Why do bankruptcy fees vary? 22 Answers as of June 07, 2011

Why are the bankruptcy attorney fees so high in one city as compared to the $499 costs in another?

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Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
Each state is different, there are different exemptions and different amounts that are considered routine. Attorneys normally charge based on their experience, the complexity of your case, and how much time it is going to take for them to complete your matter.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 6/7/2011
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
They not only vary from city to city, but within each city. There are a lot of reasons for the difference. The primary one is quality of service and experience of the attorney. There is a recent glut of new attorneys who, for some reason, think that bankruptcy law is THE area to practice right now. Most of them dilute their practice by handling other areas of law as well. Attorneys who charge low fees for bankruptcy by necessity are running a high-volume, low service practice. This translates into less personal service and, often, mistakes and failure to anticipate problems that would not happen with a more experienced attorney who isn't trying to get another 100 more clients in the door that week. Bankruptcy law is one of the most complicated and difficult areas of law that there is. Attorneys without proper experience trying to handle a bankruptcy case are like a dentist trying to do brain surgery. It is very important before selecting a bankruptcy attorney that you examine their credentials. How long have they been practicing bankruptcy law? Do they practice anything else, or do they specialize in bankruptcy? How are they thought of by their peers others? (you can check this on independent rating sites) Undoubtedly, fees are an important consideration for someone filing bankruptcy. But they should not be the primary consideration. Just like you wouldn't want the cheapest doctor you can find to remove your appendix, you don't want the cheapest, newbie bankruptcy attorney playing games with your financial future. There's simply too much at risk and too many things that can go wrong.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/6/2011
Law Offices of Michael T. Krueger
Law Offices of Michael T. Krueger | Michael Krueger
With any service provider there will be variations in fee structures. The bankruptcy fees that the court charges are set. In California, a chapter 13 is $274 and a Chapter 7 is $299. Make sure that the bankruptcy agency providing service is actually an attorney. There are agencies that are not attorneys, but these are companies that assist a debtor filing bankruptcy. These agencies cannot represent a debtor in a adversary proceeding. Also, you should ask the bankruptcy service provider who will actually be working on your case; will it be a paralegal, law student, law clerk or an actual bankruptcy attorney? In the San Francisco area where I practice, the rates for a quality bankruptcy attorney range from $1500-$3000 depending on complexity of a chapter 7 case. Chapter 13 cases are regulated by each district and cannot exceed those caps unless the attorney petitions the court.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/6/2011
Dearbonn Law Offices
Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
This depends on the city and state where the attorneys practice. for instance, Bankruptcy fees are higher in California than in WA. It also depends on for how long the attorney has been in practice.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/6/2011
The Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm
The Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm | Thomas A McAvity
Like anything else, the rules of supply and demand apply to the price of bankruptcy. I would steer clear of any bankruptcy attorney willing to do your case for $499.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/6/2011
    Law Office of Harry L Styron
    Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
    I doubt that you will find an attorney who will do a bankruptcy for $499. If you do, that attorney is not giving your matter the attention that the bankruptcy court requires. That is the rate for a document preparer, and is very expensive for that. The bankruptcy court has a notice on the wall that says if you pay more than $150 for the preparation of a petition by a non-attorney, you have paid too much. But attorneys fees vary for the same reasons that the price of gasoline varies from place to place. It is a lot more expensive to rent space in San Francisco than in Modesto, and salaries of staff, the cost of paper, and everything else varies in just the same way. Since an attorney has to pay for all of that out of the fees he or she collects, the fees will vary.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    Some cities have higher cost of living than others, for one thing. Some lawyers are coming out of law school with no employment offers and are setting up practices without experience and trying to undercut others. Some lawyers run "mills," where paralegals and clerks handle everything and they run a quick, minimum-contact process. Others have experience enough to understand that bankruptcy is very complicated and never the same for two people; it can take time and skill to handle a bankruptcy properly and lawyers are correct to charge according to the service they provide. "You get what you pay for" applies as much to lawyers as to anything else.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin
    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin | Jared B. Gaynor
    It all depends on the market, how experienced the attorney is, and how difficult your case is. I, for one, have never seen a case that any attorney could do for $499 and not lost money on his or her time. Additionally, you need to make sure that you are actually getting an attorney, and not just a document preparation service.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Uriarte & Wood, Attorneys at Law
    Uriarte & Wood, Attorneys at Law | Robert G. Uriarte
    You get what you pay for. At $499.00 I doubt that you will ever speak with an attorney and have a non lawyer assisting you. Make sure you understand exactly what the firm or attorney includes in their fee. Good Luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    A bankruptcy attorney offers a service and that service is driven by market forces just the same as any other service or product. Some things that can affect a fee in a particular region or even a particular law office range from nuances in local practice that may make a case more complex to some offices having higher salaries, overhead, advertising, etc. to pay for. Your big city tv bankruptcy attorney is likely to be the highest charge of all in many cases.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    Better check out the $499.00 fee. You can expect that that there are "added" fees to that.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law
    Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law | Lillian Suelzle Watson
    Attorneys charge a fee for their time and expenses in preparing and filing bankruptcy schedules. They are a business and have salaries to pay for support staff, telephone and other utilities and rent. In some areas, they may have little overhead. In others, it may be a "loss" for them to take bankruptcy cases. Like any business it will vary. The fee for the court is $299.00. Then there are two classes that have to be taken with range from $30 - 50 and a credit report. The ad you saw for $499 may not have been a lawyer but a paralegal who cannot give you bankruptcy advice. I am positive it does not include the out of pocket costs. Bankruptcy can be done for the wrong reasons or at a bad time which could cost you in the long run. Would you get the least expensive doctor to remove your tonsils or fix your bad back? Probably not. Really handling your financial troubles should be given to a lawyer who can explain the process, handle it correctly and assist you throughout. Give is a call. Our initial consultation is free.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc.
