Bankruptcy petition preparers vs. Bankruptcy attorneys

Bankruptcy petition preparers — BPPs — are non-attorneys who will, for a fee, prepare your bankruptcy paperwork for you. Why should you pay more to hire a bankruptcy attorney when a BPP is so much cheaper?

First, only licensed attorneys can practice law in Hawaii. If you have an unusual situation or something beyond the most simple bankruptcy, who is going to help you interpret the bankruptcy code and the case law? BPPs, by law, can only help you fill out your bankruptcy forms. Who do you want on your side when your house is on the line?

Second, you can sue your bankruptcy attorney if something goes wrong.  You can’t do that with a BPP, who only helps you fill out your forms and doesn’t give any legal advice. Attorneys carry malpractice insurance so if we do something wrong, our insurance company will pay if appropriate.

Third, we can make an appearance for you in court and we will appear with you at your 341 meeting. No one can represent someone else in court but an attorney. Any calls or correspondence regarding your case will be directed to your attorney.

Last, we and the other bankruptcy attorneys spend time keeping up on the latest case law and legislation moving through Congress which could affect bankruptcy in the future.  The Hawaii Bar Association mandates 3 hours of continuing legal education per year.  We spend far more than 3 hours a year reviewing the opinions of the Hawaii bankruptcy judges, bankruptcy appellate panels, 9th Circuit and US Supreme Court opinions. We want to be on top of any trends or binding opinions that may affect your case.

So why should you pay more to hire a bankruptcy attorney when a BPP is so much cheaper?  Because you want your bankruptcy to go as smoothly as possible, and you want someone who will be there if something goes wrong.

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