What Questions Should I Ask Before Hiring a Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer in Dallas, Texas

Not all bankruptcy attorneys are equal in experience or expertise. If you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney, you already know that hiring the right attorney can impact the success of your case. 

However, you are most likely seeking a bankruptcy attorney due to an extreme life stressor such as the loss of a job or a loved one, a divorce or a serious illness or another change in your life which is placing your financial health at risk. Under these circumstances, you may not be able to clearly define what you are looking for or who you should ask for help. This article is designed to give you a starting point, so you know the right questions to ask, and hire the attorney that puts you at ease and gives you the best chance at success.

  1. How many years has the attorney been in practice?
    1. This is an important question because it can give you an idea as to how many cases the attorney has handled.
      1. Billy graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law in December of 1991 and became licensed by the State Bar of Texas in May of 1992. The Texas Bar Exam is given twice per year, in February and July. Since Billy graduated in December, he chose to take the February exam. The Texas Bar Exam is arduous and results from the February exam are not released until May. Billy has practiced bankruptcy law since 2000. 
      2. Megan graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law in May of 2008 and became licensed by the State bar of Texas in November of 2008. The Texas Bar Exam is given twice per year, in February and July. The Texas Bar Exam is arduous and results from the July exam are not released until November. Megan has practiced bankruptcy law since 2008. 
      3. Combined, Billy and Megan have handled over 5,000 bankruptcy cases.
  1. Is the attorney Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization? 
    1. According to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, there are more than 100,000 lawyers licensed to practice law in Texas. 
    2. However, out of 100,000 licensed Texas attorneys, only 7,350 are Board Certified.
    3. The State Bar of Texas only allows Board Certified Attorneys to represent themselves as experts. 
    4. In addition to the Texas Bar Exam, Board Certified Attorneys must have been in practice for at least 5 years and pass an exam in their field. Board Certified attorneys must also submit periodic references from peers and meet continuing legal education requirements.
    5. Furthermore, hiring a Board-Certified attorney costs the same as hiring a Non-Board-Certified attorney. 
    6. The Bankruptcy Court sets the attorney fees in a chapter 13 case. This means all attorneys must charge the same unless otherwise ordered by the Court. 
    7. Billy has been Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy since 2005.
    8. Megan has been Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy since 2014. 
  1. Is the Law Firm Accredited by the Better Business Bureau?
    1. Price and Price Law, P.C. has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  2. Who will I be meeting with during my appointments?
    1. Have you noticed that you don’t always get to see the doctor during your appointments? However, when it is time to check out, you are charged as though you met with the doctor! The fee is not discounted even though you only saw the nurse.
    2. Unfortunately, the same is true with attorneys. Although all chapter 13 attorneys must charge the same unless otherwise ordered by the Court, some law offices have clients meet with a legal assistant rather than an attorney. 
    3. At Price and Price, you will NEVER meet with a legal assistant. You will ALWAYS meet with an attorney who is Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. 
    4. Our legal assistant manages the phones, but she NEVER conducts appointments. 
  1. Who will be preparing my paperwork?
    1. An attorney will prepare your paperwork. 
    2. Even the simplest portions of your case will be prepared by an attorney.
    3. This means your case will be prepared by an attorney who is Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and not a legal assistant; and it means the attorney will be fully familiar with your case. 
    4. Since the fees in a chapter 13 case are set by the bankruptcy court, you will not pay more for this service. 
  1. How will the case be explained to me?
    1. Typically, each client has three appointments. During the initial consultation, we discuss your reasons for seeking bankruptcy protection and talk about your bankruptcy options. 
    2. If you decide that bankruptcy is right for you, you will take home some paperwork and return for a second appointment. 
    3. During your second appointment, we will review your paperwork together and answer any questions you might have. We will use your paperwork and other documents such as pay statements and tax returns to prepare your bankruptcy paperwork.
    4. You will return for a signing appointment and we will review all the documents that have been prepared. 
    5. You will ALWAYS meet with Billy or Megan and never a legal assistant.
  1. Who will accompany me to the Trustee’s Office?
    1. At Price and Price, an attorney will ALWAYS accompany you to the Trustee’s office. 
    2. Unfortunately, some bankruptcy law firms send legal assistants to accompany their clients to meetings of creditors. 
    3. Other times, an attorney the client has never met, and who is not familiar with the case, appears at the Trustee’s office. 
    4. At Price and Price, you will never see an unfamiliar attorney.
  1. Who will accompany me to Court?
    1. At Price and Price, Billy or Megan are the only attorneys who will accompany you to Court. You will never meet with an unfamiliar attorney who does not know your case. 
  1. What if I have questions as the case progresses?
    1. We have several contact methods. 
      1. Phone calls
        1. Our legal assistant oversees the phones, but if you have a more complex question, we can set a phone appointment with an attorney or make an appointment to come to the office.
      2. Email the attorney directly. Megan generally answers emails at least once per day, but often several times per day.
      3. Send us a text message. We have a texting program that saves all outgoing texts from us and incoming texts from you in your correspondence file. Please note, the texting program is a web-based program and the texting phone number differs from the main number. 
  1. How will Price and Price keep in touch with me during the case?
    1. We want you to succeed in your case and we will contact you frequently, especially in the beginning. 
      1. We will have at least three in person appointments at the office. 
      2. We will give you copies of documents in person.
      3. We will email copies of documents. 
      4. We will text you with appointment reminders, meeting of creditor reminders, court appearance reminders, and plan payment reminders.
      5. We will text you, email, or call if we have questions or need follow up.
      6. We may ask you to set additional appointments as necessary.

For many, the prospect of filing bankruptcy is frightening, and meeting with an attorney is intimidating. Most of our clients have never been to an attorney’s office before or had any involvement in a legal proceeding. Hopefully, this article has eased some of your concerns and given you some insight as to how we run our office. Please call us at 214-974-3390.     

The Initial Consultation is FREE!