If you’re inclined pull up a map application to find a bankruptcy lawyer, I gotta ask: is proximity really the most important factor?
Not by a mile.
You want an experienced, local lawyer, but “local” means active before the judges in the federal judicial district where you live.
It doesn’t mean having an office around the corner from you.
You need much more than someone close by.
What you want from your lawyer
You want three things in a bankruptcy lawyer:
- openness, and
- familiarity with the players in the local bankruptcy system.
Those players are the bankruptcy judges, the bankruptcy trustees, and perhaps, creditor lawyers appearing in the local bankruptcy court. Those players, and the thoroughness of your lawyer, will influence how simply your case plays out.
The more often your lawyer has interacted successfully with those players, the better.
Close is nice but no more
The chief advantage in a really local lawyer is convenience of travel to the lawyer’s office. You’ll be providing reams of paper and reviewing the resulting bankruptcy schedules.
However, with the increasing use of email, scanners, and Zoom, the importance of proximity lessens.
For many people in rural counties, they’ve always had to rely on technology to communicate with their bankruptcy lawyers: the distances are simply too great and the supply of bankruptcy lawyers too limited.
The danger of great distance
With the advent of internet internet marketing, we in the Northern District of California have seen an influx of case filings by lawyers from hundreds of miles away. The results haven’t always been pretty.
It’s not the distance between client and lawyer that is the heart of the problem: it’s that 1) too many of these out-of-district lawyers don’t utilize their technology to really find out about the issues in the client’s life, and 2) the lawyers are too often indifferent to the local rules promulgated by the judges and the local norms for bankruptcy representation.
Again, it comes down to how committed a lawyer is to doing a good job and establishing a good reputation with the judges and trustees. If you aren’t here often, you probably aren’t as engaged with local practice.
Bay Area brims with good bankruptcy lawyers
For years, the Bay Area has had a reputation for a vibrant consumer bankruptcy bar. After all, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys was the brainchild of two San Jose lawyers.
We also have a concentration of bankruptcy specialists, certified by the California State Bar. You can find those specialists online, by county, here. Use the pull down menu to find bankruptcy specialists.
You don’t have to go out of the area to find good help for your financial issues.
How to interview a bankruptcy lawyer