If your bankruptcy attorney is not providing you with competent representation, it may be time to fire and replace your lawyer. Read on to learn more about the red flags that may indicate it is time to replace your attorney.
For more information, see Hiring and Working With a Bankruptcy Lawyer.
Firing Your Bankruptcy Lawyer
One of the most common complaints clients have about their attorney is that he or she does not return phone calls or emails in a timely manner. While lack of communication alone is typically not a reason to fire your attorney, it may be an indicator of bigger problems. If you are unhappy with your attorney, let him or her know. In most cases, when your attorney understands your expectations, he or she will try to meet them. But if your attorney does not have the level of competence required to handle your case, then it is time to fire him or her.
When You May Need to Replace Your Bankruptcy Lawyer
If your attorney's performance is lacking in such a way that your case is suffering, then it may be time to find a new lawyer. The following are some of the red flags to look for when deciding whether to replace your attorney.
Your Attorney Fails to Return Your Calls or Emails
Attorneys are typically very busy people. But making sure your questions are answered are part of their job. If your attorney repeatedly fails to return your calls or emails and keeps you in the dark about your case, you may be dealing with an incompetent attorney.
Your Attorney Does Not Have the Necessary Skills to Handle Your Case
Bankruptcy is a very specialized area of the law. For example, even a lawyer who regularly handles Chapter 7 bankruptcies may not possess the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully complete a Chapter 13 case. Every attorney has a duty to competently represent his or her clients. If your attorney lacks the competence required to handle your case, you need a new attorney.
Your Attorney Does Not Advise You of Your Rights and Responsibilities
The purpose of hiring an attorney is to take the mystery out of the bankruptcy process and make sure that your case proceeds smoothly. It is your attorney's job to inform you of everything that you must do throughout the process. Failure to do so may indicate a lack of knowledge and competence.
Your Attorney Misses Meetings or Hearings
If your attorney does not show up for scheduled appointments or court hearings, it is a big red flag. Failure to appear at bankruptcy hearings can cause unnecessary delays or result in dismissal of your case. If your attorney can't make it to your appointment or hearing, he or she should send another attorney to meet with you or appear in court.
Your Attorney Misses a Deadline
When a bankruptcy case is filed, there are multiple deadlines that must be followed. These include deadlines to file documents, send supporting documentation to the trustee, and oppose any motions or objections filed by creditors. It is your attorney's job to know these deadlines and make sure that they are satisfied. If your attorney fails to meet all required deadlines, your case may get dismissed or suffer other adverse consequences.
Choose Your Bankruptcy Attorney Carefully
Firing your attorney in the middle of your bankruptcy can result in delays and additional fees. As a result, it should be done as a last resort. If you feel that you must replace your bankruptcy lawyer, make sure to choose an attorney who can substitute in and handle your case effectively. When meeting with potential attorneys, give as much information about your case as you can and question the attorneys about their experience in handling similar cases.
For more information on how to choose a bankruptcy attorney, see What to Look for in a Bankruptcy Lawyer.