G W GRIFFITH
The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 has made bankruptcy more difficult and expensive to do. For one thing, the chapter 7 filing fee has been increased from $209.00 to $306.00. Financial counseling classes are now required, adding to the cost. The attorney is required to do more investigatory work and documentation. Your total fee will depend on your unique situation. I will give you a preliminary quote when we talk on the telphone and a firm quote when we meet in my office. My fees are generally at the low end of attorneys with my experience because maximizing profits has never been my goal.
I will always give you a total fee which includes the filing fee, tax, and other costs. I won't surprise you by adding costs on after you sign on with me. Lately my fees have been running $1,350 total, including filing fee and tax. If Congress will stay out of our business we can keep them there. I think you'll find this is a little lower than most attorneys.
Bankruptcy is more than just preparing a few forms. There are many pitfalls to be avoided and I have seen people lose their homes and other property, and be held liable for debts unnecessarily. With so much at stake bankruptcy is not the place to try to cut corners and save a few dollars. Don't pay more than you need for good representation - there is always someone who'll be happy to charge you more than you should pay. But be willing to pay enough to get the job done right. The cost will depend in part on the complexity of your situation, and my personal opinion is that only an experienced attorney can determine that. By no means should you use a non-attorney to guide you through this difficult process!
It is important to have a good rapport with your attorney. You may need to call him about a great many things during the course of his representation of you. If you dislike like each other it could become increasingly difficult to do. If he seems too busy to talk to you now before you've paid him, imagine what it could be like after he's been fully paid. A great lawyer is a truly compassionate person, not just an smart businessman. All of the wisdom about bedside manner applies to lawyers as well as doctors. Part of what you're paying for is consideration and respect.