagine what kind of answer you would get if you made that call? But hey, if you feel comfortable hiring the person who is going to save your life by making that phone call, by all means, make it!
Calling Around for a Price
This morning I got a call from someone wanting to know what I charge for a bankruptcy case. I get at least one of these calls a day. The person only wants a number. They don’t want to answer questions. They don’t want to tell you anything about their facts. They just want a number. They just want to know–who is the cheapest bankruptcy attorney? I’m always polite but I always have to tell them—it’s probably not me.
Cheap and Best Aren’t the Same
I am good at what I do and I offer an incredible service for the fee that I charge. That fee always stays within a certain range but fees are set based on what you need done. How complicated is your case? How many liens have to be avoided? Do I need to file motions to value property? In other words, how much work is going to be required to get you the best result available? That’s right the best result—not the cheapest fee.
The Best Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you truly believe bankruptcy lawyers are a dime a dozen you’re wrong. All you have to do to see that is to visit a bankruptcy court and watch a few hearings. It won’t take 30 minutes to figure out which bankruptcy lawyers are good. Some bankruptcy lawyers are good at getting your money–but not at protecting you.
If your sole focus is the fee you pay, I would respectfully suggest that you need to rethink your position. This is your financial life you are talking about. The quality of the bankruptcy lawyer you hire will make all the difference in how easy and successful your bankruptcy case will be.
Fees and Results Matter
If you are trying to find the cheapest lawyer out there, do me a favor and mark me off your list. I might not charge anymore than the people you call for quotes. The difference is–I charge you based on what you need. My fees are not the same for every case. No two cases are the same. Your facts are different from those of my next client. What you need, and what needs to be done to accomplish your goals, is unique. So is the fee I charge. My focus is on fees and results—not just fees. Results matter. Fees matter. Good bankruptcy lawyers take both into account and develop a plan that best serves you.
I am always aware that people struggling with debt don’t have any extra money. I’m concerned about charging you a fair price for the best results. If that is not your goal, we aren’t a good match. I sincerely wish you well with that cheap bankruptcy lawyer you are looking to hire.