I met with potential client recently who had filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy with another attorney. That attorney only handled Chapter 7 cases. Rather than refer this client to a State Bar Certified Bankruptcy Specialist with the expertise to handle both chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases, this attorney filed what worked best for him, to the detriment of the client. The chapter 7 bankruptcy did not provide the client the legal relief the client needed. Now, the potential client must pay to file a second bankruptcy case, the client will have two bankruptcies on their credit report, and is no longer eligible for a discharge in the second case. Not only was the client harmed financially, but the client lost valuable legal remedies.
This should serve as a warning. If an attorney claims to only represent clients in chapter 7 bankruptcy matters, that should be a red flag that he or she may lack the experience to properly evaluate the case and give sound legal advice. An attorney owes a duty to the client to perform competently, including referring the client to a competent attorney when he lacks the expertise necessary to represent the client. Bankruptcy is a complex area of law with many traps for the inexperienced. It’s not about filling out forms. Most qualified attorneys offer a free consultation. Take the time to meet with several attorneys, to check references, and use the Certified Specialist link at the State Bar to find a Bankruptcy Specialist in your area: