BEWARE OF BANKRUPTCY SALESMAN
OR . . . HOW TO HIRE THE RIGHT ATTORNEY
It makes a difference which law firm you hire. There are many law firms where the only thing they do is bankruptcy. Some lawyers will tell you that they have filed many cases. These firms present this in their marketing as a good thing but this advertising is very misleading. Don’t be fooled.
The problem with many “bankruptcy firms” is that you may not have the experienced bankruptcy partner working on your case. Many of the factory type bankruptcy firms run a volume practice where they are mostly interested in quantity and not quality. They try to bring in as many bankruptcy cases as possible. They pay for internet SEO and Google ads for this purpose. Some of them pay for call centers to field new callers and they have untrained nonlegal staff answering phones and reading from a script.
New callers may meet with the partner at the initial consult but later they find that their case has been passed off to a junior associate who just graduated from law school and has no experience. In other cases, they find that a per diem attorney is handling their case. Frequently, they only meet this per diem attorney for the first time minutes before the mandatory meeting with the Bankruptcy Trustee or right before a court hearing in front of the Bankruptcy Judge. It can be a very unsettling experience for a client to go into court with an unknown attorney. It is simply impossible to have confidence or any comfort level with an attorney that you have never met. Even if the client’s new attorney is qualified, this treatment leaves clients very dismayed and unhappy about their choice of lawyer and law firm. In these high-volume bankruptcy firms, if the partner has to spend too much time talking to you, working on your file, or appearing in court, the firm has lost money on the client. They make money by spending less time on cases and delegating things to other people. Personal attention is non-existent at many of these firms. It is physically impossible for one attorney to handle thousands of files. If an attorney tells you that he or she has filed thousands of cases, it is because the attorney delegated much of the work on these cases and devoted as little time as possible to each one.
If their fees are less, it is simply because clients are paying for less. It is true that you get what you pay for. Firms that charge the lowest fees will not give you personal attention. The partner you may like and even hire is usually not the one that you will see sitting by your side when you meet your bankruptcy trustee. That per diem attorney who meets you in court may have only just looked at your file for the first time minutes before and even then, will probably not be aware of any unique or special circumstances in your case.
We have seen befuddled attorneys and unsuspecting clients go through this scenario at trustee meetings many times over the years. It happens with such regularity that it is shocking and a little degrading. Once a trustee was so amused by the fact that the debtors didn’t even know their own attorney who was sitting next to them for the first time in court, that the trustee said: “How do you know he even is an attorney? Just because he is wearing a tie? They sell those in the store you know.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Chapter 13 cases have a repayment plan that gives you up to 5 years to pay back all or part of your debts. If your lawyer is willing to dump you right at the start of the case, what kind of service can you expect during the next 5 years?
The lawyers that runs these kind of firms are nothing more than “bankruptcy salesmen.” They pigeonhole new clients into bankruptcy even when there may be other solutions. It is similar to the situation when a person goes to a surgeon for a medical problem. There is the risk that the surgeon may recommend surgery even when other options might be just as worthwhile and less costly and less risky. Why does this happen? Because the surgeon may not even be aware of other options or may not know what else to do. There are many bankruptcy lawyers who do not litigate or handle business matters. They may not know anything about foreclosure defense, how to defeat a lender’s summary judgment motion in the Supreme Court, or how to counterclaim or sue a lender. They may not know anything about lender liability, predatory lending, loan modification or collection law. In these cases, they will very likely offer bankruptcy as the solution for you, without considering other non-bankruptcy options. Bankruptcy can be helpful for some clients but it should be a last resort, not the only choice. If you have consulted with a bankruptcy salesman, you were likely told to file bankruptcy. Your recommended legal course of action was a foretold conclusion. It was preordained the moment you made the appointment to see a bankruptcy salesman. Once those wheels are set in motion, you will not have other options.
At Lanin Law P.C., we are not bankruptcy salesmen. We will never tell a client to file bankruptcy just because we know how. If you do choose to file bankruptcy and retain our firm to represent you, you can rest assured that you will have made that decision because it was the best choice for you, not for you lawyer. If you do want our help, we have extensive experience. We have handled many bankruptcy cases since the 1980’s. Our lead attorney Scott Lanin worked for two trustees, a bankruptcy examiner, and has the unique experience of having handled many bankruptcy cases for creditors and debtors. He represented large lenders and landlords like a shopping mall. He has represented small businesses. He has represented individual debtors in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. Since he is also an experienced commercial litigator and can handle lawsuits in court and can negotiate debt workouts, bankruptcy will never be offered as the first option and never as the only option. It is simply one tool in the tool box and each client’s circumstances need to be evaluated individually to determine if bankruptcy makes sense.
When you hire Lanin Law P.C., managing attorney Scott Lanin will handle your case personally. If you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney and have spoken to other firms, ask them if the attorney interviewing you in the office is the same one who will handle every aspect of your case, including court. Ask them if the attorney can help you with any other options besides bankruptcy and, if so, what is his experience.