What You Must Know About Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney

Before consulting with a bankruptcy attorney, it will be helpful to know that there are four main types of bankruptcy: Chapters 7, 11, 12 and 13. Only two, chapters 7 and 13 are personal bankruptcy options. The remaining two forms of bankruptcy, chapters 11 and 12 and for corporations and agricultural purposes respectively.

The first step you will want to take when choosing a bankruptcy attorney in the Kansas City area is finding out the practice areas of your attorney. Some attorneys practice specifically in bankruptcy related matters. Other attorneys have a more general practice where they may cover several practice areas with bankruptcy being one of many.

Other attorneys may have a general practice but they want to try bankruptcy out because of the recent developments in the economy. If this is the case and the attorney is a solo-practitioner, you will want to make sure that you ask if the attorney has a reference source by which he or she is able to get help concerning the things he or she may not know. The practice of bankruptcy law is extremely intricate and sometimes the slightest mistake can be the difference between whether the debtor receives a discharge or a dismissed case.

The next thing a potential debtor will want to know is which type of bankruptcy law the attorney practices. Again, there are some attorneys who concentrate specifically on chapter 7 bankruptcy work. Those attorneys may choose to concentrate on chapter 7 work because it is less complicated than the chapter 13 work. Generally, chapter 7 debtors will not have substantial assets and they are procedurally less tenuous than a chapter 13. This does not mean that there are Kansas City Bankruptcy attorneys, who concentrate on Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, who take chapter 13 cases.

Another valuable piece of information that a potential bankruptcy debtor will want to discover is whether the attorney will appear with the debtor at the meeting of creditors. Once the paper work has been completed and the documents have been filed with the Bankruptcy Court, the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri will schedule what is called a 341 meeting.

This meeting is also referred to as “The First Meeting of Creditors.” It will be the first opportunity for the debtor to meet with the bankruptcy trustee and to confront any creditors who may want to prevent the bankruptcy from occurring. The attorney may not be privy to anyone wanting to challenge the discharge of the debtor before the meeting of creditors.

If the debtor’s attorney is not able to appear at the meeting of creditors, a replacement attorney will need to be selected. The debtor not having an attorney is generally not a good idea because the trustee may want certain documents sent to the trustee’s office within a short period of time or the trustee may have more specific questions that the debtor may not be able to answer.

If this were to happen, the debtor would need an attorney there who has a copy of the bankruptcy petition. Generally when a debtor attempts to conduct a meeting of creditors without the presence of an attorney, the debtor will not have all the information to adequately satisfy the inquiries of the trustee.

The next thing that a potential debtor will want to know when potentially choosing a Kansas City bankruptcy attorney is what is included in the attorney fee. This may vary from attorney to attorney. Generally, the attorney fee will be a flat fee that will include the bankruptcy petition filing fee. Currently, this fee is $300. However, the list of attorney duties could vary. Some attorneys will cover everything from start to finish with the fee that is paid.

Other attorneys may charge an additional fee if the petition has to be amended or if the trustee requires meetings outside of the meeting of creditors. Generally these fees will be covered in the contract for legal representation. If they are not, the potential debtor will want to discuss these issues with the potential Kansas City bankruptcy attorney.

These are a few things that a potential debtor will want to investigate when choosing a Kansas City bankruptcy attorney. The choice of an attorney is an important one and it should not be based solely on advertisement alone.

Ask These 5 Questions When Choosing a RESPA Real Estate Attorney

“What the heck is RESPA?”

Many attorneys try to handle real estate matters in addition to their regular practice. Very few lawyers are aware of the complexities of the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA) enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.)

RESPA statutes are consumer protection laws that impact virtually all single family to four family homes. RESPA compliance issues and the remedies available to borrowers who have been victimized by unscrupulous mortgage lenders, title companies and other real estate settlement providers are a real challenge. Even for full-time real estate attorneys, RESPA is a very complex statute. You must be careful and ask questions of the attorney you choose in order to make sure you get the proper legal protection that the RESPA statute i is designed to accomplish. Consumers and Businesses alike are protected when RESPA is in compliance.

Question #1

“What RESPA experience do you have?”

No doubt about it. Start with the big one. Real estate laws and regulations are complicated enough without adding RESPA to the equation. Have they prepared marketing agreements that comply? Have they attended RESPA specific training courses and seminars? Have they kept abreast of the most recent HUD guidelines and court cases nationally regarding RESPA? How many RESPA cases and clients have they handled? What types of RESPA cases did they handle? Were the issues similar to yours? What were their results? Don’t be shy!

