How to Find a Great Bankruptcy Attorney in San Jose

Finding a Great Bankruptcy Attorney in San JoseIf you’re struggling with debt that you cannot afford to pay, whether it’s a mortgage payment greater than one third your monthly income, high credit card balances, a home equity line from a foreclosed property, medical bills, or whatever the source, you are most likely being bombarded by collection bullies who lie and browbeat you and try to make you feel like an irresponsible person. Add to that the barrage of tv commercials from debt consolidation outfits who further try to steer you into paying more than you can afford by painting personal bankruptcy in a bad light, as though it were not a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8). The last thing you want, once you do decide to explore bankruptcy options, is to meet an inexperienced or unsympathetic bankruptcy lawyer who makes you feel like a bad person.

Interviewing a bankruptcy lawyer may sound about as much fun as a colonoscopy. Call me an idealist if you like, but I believe meeting with a bankruptcy attorney should be an uplifting experience. Since I offer more than five hundred free bankruptcy consultations every year, I don’t think I can be fairly accused of naïveté in this regard.

First and foremost, a first meeting with a bankruptcy attorney should be entirely free and without any obligation that you hire him or her. And that consultation should be with a practicing bankruptcy attorney, not a paralegal or support staff. You’re seeking legal advice after all. If the bankruptcy law firm can’t promise you an absolutely free consultation with an attorney, don’t bother making an appointment with them.

Second, the consultation should be educational. There is no reason why you should know the differences between Chapter 7, 11, 12, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy going in. But you should understand the difference when you walk out of the meeting. The bankruptcy attorney should explain in plain terms how eligibility for the different chapters of bankruptcy works, what they accomplish, and how they treat different types of debt, such as home mortgages, car loans, taxes, judgments, and unsecured credit cards. The bankruptcy attorney should likewise carefully review your monthly income and expenses, as well as your assets, and give you at least his or her initial impressions of whether you will qualify for bankruptcy, and which chapter will be most appropriate given your income, expenses, debts, and assets. The attorney should give you a clear idea of how a Chapter 13 payment plan works, and provide you with a thorough explanation of how assets are treated in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and detail the available California exemptions to protect debtor assets in bankruptcy.

I know that the majority of consumer bankruptcy attorneys in San Jose and the Bay Area will offer a free initial consultation for nearly anyone, but I also know that most such consultations run twenty minutes or perhaps half an hour. I frankly have no idea how anyone can thoroughly explain consumer bankruptcy law, the various chapters, eligibility, and describe how assets and debts are treated in each in half an hour. Much less provide an earnest review of the prospective client’s actual numbers and offer any reasonable idea of which chapter will be best for him or her. I can’t do this in half an hour, so I don’t. Because our firm is not a bankruptcy mill, my initial consultations routinely run a full hour, and for many folks to whom I give an hour of my time and my best explanation, it turns out that none of the chapters of bankruptcy are appropriate or in their best interests. Sometimes they simply decide not to hire us, and that’s okay too. I don’t intend to shorten my free consultations or give short shrift to anyone earnestly seeking bankruptcy advice in the Bay Area.

Finally, a consumer bankruptcy attorney should make you feel hopeful, not discouraged. My clients are to a person, decent human beings who deserve respect. They need debt relief because despite their efforts, they cannot afford to pay all their debts. We are all debtors at some point, and that is not a bad word. Neither is bankruptcy. Our bankruptcy attorneys have chosen this area of practice in order to help David not Goliath. If you are seeking bankruptcy advice in San Jose or the greater Bay Area, call us for a free consultation. Then see another attorney if you like. We think you’ll appreciate our approach.

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