Can you answer my chapter 13 bankruptcy questions? 19 Answers as of July 15, 2011

I retained an attorney on May 17, 2011 to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy for me. I paid the court filing fees on May 24, 2011 along with all required paperwork. The legal case manager filed the bankruptcy forms on June 13, 2011. I was immediately set up with a Trustee and have already began having my wages garnished to pay the attorney fees of $3000 and the Creditor for the vehicle I wanted to keep. There has been a Meeting of Creditors set for July 21, 2011, but no confirmation of bankruptcy having been approved. On June 16, 2011 two days after filing bankruptcy the creditor who has a secured interest in my vehicle, came to my house while I was at work and repossessed my vehicle. Within one hour of being notified by my children of repossession taking place I contacted the attorney's office. I left a voicemail and within a few hours received a call from the attorney's assistant. The assistant advised they would contact the creditor and get my vehicle returned because it was not going to be surrendered in the bankruptcy. As of to date July 12, 2011 my vehicle has still not been returned to me. I have contacted on numerous occasions the attorney’s office and left voicemails with only a few return calls from assistant on statues of situation, but no progress has been made. The attorney has not filed any motion to appear, motion for damages or any paperwork with the court to get my vehicle back. The attorney's assistant, not the attorney is the only person at this law firm that I have actually dealt with in regards to this situation and she has advised me that the attorney as of yesterday July 11, 2011 has e-mailed the creditor’s attorney, but is still waiting on a response on getting my vehicle returned to me. I am very unsatisfied with the lack of progress being made with this entire situation and the lack of services provided by this attorney. Can I legally fire this attorney and hire another attorney? Do I legally need to still pay the attorney’s fees?

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Law Offices of Michael J. Berger
Law Offices of Michael J. Berger | Michael J. Berger
The repossession of your vehicle after the filing of your bankruptcy was a violation of the automatic stay. If the creditor will not voluntarily return the vehicle, a Motion should be brought seeking the return of the vehicle, attorney's fees and sanctions for willful violation of the automatic stay. You have the legal right to fire your attorney at any time. If you can not get him to act on your behalf, you may want to consider replacing him.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/15/2011
Benson Law Firm
Benson Law Firm | David Benson
You can fire your attorney at any time for any reason (e.g., wearing a reprehensible necktie or using a surfeit of puns). But the attorney is entitled to be compensated for his services. What I would do if you fire your current attorney and get a new one is to ask the new attorney to settle the matter with the old attorney. You can also negotiate a fee for the new attorney based on the work that's already been done by the old attorney. In the end, you should be able to retrieve your vehicle if the auto lender was properly notified or bring a claim against the company if they've wrongfully taken your car and sold it. - B
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 7/15/2011
Law Office of J. Thomas Black, P.C.
Law Office of J. Thomas Black, P.C. | J. Thomas Black
Yes, you can always change or substitute attorneys if you wish. Yes, you can dispute your attorney's entitlement to his fees with the Court, or have your new attorney do so, if your current attorney will not agree to a reduction or elimination of his fees. In your case the creditor has violated the automatic stay by repossessing the car. If they didn't know about the filing of the bankruptcy at first, they may not have "willfully" violated such that you could recover damages from them, at least had they returned the car immediately. However, if the assistant or your attorney notified them of the bankruptcy after they repossessed the car, then by continuing to exercise control over the vehicle, they have willfully violated the stay. This can make them liable for whatever your damages are, such as loss of hours at work, car rental, taxi fares or bus passes, etc., plus whatever your attorney fees and costs are for bringing the Adversary Proceeding, plus possibly punitive damages, if allowed by the Court. Your attorney, or another attorney, can file an Adversary Proceeding in bankruptcy court, seeking an order of turnover of the vehicle, and the damages and attorney fees. We would have filed such an action unless the creditor had returned the vehicle within 2-3 days after repossessing it. Thank you,
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 7/15/2011
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
Get a new attorney now. Beware of any lawyer that turns your case over to a staff person to manage. You paid for a lawyer, not a staff person.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/15/2011
Colorado Legal Solutions
Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
You have the right to terminate your current attorney and hire new counsel. You will be required to pay your attorney for the work that they have actually done. Generally, the attorney will need to get their fees approved by the bankrutpcy court.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 7/14/2011
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr.
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr. | John J. Ferry, Jr.
    The creditor was probably in violation of the automatic stay and should not have repossessed the car while the bankruptcy was pending. Your attorney will need to act quickly to make sure the creditor knows of the bankruptcy. The creditor may be willing to return the car to avoid sanctions for violating the stay. If your attorney doesn't act quickly, the car may be sold. Yes, you can fire your attorney at any time and hire another. Whether you still owe anything to your attorney may depend on your agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Ray Fisher Law Offices
    Ray Fisher Law Offices | Ray Fisher
    You can change attorneys
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Law Office of Nanina Takla
    Law Office of Nanina Takla | Nanina Takla
    If everything was as you say, then the creditor is violating the bankruptcy stay and should have returned the vehicle once it got notice of the bankruptcy. I assume it didn't get notice of the bankruptcy before it repo'ed the vehicle. You have the right to fire your lawyer and hire another, although you should find a new lawyer first. You don't want to be going through the bankruptcy alone. The amount that you have to pay your current lawyer depends on your fee agreement and how much work he did. Even if you had a flat-fee arrangement, however, a lawyer is only entitled to that portion of their fee that they actually earned. Your current lawyer has an ethical obligation to keep you informed regarding the status of your case. good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    The best advice I can give when you already have an attorney is to make an appointment to discuss your concerns. If you no longer want to have your attorney you can fire him or her. You may still owe attorney fees but you can object to the services provided and the money charged by means of court motion. Your new attorney will do this for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    You are not getting the service you deserve. If the facts are as represented, the car should have been returned immediately or the attonrey should have been filing a motion for violation of the automatic stay. You can discharge you attorney at any time. However, many attorneys will not take on a case which has already been filed, but it is worth the shopping, and the attorney you fire can ask for fees for the work performed to date.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/14/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    While some problems may take time, it is inexcusable that the attorney is not returning calls and has not at this point done far more than an email. I would call the lawyer and tell them that you plan to file a bar complaint in 48 hours unless they actually file something to recover the vehicle. And while I would not usually suggest changing lawyers, in this case that may be a good idea. It sounds like you went to a bankruptcy mill where you never meet your lawyer and you will not get good service at most mills. And while I usually don't suggest that clients complain about their attorney at 341 meetings, you need to tell the Trustee that you have questions as to why your lawyer has done nothing to recover the car. Don't say a lot but mention it. In front of his peers you may embarrass the lawyer into action. In a case such as yours I would initially call, fax and write and give a short deadline. If the creditor ignored me, I'd file a contempt on the facts you mentioned. Bear in mind that I have not seen your pleadings and am basing my answer solely on your posting.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/14/2011
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