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Chicago Bankruptcy Question: What qualities should I look for in a Chicago bankruptcy lawyer?

Chicago Bankruptcy Question of the Day:  What qualities should I look for in a Chicago bankruptcy lawyer?  One of the most difficult challenges presented to someone seeking to hire a bankruptcy lawyer in Chicago is trying to figure out who to trust.  Like a good used car salesman, many attorneys can sell themselves very well, but are not all that good at practicing law.  There are some qualities that you should look for when making a decision as to which bankruptcy attorney to hire.  The attorney should be:

Professional:  You are meeting with an attorney, not hiring someone to clean out your garage.  The lawyer you meet with should be dressed like a professional and work out of a proper office.  You are not just another case or file number.  The attorney should recognize that and treat you with a proper level of respect.

Competent and honest:  You are going to discuss a variety of issues with the attorney and some of them will be very personal.  The bankruptcy attorney should be willing to not only ask you these questions, but also explain to you why they are asking in a manner that you understand.  The lawyer should also be able to lay out any issues anticipated in your case and how they will be addressed in plain language.  It is your financial independence on the line, so do not settle for an attorney who is evasive, uncertain or simply unwilling to explain things.

Frank:  Bankruptcy is not a perfect system and there are repercussions that you will have to face if you are going to file for bankruptcy protection.  A good bankruptcy attorney will be very clear with you regarding the effect that bankruptcy will have on your credit, the possible loss of assets in the bankruptcy process, the work that you will have to do to assist in the preparation of your case, the fees and costs involved and how they are determined and, in the case of a Chapter 13, how your plan payments will be calculated.  If these issues are not clearly explained to you, there will likely be problems in your case in the future.

Communicative:  One of the biggest complaints heard in the bankruptcy community is about lawyers who do not communicate with their clients.  Make sure that the bankruptcy attorney you hire is willing to explain the process, answer your questions and review your documents with you.  You should be able to reach your attorney throughout the bankruptcy process without significant restrictions.

Compassion:  To truly understand a bankruptcy case, the attorney has to understand the road that brought you to bankruptcy.  All too often, bankruptcy attorneys do not listen to the story behind the case, cutting their clients off and telling them that these factors are unimportant.  Not only is this rude, it can be malpractice.  Part of the attorney's job is to determine the appropriate timing for a potential client to file for bankruptcy protection.  If they do not listen to what is happening, they cannot effectively assist in making that determination.

Make sure that the bankruptcy attorney that you elect to hire has these qualities.  If you are not sure that they do, do not hire them and find an attorney with whom you are more comfortable.  You can always contact the attorneys at Ledford & Wu for a proper and free consultation.

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