Filing a bankruptcy is not like buying a can of Classico spaghetti sauce; instead it is like getting a new pet.
Shopping for bankruptcy help, based on solely on price, will have dreadful results; like losing your tax refunds.
Filing a bankruptcy is not like buying a can of Classico spaghetti sauce; instead it is like getting a new pet. Now you think I am crazy, but I have your attention. You can shop the same brand of sauce in several stores and buy the cheapest one because you are assured that the same recipe is in each jar.
Use that same analogy to bringing home a new pet. All the puppies in the litter look similar. You have no way to know which one will become a biter, aggressive or continually shred everything in the house or yard. When you first get your new pet home there is great excitement and expectation for a very rewarding partnership. A bankruptcy is like that new pet. With great advice, proper planning and a little luck, the bankruptcy will go through without a hiccup. But, without all of those you will face a nightmare.
Broken Promises: Some Bankruptcy Attorneys (who believe their clients are just cash registers) Promise to Help, but End Up Causing Horrible Damage.
Hiring an attorney from the Internet can be the beginning of a nightmare:
Many attorneys pay for client leads from companies on the Internet. Never hire an attorney this way. The attorney pays for placement on the site (perhaps a company on the east coast), then pays for each lead and/or pays for leads based on zip codes or other criteria. Again, you will not receiving any type of reference as to the attorney’s ethics, quality of practice or professionalism. Assume the attorney is lying and make sure to investigate any claims.
False and Misleading Advertisements:
If anyone says they “have a 100% success rate”, run away because no bankruptcy attorney (no matter how experienced and committed they are) has a 100% success rate, including me. An example is a young Arizona attorney who advertises that “100 percent of our clients that have made the decision to retain us have had their debt eliminated and have obtained a Fresh Start” (from a Nolo advertisement). According to research done by this office in September 2019 – between 2016 and 2019 Mr. Scott M. Forrester filed approximately 153 chapter 13 cases, of those there were 202 dismissals: 118 interim dismissals and 84 final dismissals (which means that his clients did not receive any relief, but now have a bankruptcy on their credit reports). How much trauma did it cause his clients? Only time will tell.
UPDATE: Bankruptcy Court Hearing on December 1, 2020, Judge Wanslee sanctions Scott M. Forrester for his refusal to comply with court orders:
Judge finds that Scott M. Forrester “willfully violated orders of this court….” “lack of attention and diligence as to the files he is handling…” “evidence that papers are being filed without review by the clients….which is a clear violation of the Code and Rules” “Mr. Forrester is ordered to disgorge fees…until proof of compliance” “Court finds that Mr. Forrester has failed to follow the requirements of the Code and the Rules…” “Mr. Forrester’s practice does not seem to be compliant … it is difficult to see any change or improvement”. “Clients are not to pay Forrester directly, but must pay to the Registry of the Court.”
Why is this all important?
I tell you this to warn you – follow your gut and do your own research. Do not rely on reviews because many are fake (just like ‘fake news’). Do I hope that all young attorneys will ask for help from experienced bankruptcy attorneys so they can do a better job helping their clients? Absolutely, but only time will tell.
I wish I could say that this young attorney is the only such Arizona attorney, but I cannot. His is just the case I am currently involved in, so have specifics about his practice after talking to several of his ex-clients and other attorneys trying to help his ex-clients. Arizona has seen many attorneys disbarred or orders entered prohibiting them from practicing bankruptcy law, below are just a few:
- Duane Varbel of Varbel & Associates Law Office, then Joseph J. Hessinger of Hessinger & Associates, followed by Michael S. Manning, Manning & Associates
- Jeffrey Phillips of Phillips & Associates (article “Zero down bankruptcy firms cost their clients plenty”)
We have several videos on our web site. Below are just a few that might be of interest:
The following are some good resources to consider in hiring a lawyer:
- How to Hire a Lawyer.
- Why Hiring a Cheaper Lawyer is Very Expensive
- “Suggestions on How to Hire an Attorney”
- “Why I Offer Free Legal Advice.”