People residing in the Sacramento metropolitan area must make many decisions when deciding to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I am often contacted by individuals who have already made his or her filing but now needs an attorney to review the case in order to correct the mistakes that have been made in the case. I will offer some suggestions to take into consideration for those who have considered filing for bankruptcy.
Using a bankruptcy “mill.”
In an effort to increase volume and reduce fees many local bankruptcy firms have established a “mill” approach to serve the demand the market has seen over the last few years. Because bankruptcy law involves significant paperwork firms are able to batch cases together and file them concurrently. While convenient for the attorney, this process does not serve the client well. These firms become overly burdened and often lose sight over the individual needs of their customers. The clients are batched in with other clients who are in a similar financial position and led through the process as if they were cattle. This mass production approach to bankruptcy reduces the potential benefits of the bankruptcy code for the individual client.
Using a legal document service or Paralegal to assist with the filing.
The state legislature permits use of “document preparation services” to help self-represented litigants prepare their legal paperwork. These document preparation services, however, are not required to have any specific education or experience within the field. The problem these services create is that they are not permitted to provide legal advice (which can be a tricky question in and of itself). The concept is that they are literally putting down the client’s information onto the forms but making no decision with regard to what is to be included in the legal filing. Of course this is awkward for the clients since they are not familiar with what types of information should be disclosed.
On the other hand, so called “paralegals” cannot offer independent services directly to the public. A paralegal must be working in direct conjunction with an attorney to be operating legally. If not, then this person is breaking the law and should not be trusted to handle your legal matter.
Filing for Bankruptcy on your own.
In many cases people file for bankruptcy with little or no assets. These cases can be rather routine and are easily resolved. In an effort to save money these individuals may attempt to file the bankruptcy on their own. The problem with these cases is that due to the technical nature of the bankruptcy process a single mistake made by the individual has the potential to derail the entire case. What would ordinarily have been an open and shut case can become a nightmare when not properly filed. The minimal cost savings to avoid the attorney does not often benefit the individual in the long run.
If you are someone you know is considering the bankruptcy process they should call my office to schedule a free consultation. As a Sacramento Bankruptcy Attorney I have handled multitude of cases and have helped my clients get the fresh start they deserve.