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50 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Bankruptcy Attorney

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: October 2, 2017

As though filing for bankruptcy isn't stressful enough, you're further challenged with finding a competent bankruptcy attorney you can trust. Naturally, it can be overwhelming, but it need not be difficult. It will most likely be a totally unfamiliar process and can be confusing and stressful. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

Take this opportunity to meet with multiple attorneys and ask the kind of questions that will help you choose the right one. The toughest task is knowing what to ask of a potential bankruptcy attorney, but even that is made simple with this handy list. The specifics of your case, financial situation and personality are unique, so judging an attorney's answers to many of these questions will be subjective. Others are pretty straightforward, implying a definitive yes or no. A few of the questions, though, are a little more complicated, for which brief explanations follow.

Questions to Determine Background and Experience

1. How Long Have You Been Practicing Bankruptcy Law?

2. How Long Have You Been With This Particular Firm?

3. What Percentage of Your Practice is Devoted to Bankruptcy Law?

4. What Percentage of Your Practice has Been Focused on Bankruptcy Since the New Laws Went Into Effect in 2005?

5. How Many Bankruptcy Cases Have You Completed Since 2005?

6. On Average, How Many Bankruptcy Cases Do You Handle Per Month?

7. What Percentage of your Bankruptcy Clients are Debtors and What Percentage are Creditors?

8. What Percentage of Your Bankruptcy Clients are Individuals vs. Businesses?

9. How Many of the Bankruptcy Cases You Have Handled Were Moved for Dismissal for Abuse by the U.S. Trustees?

10. What Sort of Relationship do You Have With People in the Court System?

11. Do You Know the People Evaluating my Case?

12. Do You Know the Local Bankruptcy Judges?

13. Do You Know the Local Chapter 7 Trustees?

14. Do You Know the Local Chapter 23 Trustee?

15. Do You Know the United States Trustee in Your Area?

16. Have You Ever Received an Ethics Disciplinary Complaint?

17. Do You Have Malpractice Insurance?

18. Have You Ever Been Sued for Malpractice?

19. Are You a Member of Any Voluntary Bankruptcy Bar Groups?

20. How is Your Bankruptcy Practice Different From Your Competition?

21. Can I Have the Names and Contact Info for Previous Clients Whose Bankruptcy Cases Were Similar to Mine?

Cost of Bankruptcy Attorney Services

22. What Type of Costs Can I Expect in my Bankruptcy Case?

23. What Fees am I Expected to Pay You, and What do Those Fees Cover?

24. What is Your Retainer Fee and is it Refundable?

25. Do You Use a Written Fee Agreement?

26. Do You Have Options for Payment Plans?

27. How do You Expect to be Paid?

28. Have You Ever Gone to Arbitration or Court Over Your Fees?

Determining the Particulars of Your Case

29. Why or Why Not is Bankruptcy a Good Idea for me, Based on my Unique Situation?

30. What Other Options are Available to me Other Than Bankruptcy?

31. After Reviewing my Case, What do you See as Some Potential Challenges that Could Arise?

32. How Will Bankruptcy Hurt Me?

33. How Will Bankruptcy Help Me?

34. Which of my Debts Can I Expect to be Discharged Through Bankruptcy?

35. Which of my Debts Will Probably Not be Discharged Through Bankruptcy?

36. What Will be Your Gameplan if You Were to Proceed with my Case?

37. Will you be Doing all the Work on my Case, or Will you Assign it to Someone Else?

38. Will you be my Main Point of Contact for Updates, Questions, or Concerns Regarding my Case?

39. How Many People on your Staff Will be Working on my Case?

40. Who Will Accompany me in Court?

41. How Often Will you Keep me Updated About the Progression of my Case?

42. What will be Your Primary Mode of Contact?

43. What are my Responsibilities, as the Client, in Helping to Strengthen my Case?

44. What Information do I Need to Provide you, Now and Throughout the Bankruptcy Process?

45. What Should I do/Not do Before my Bankruptcy Case is Completed?

46. How Long Before I Can Expect my Case to be Resolved?

Post Bankruptcy Procedures

47. How Will my Credit Score be Impacted by a Bankruptcy Filing?

48. Will Filing Bankruptcy Affect my Ability to Get a Job?

49. How May my Spouse's Personal Property and Credit be Affected by my Bankruptcy? (if not filing jointly)

50. What Sort of Follow-Up Support do You Offer Your Clients?

Though it is not necessary you ask these questions word-for-word, this list is at least a good place to start. Make notes from it or simply print out the entire list and take it in with you to the initial consultation. If you sense any hesitancy or judgment on the part of the attorney in response to these questions, move on. Any reputable bankruptcy attorney worth his salt should be ready and willing to answer any questions you may have in order to win your business. You may be at the mercy of the judge in the courtroom, but in the client-attorney relationship, you are the boss.

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