Most people are aware of the concept of attorney-client confidentiality. During the bankruptcy process, clients and attorneys develop a surprisingly personal relationship. After all, clients will be divulging a complete disclosure about their financial life, and a good bankruptcy attorney will be empathetic and understanding.

While money is only one aspect of your life, there is no denying that financial stress can cause problems for an individual and their loved ones and family. When someone is considering bankruptcy, it generally indicates that they have already been through many battles – unpleasant conversations with creditors, fights with spouses, and many sleepless nights are common. This time is overwhelming and emotional. The empathy required to honestly help people find solutions draws attorneys who take great satisfaction in this type of work. When coupled with expertise and experience, these strong but kind personalities can easily create solid relationships with the people who come to them for help.

Individuals who file bankruptcy are required to disclose a significant amount of personal information. This includes the obvious items, such as assets and income, as well as more subtle items. These may consist of personal loans that your family expects you to pay back, the money you may receive from a friend for odd jobs, or explanations for your recent expenditures. Divulging such information can feel unnecessary and even invasive, but it is necessary to access the bankruptcy code’s potent relief.  It is easy for individuals to feel a bit vulnerable, and the process is much easier when there is a trusting relationship between attorney and client. When a good rapport exists, full disclosure of your financial situation will result in proper reporting and a more effective strategy for debt relief. 

Many capable Sarasota bankruptcy attorneys can assist you in navigating the bankruptcy process. However, those considering bankruptcy should interview and find an attorney with whom they feel comfortable – after all, they will shortly be hearing all of your personal financial secrets. It would be a mistake to ignore the emotional side of the process you are embarking on. A competent bankruptcy attorney should be interested in assisting you, be invested in your success, express understanding for what you are going through, and help you to dream beyond bankruptcy to your new life. They aren’t simply concerned with the bankruptcy process but will make sure you can move forward with knowledge and confidence – as well as the right tools.

Practical Tips for Choosing an Attorney 

There are many things to notice and consider when looking to hire the right bankruptcy attorney. Some are obvious – such as how long it takes for them to respond to your phone call. But there are other considerations.

Understand your access: Many attorneys will meet with you for the initial consultation. However, they may then refer to their assistant for the majority of the steps after that. A team of people is not necessarily a bad thing – but you should meet and talk to everyone with who you will be dealing and sharing information with. You also want to understand how easy it will be to contact the attorney directly and what that process is in place for such communication. 

Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions: You should spend some time thinking of what you would like to know about your attorney. How many bankruptcies of this type have you filed for clients? Did you ever have a horrible experience? Have you ever filed for bankruptcy personally in the past? An empathetic attorney will not take any question personally. Instead, they will take the opportunity to allow you to get to know them as well.

Pay attention to communication style: Does the attorney seem rushed and distracted, or do they maintain eye contact and listen to your questions and concerns? Do they seem genuinely invested in learning about your individual situation, or do you feel that you will be pushed into a “one size fits all” strategy? If you do not feel their empathy during the initial consultation, things may get uncomfortable later on. Ultimately, once you have found an experienced and competent bankruptcy attorney, you’ll need to trust your gut and intuition as to if it is the right fit for you. 

Richard V. Ellis is a Sarasota bankruptcy attorney and family law attorney, dedicated to leading his clients through challenging personal situations and helping them move forward.