Top 5 Questions to Ask a Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney Before Hiring Him or Her....And Our Answers!
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Michigan you may be wondering how to find the best bankruptcy attorney to help you through the process. What questions should you ask and how should you evaluate the firm's professionalism. It may feel like a daunting process. Here are the top 5 questions we feel are important to ask and why. Of course we are giving you our responses too! If you have further questions, add them to the list. Approach the attorney interview with written questions so you can take notes which may aid your decision making process. Our firm offers free consultations to discuss your best debt resolution options. We welcome your questions. Call us today at 866-261-8282 to schedule a time to speak to the attorney over the phone or in person at any of our seven Michigan locations: Detroit, Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint, Southfield, Lansing and Warren.
Top 5 Questions to Ask a Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney:
1.) How long have you practiced bankruptcy law and how long has your firm been in existence? Importance: Bankruptcy is considered to be a "specialty" area of the law - especially when administering a Chapter 13 Reorganization which requires specific knowledge and application of the governing Federal code. The Michigan code of ethics requires attorneys to "apprentice" under an experienced attorney in a new area of law before taking on solo cases. Unfortunately, many young attorneys chose not to work with and experienced firm or are unable to be hired by one, chose to go it alone. Far too often we get calls from people needing our assistance to step in where another attorney or firm has failed to perform. Know up front that your attorney is qualified to handle your case with practical experience and a proven track record. Choosing a more established firm typically means that you are hiring increased experience, an established office process for handling cases and the stability that comes only with time. Our Response: The only type of law we practice is debt resolution through: Chapter 13, Chapter 7 or Debt Settlement. We have never dabbled in any other area of law. We only represent bankruptcy filers. Our loyalties are strictly to our clients and we wish no conflicts to that end. We have five Michigan bankruptcy attorneys at the firm that share over 50 years of combined legal experience. Acclaim Legal Services was established over a decade ago in 2003. William Johnson, the owner of the firm has been practicing Bankruptcy Law for nearly twenty years. 2.) Do you file all types of consumer bankruptcy and do your offer non-bankruptcy solutions? Importance: This is very critical. As mentioned above, Chapter 13 is a more complex process that requires a more specialized knowledge of the law and frequent updates and training. Many attorneys who dabble in bankruptcy really only understand the Chapter 7 process. This can be dangerous for potential clients, as that attorney may not be able to provide proper counseling on all available debt resolution options. These attorneys may be prone to a "one size fits all solution." Offering non-bankruptcy solutions for debt resolution just indicates that you have more options available to find the debt relief that you seek if bankruptcy is not appropriate for your unique circumstances. Our Response: We exclusively file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. We have an intimate knowledge of both programs after having administered over 12,000 cases in the past decade. We also offer debt settlement as a non-bankruptcy option if the circumstances warrant. 3.) What are your licenses, certifications and professional affiliations? Do you have positive client reviews? Importance: Dealing with a licensed Michigan attorney that is well-rooted in the bankruptcy community gives you peace of mind this firm is well-equipped to handle your case. Presenting positive client reviews ensures that others have been satisfied with the services and process. Our Response: Because bankruptcy is our specialty we have a commitment to ongoing legal education for our attorneys. To stay current on bankruptcy law and emerging trends, all of our attorneys attend seminars, participate in local Trustee meetings or Judge's panels and are even asked to speak at national conferences. Our credentials and affiliations include:
- Member, State Bar of Michigan
- Member, Federal Bar Association
- Member, American Bar Association
- Member, American Bankruptcy Institute
- Member, Consumer Bar Association
- Member of United Way's Michigan Foreclosure Task Force: Foreclosure Prevention & Stabilization Collaborative
- 2013 Super Lawyers Rising Star
- Member, Legal Shield (formally known as Pre-Paid Legal)
- Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist certified by the American Board of Certification.
- Member, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)
- Member, Institute for Continuing Legal Education
We provide real-life bankruptcy stories that provide an honest portrayal of the process and what it is like to work with our firm. View these reviews on our "Testimonials" page. 4.) What is the success rate for case completion for your clients? Importance: Is the attorney or firm able to get the best end-result for the client? Did they file the proper type of case and utilize all available financial tools within those different types of bankruptcy options. Example questions we consider when evaluating a client's circumstances:
- Were all available exemptions in place for a Chapter 7 client to ensure personal property is protected?
- Even if a client qualifies for debt elimination under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, are there better tools for his or her circumstances by filing Chapter 13 reorganization such as removing a second mortgage or home equity loan, reducing a car payment with a high interest rate, etc.
Our Response: Our strategy is to thoroughly review a client's circumstances prior to filing, understand the long term financial goals and recommend the best avenue for short and long term success. Next we ensure that we put together the necessary paperwork with complete accuracy. Errors can be costly and irreparable. All of our bankruptcy petitions are generated by licensed Michigan attorneys, not petition preparers or support staff. 5.) What is your attorney and staffing ratio? Importance: Having an attorney you can get a hold of is central to a positive customer service experience. Having proper support staff to ensure timely administration of your case is essential. If a firm doesn't invest in a support team, it may mean that your case doesn't get the attention it deserves or you don't achieve the results you would like. Our Response: We have team of five attorneys and eight support staff that all work together for the betterment of our clients. Beyond our convenient evening and weekend hours, we have an office cell phone available to clients for emergencies. For the last decade, we have assigned specific attorneys to each of the judge's court dockets. Each attorney has an experienced paralegal assigned to him or her to provide customer support and case administration. This long term relationship between the attorney and paralegal means a solid base of teamwork and knowledge of the Judge's ruling and Trustee preferences. In this case, experience really does count. We Welcome Your Questions! The invitation is there - we welcome your questions and a visit to our office to meet with one of our attorneys. To understand their education and credentials, visit our "Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney Profiles" page. Call today at 866-261-8282 to speak to an attorney or schedule your free consultation online.