The caller to my law office kept telling my assistant: I just want to ask Cathy a question.
To which my assistant replied: you need to first fill out our questionnaire and make an appointment.
But I don’t want a meeting, I just want to ask a question.
At which point, both sides of the call are frustrated.
The caller thinks he has a reasonable request. The law office isn’t getting through to the caller that a quick answer isn’t possible.
And that’s because: there are no quick answers to bankruptcy questions.
Or rather, there are no reliable quick answers about bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy answers depend on your facts
To provide an answer that is any good, a bankruptcy lawyer needs to get a bunch of facts about your situation.
Have you filed bankruptcy before?
Did you get a discharge?
How long have you lived in this district? Where did you live before?
What do you own? What’s the form of title?
How much money do you make? How many people do you support?
Do you owe taxes or child support?
The list goes on.
A quick bankruptcy answer is risky
Good lawyering is about applying the law to the client’s facts. Without facts, my advice is likely useless.
Or worse, dangerous.
It’s dangerous to the caller, because the answer, without all the facts, may not be right.
It’s dangerous to the lawyer, who has a legal responsibility to you to provide competent advice. Even if the advice is free and even if you don’t hire the lawyer to represent you.
The undisclosed facts may lead to an entirely different conclusion. And I don’t know the facts until I’ve asked a BUNCH of questions.
If I get it wrong, you may be able to sue me.
Legal advice online
The importance of the facts is why relying on the internet for legal advice hold huge dangers.
Post a question to an online forum, and you select the facts that you think are important. Or as much of the facts as you are willing to disclose in public.
Those facts may not be the ones that are critical to the answer. And even if you provide good facts about some aspect of your situation, other facts may counteract the result.
Use the internet to get some legal education about bankruptcy as a whole. Learn the bankruptcy vocabulary. Figure out what documents a lawyer will need to provide good advice.
But take no action until you’ve laid those facts before a competent bankruptcy lawyer and answered a bunch of questions.