If you are considering bankruptcy, your finances are probably already very tight, so paying for a bankruptcy attorney can seem almost counter intuitive–after all,if you had the money to pay for a lawyer, you would not need a bankruptcy, right? Why should you hire one then? If you are filing for personal bankruptcy (as opposed to a bankruptcy for a business that you own) you don’t need to have a lawyer, you can file for bankruptcy on your own. It is not impossible to do, and people have successfully done it before. However, if you are going to file for bankruptcy on your own, you need to make sure you know what you are doing. This means that you will have to spend some time learning how the process works, and what specific steps you need to take to successfully navigate through bankruptcy.
The relative complexity of a bankruptcy will differ depending on whether it is a Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 11 bankruptcy (chapter 7 cases tend to be simpler than the other two), and the type of assets and debts you have. Still, bankruptcy by its nature is a complicated process, where a small mistake can have significant negative consequences. For example, not completing the required credit counseling before filing will cause your case to be dismissed. As another example, if you have non-exempt property that you don’t realize is non-exempt, you may lose that property in bankruptcy. If you are not willing or able to dedicate the time and resources necessary to learn how bankruptcy works, you are better off hiring a lawyer.
Moreover, a lawyer can usually suggest strategies for protecting your assets or eliminating debt that you would not think of on your own. The need for a good bankruptcy lawyer also increases if you are filing under Chapter 13 or Chapter 11, as these types of bankruptcy are usually too complex for a non-lawyer to handle on his/her own. Ultimately, the cost of hiring a lawyer is very small compared to the amount of debt most people discharge through bankruptcy.
That being said, if you are going to hire a lawyer, you should consult with several, and choose the one with whom you feel the most comfortable–afterall, you will be dealing with your lawyer for several months to several years, depending on the case.