Question # 2

“What type of reputation does the attorney have?”

This is a tough one to figure out – so do your homework! Is the attorney primarily a transaction attorney or a litigator skilled in courtroom procedures if necessary? Your attorney must have the communication skills necessary to work with the other attorney as well as you. The other attorney, if more knowledgeable on RESPA can run over you and your lawyer. Remember that many cases are won or lost on the attorney’s knowledge and high ethical standards. Check the local Bar association for background. Get references and check them out thoroughly.

Question # 3

“What type of resources does the attorney have?”

No attorney can do everything well. Make sure that your attorney has the resources available to work your case efficiently. Does the attorney have a well established network of experts and fellow attorneys who can network with to add value and expertise to your problem? Some attorneys try to do it all and act as a one man band. Your attorney’s ego should not be larger than your case. A good attorney quickly involves others with higher degrees of expertise in areas where it is needed to represent you properly. The experts they use are a reflection of your new attorney.

Question # 4

“What about communications and follow up?”

The hallmark of a good attorney is the degree of communication he has with his clients. If you have to ask “What’s going on with my case?” then you have a problem. You don’t want to have these types of issues after choosing an attorney. Be blunt and ask how often you will be contacted and updated. How will you be contacted? Will the attorney just send you a form letter or use personal communication and contact? How do you prefer to be contacted? E-mail, phone calls, letters? Ask for it. “Are you too busy to handle me? Are you going to push me to a lower level staffer or junior attorney?” Clear communication and updates can ensure success and results.

Question # 5

“How do they charge?”

Some attorneys charge a flat fee, some charge a contingency based upon results and some charge hourly rates. The type of problem or case generally dictates the type of charge. There is an old saying, “Speed, Efficiency and Price – pick TWO!” The cheapest attorney may not be the best and the most expensive attorney may not be the best either! Make sure that you are not penny wise and dollar foolish. You are choosing an attorney for results. Make sure that your attorney has the financial incentive to work your case efficiently and successfully.

Attorney Videos in Today’s Marketplace

The increase of home personal computers, Internet, and new technology is providing a lawyer with a way to connect effectively with the public. How can an attorney take advantage of this new Internet marketing tool? The lawyer can have an attorney videos created specifically related to his legal practice. The advantage of attorney videos allows web page visitors to achieve better understanding by being able to hear and see a presentation about the attorney practice instead of reading the information.

This is the preferred way of most Internet users, and 99% of users have the ability to view these videos. Future clients can access the videos seeking legal information and may choose the lawyer to represent them with their legal issue. Attorney videos allow the lawyer a chance to showcase his legal skills, knowledge, and his courtroom presence. Then he can have his attorney videos place on his Web page to market his legal practice to the public, and reach a target group of potential clients. In today’s market place and bad economy the attorney can use his videos to expand his client base allowing for the attorney maintain a profitable practice.

Some benefits of attorney videos are:

1) Increases visibility in customer’s geographic area, and area of the attorney’s practice.
2) Increase credibility with current clients, and potential clients.
3) Brings qualified new clients seeking an attorney who will meet their legal needs.
4) Minimize time lost talking with people whose legal issues doesn’t match the type of law the attorney handles, and clients not ready to hire the attorney.

Is creating attorney videos something the attorney can do himself? Attorney videos need to be effective, and provide a positive first impression of the attorney’s law firm. Plus the attorney’s Web page needs to well design like the lobby in the attorney’s office to convey the attorney’s unique professional image to possible clients.

The attorney would be wise to hire a professional video producing company who specialize in creating attorney videos. The professional should be highly experience, and showcase the attorney’s image as positive, helpful, caring, and successful. It’s very important that the attorney videos are effective and flexibility so the attorney can use the videos for other business applications.

Some new technology that will increase the effectiveness of the attorney videos are:

1) Flash which provides an element of motion and sophistication. Plus it allows for the attorney to advertise a key page, or section within the website.

2) Cascading menus provide easy navigation of the website allowing the viewer to go from the home page to anywhere on the website with a simple mouse click.

3) On-site search engine giving the ability for prospects and clients to search by topics without leaving the website. Plus the on-site search engine increases the website usability and provides a positive user experience.

4) Streaming media (audio/video) will engage potential clients and reinforce the marketing message, and provide education, news about the firm’s legal practice, and introduce the attorney giving him a personal connection with online visitors.

5) Control access a security major that protects the website by requiring a password that only existing clients have or known individuals approve to access protected information. When a visitor comes to the website they must submit their name and E-mail address.