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
    There are no 2 bk cases that are exactly the same. There are always different issues that could make a case more difficult. I generally have a range of potential fees I would charge depending on difficulty. For example if you have a home and car payments that you want to keep this could increase the fee. Also if you have a high or above median income this could cause your fee to be higher. A bankruptcy filing is not something to be taken lightly. It is a court proceeding that involves courtrooms and legal issues that can seriously effect the outcome of your case. Your bankruptcy paperwork is a 60 page document that must accurately reflect your past current and future financial situation. My advice to you is to schedule a face to face consultation with a local bk attorney. I would not fall for internet ads that indicate cheap prices. If an ad indicates that you can file bk for 499 I would be very skeptical.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Benson Law Firm
    Benson Law Firm | David Benson
    Sometimes, it has to do with the particular requirements of the court and trustee in the local jurisdiction. In some areas, more is required of the lawyer to successfully prosecute a case. Also, I've seen some law practices that operate more like factories with paralegals and support staff doing most of the work. It may also have to do with how experienced the attorney is. Some lawyers straight out of law school are looking to cut their teeth on new clients and will compete on price.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    Probably for the same reason a house in Boston costs a lot more than one in Enid, Oklahoma. Cost of living is different everywhere.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Symmes Law Group, PLLC
    Symmes Law Group, PLLC | Richard James Symmes
    Bankruptcy fees can vary by attorney due to several factors including but not limited to an attorneys experience, overhead to run a law firm, complexity of a case, competitiveness and cost of living in a certain market. Filing a bankruptcy should cost much more than $499 as an attorneys skill, training and time should not be taken for granted. It Is always to wise to hire a bankruptcy attorney based on your feel for the attorney rather than the price they charge.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    There is a variation depending on the case and also some lawyers charge more than others for many different reasons (like length of experience, reputation, personal attention to the case or simply because the lawyer thinks his/her time is worth more than other lawyers). A fee of $499 is not realistic and unlikely to be enough for representation by an experienced attorney. You need to speak with the attorney and find out about his/her experience and education. Make sure that he or she will be there with you at the meeting of creditors and will not send a stand by attorney that will most likely know nothing about your case. Find out who is going to be your lawyer and make sure you speak with the person face to face and ask all the questions you might have. Be careful with any one that tells you that your case will be $499. The fact alone that they are quoting $499 instead of $500 is enough to be careful since a professional service is not like buying a hamburger for $4.99. Would you go to a doctor that charges $49 for a physical examination? The cost of the attorney's fee is one of many things you need to consider before hiring someone on such an important and dangerous matter as a bankruptcy case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    Sometimes chapter 13 fees are set by guidelines established by judges. For instance this is the way it is done in the Northern District of California. Attorneys are allowed to charge less if they choose. In chapter 11 the typical retainer fee for a small case is about $20,000. Most chapter 7 case are charged about$2000 in the local area. Various factors determine the amount of the fee. Sometimes it is typical to talk to a "fee shopper." The reputation of the attorney, not the fee charged is probably the most important consideration.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Sweeney Law Offices, P.L.L.C.
    Sweeney Law Offices, P.L.L.C. | Jesse Sweeney
    Supply and demand, I assume.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    You are asking a question which isn't exactly answerable, however I would imagine that any firm offering a bankruptcy for $499 will not be representing you at any hearing or trial and that you likely aren't actually working with an attorney, but rather a legal secretary or paralegal, both of whom should not be doing this work absence working for a properly licensed attorney. In the end, you get what you pay for. An experienced and qualified attorney will cost you more, but the benefit of using such an attorney are well worth it. If you are in my area and are looking for an attorney, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    Different lawyers, experience, levels of service and knowledge, some lawyers have more overhead than others.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    No attorney today could do a competent job for $499. If you see someone at that rate, run from them. The simplest bankruptcy involves many hours of preparation and 50-100 pages of filings, plus a hearing. On the low end, good attorneys won't go below about $900. Many charge more. Fees can vary by experience and also by what local courts allow, and other factors. Also some cases are more complex than others. The cheapest fee is not a bargain if your case is botched. That is not to say that you should overpay. But look for experience and personal service. (My fee starts at $950).
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/3/2011
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