We’ve all done it. . .

purchased a cheap product only to have it break or fall apart shortly thereafter.

A watch.  A purse.  Sunglasses. Electronics.

That’s OK when you don’t mind throwing something away and getting a new one.

But when you’re dealing with personal services, such as hiring a bankruptcy attorney or other professionals, if the quality isn’t there, the damage often can’t be fixed.

Today I responded to a public question posted on Lawyers.com regarding a bankruptcy attorney which illustrates something I’ve written about for years:

You Get What You Pay For.  Sometimes.

This is true for pretty much anything in this world, but is equally true of hiring professionals.

What Can Happen When You Hire A Low Fee Attorney

Here is the post (I kept the misspellings and grammatical errors):

 “I pay his promotional fee of 695.00 (700.00). I give him all the info he requested, but not the extra fee of 335.00 for filing. By the next meeting , I spoke with his assistant and provide the paperwork he needed to complete the form and the supporting documentation by the end of February. Ever since then I HAVE NOT HEAR FROM HIM OR HIS ASSISTENT AGAIN. I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CALLED SO MANY TIME TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE STATU S OF MY CASE, BUT HE DO NOT RESPONCE… TODAY IS JUNE 23TH AND HE HAS NOD DO ANYTHIHG YET. I SEND HIM AN E-MAIL REQUESTING MY MONEY BACK AND NO MORE CALLS. NEXT THING I KNOW , HIS ASSISTENT CALL ME , PRETANDING THAT THERE ARE A FEW MORE THING MISSING (ALMOST FOUR MONTHS LATER) AND AFTER MY REQUEST FOR MY MONEY BACK…??????”

Like a fish to water, this poor soul, already in financial trouble, bit on the attorney’s hook and was reeled in.

Now, I don’t know who this attorney is.  They may be a very competent bankruptcy practitioner, or maybe not.

But this is a typical scenario that results when someone shops for bargain basement representation:

Poor communication,  Missed Expectations, Goals Not Achieved, Higher Costs to Fix Mistakes.

I’ve previously written about the Dangers of Hiring Low Cost Bankruptcy Attorneys.   This highlights a simple economic fact:  Any attorney who charges that little for a case must somehow do a very high volume of cases,  often diluting their expertise among multiple different areas of law, to stay afloat financially.

And when you do a high volume of cases very little (if any) personal attention will be paid to any one of the cases.  There will be delays,  lack of communication and, as in this person’s case, probably loss of the fees paid.

And that’s the best case scenario.

You can also wind up with an attorney who makes serious mistakes, misses deadlines, doesn’t complete the paperwork properly, or doesn’t advise you of all the risks (hidden and otherwise) and you could end up losing valuable property or not discharging debts you otherwise could have.

Or worse.

Paying High Fees For Bankruptcy Isn’t Always Better

I counseled a gentleman in my office yesterday who is in a Chapter 7 case represented by an attorney who also won’t return his calls, respond to his e-mails, or tell him what’s going on in his case.

The attorney also failed to advise him about the risks of losing certain assets and, as a result, the client did not obtain valuations on his properties and he is losing one of them, and the other he had to pay the bankruptcy trustee six figures to prevent it from being sold.

He paid that attorney $10,000 to file the Chapter 7 case for him!

Yes, really.  And it was not a particularly complicated case.

But the attorney he hired was not a true bankruptcy attorney.  He was a real estate attorney who has filed some bankruptcy cases.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m entrusting my financial well being to a professional, I’m going to want them to be a certified specialist in that field, or at least very experienced.

CONCLUSION – Cost Should Not Be Your Only Criteria When Choosing Bankruptcy Counsel

Affordability is important when hiring a bankruptcy attorney.  But you have to be realistic when it comes to what you want to achieve, and the risks involved in getting there.

In just this past week I’ve seen several examples of problems arising from hiring low cost bankruptcy attorneys, and also high cost, but incompetent bankruptcy attorneys.

The solution is that you need to research your attorney before you hire them, and your criteria for evaluating them should not solely be their price!

My article on What To Look For When Hiring A Bankruptcy Attorney  provides some guidance in this endeavor.

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