As with any area of the law, it is important to carefully select an attorney who will respond to your personal situation. The attorney should not be too busy to meet you individually and answer questions as necessary. The best way to find a trustworthy bankruptcy attorney is to seek recommendations from family, friends or other members of the community, especially any attorney you know and respect. You should carefully read retainers and other documents the attorney asks you to sign. You should not hire an attorney unless he or she agrees to represent you throughout your case. In bankruptcy, as in all areas of life, remember that the person advertising the cheapest rate is not necessarily the best. Many of the best bankruptcy lawyers do not advertise at all. Paying for debt consolidation is rarely a good idea. There is almost nothing that a paid debt counselor can offer other that a bankruptcy attorney can not do. There is no good reason to pay someone for this service.

A reputable attorney will generally provide counseling on whether bankruptcy is the best option. This avoids the double charge of having to pay a counselor and then an attorney. If bankruptcy is not the right answer for you, a good attorney will offer a range of other suggestions.

Document preparation services also known as “bankruptcy petition preparers” or “paralegal services” involve non-lawyers who offer to prepare bankruptcy forms for a fee. Problems with these services often arise because non-lawyers cannot offer advice on difficult bankruptcy cases and they offer no services once a bankruptcy case has begun. There are also many shady operators in this field, who give bad advice and defraud consumers.

When first meeting a bankruptcy attorney, you should be prepared to answer the following questions: What types of debt are causing you the most trouble? What are your significant assets? How did your debts arise and are they secured? Is any action about to occur to foreclose or repossess property or to shut off utility service? Re you currently involved in any litigation? What is your annual gross income? What are your goals in filing the case?