If you are considering filing for bankruptcy you will want to choose your bankruptcy lawyer with care. Case in point, the true story of Monty and Kelly and Allen and Laura:
Monty and Kelly, husband and wife, brought a suit against Allen and Laura in state court and received a judgment for more than $850,000.00 on the grounds that Allen and Laura had committed fraud.
Allen and Laura filed for bankruptcy, and Monty and Kelly retained an attorney to represent them in the bankruptcy proceeding. Under the bankruptcy code, and more specifically, Bankruptcy Rule 4007, Monty and Kelly had to file a complaint in the bankruptcy court no later than December 29, 2010, in order to contest the discharge-ability of the debt.
Their attorney missed the deadline.
His failure meant that the claim for fraud was discharged by the bankruptcy filing. Deeply apologetic, their attorney confessed his negligence and told Monty and Kelly that he had given notice of Monty and Kelly’s claim to his malpractice insurance carrier.
Monty and Kelly waited until October 2015 to initiate malpractice litigation against their former bankruptcy attorney. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations for bringing suit against the bankruptcy lawyer was four years after Monty and Kelly had learned about his negligence. Monty and Kelly assumedthat because the claim had been forwarded to the malpractice carrier that it was not necessary that they file suit.
They were wrong.
The court ruled that they had lost their claim because they did not file it on a timely basis.
See Moshier v. Fisher, 866 Utah Adv. Rep. 11 (Utah Ct. App. 2018).
So, what can be learned from Monty and Kelly’s case?
1) Whether you have $850,000.00 or only $5000.00 involved, hire competent counsel. Monty and Kelly’s attorney should have known about this deadline, but obviously didn’t.
How do we know who is competent?
Just because an attorney does a good job selling himself for herself does not mean that the attorney is competent.
Great Idea!: We recommend that you call other attorneys in the area, who do not practice bankruptcy law and ask them to give two or three names of the best attorneys in the area who practice bankruptcy. Tell them you are looking for a referral of an attorney who can handle a difficult bankruptcy problem.
When the same names start to be mentioned by different attorneys, it is likely you have an attorney who has a good reputation amongst his or her fellow attorneys.
2) Once, you have selected one or more attorneys to interview, don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Ask the attorney how many similar cases he or she has handled before. Ask the attorney whether any of the prior cases are reported decisions. If so, as them to give a citation to the case.
3) Don’t leave the office until the attorney has given you a game plan as to how the case will be handled. If the attorney can’t give you a game plan, it is likely that the attorney is not an expert in that particular area.
4) Once you have a game plan, don’t be afraid to follow up and get assurances that the attorney is following through on the plan. No attorney likes clients who call frequently, merely to get the same response.
A lot of lawyer work is waiting for other attorneys to respond. But no attorney should resent a client calling once or twice a month asking if there are any new developments. Consider sending a periodic email to ask for updates. Most attorneys will respond to your email because it is an easy way to keep in touch.
5) The very first time you discover that your attorney is not representing you adequately or has made a mistake, immediately get advice from another attorney. It is possible that another attorney will not want to advise you while you are represented by another attorney, but at least you will know whether it is time for you to seek new representation so as to protect your interests.
There is no absolute guarantee that your attorney will never make a mistake. If, however, Monty and Kelly had followed our advice, it is unlikely that they would have suffered this result.
We at the Bankruptcy Advocates, have over 80 years of combined experience in bankruptcy law. In the bankruptcy field, there are very few issues that we have not dealt with before. Follow our advice. Call other attorneys who are not bankruptcy specialists. We are confident that they will confirm that you will be in good hands if you put your trust in us.
Southern Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney law firm Bankruptcy Advocates is located in Carbondale and serves a wide geographic community including Carbondale, Murphysboro, Marion, West Frankfort, Johnston City, Benton, Herrin, DuQuoin, and Pickneyville. We are a debt relief agency. Our southern Illinois bankruptcy attorneys help people file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code. The first consultation is always free. Give us a call at 618-549-9800 or email us at [email protected] to speak about your case or legal matter. Convenient appointment times are available.