If you or a loved one are considering filing for bankruptcy, you have likely spent a good deal of time Googling and otherwise searching the Internet for information on the bankruptcy process and for information on bankruptcy lawyers and law firms. It is very important to contact multiple bankruptcy firms in order to find an office that best fits your needs and that you feel comfortable working with on your case.
There are several excellent law firms in Georgia and the majority of attorneys who practice in this state are qualified. However, there are also a number of firms, called bankruptcy mills, which specialize in high-volume bankruptcy filings and sacrifice quality representation for increased legal fees. (Note that a bankruptcy mill should not be confused with a bankruptcy firm. Many firms specialize in bankruptcy law only and still provide excellent legal services. The difference between a mill and a firm is that the assistance offered to mill clients is of very low quality whereas a good firm offers great legal assistance and advice to its clients).
Signs That a Business is a Bankruptcy Mill
In general, if the business you contact possesses many of the following characteristics, it is likely that the business is a bankruptcy mill:
- The law practice files a very large number of bankruptcy cases every month
- The attorneys who work for the practice are never available to speak with a client on the phone or to personally meet with the client at the office
- There is a heavy reliance on administrative support staff, such as secretaries, receptionists, and paralegals, to process the case and communicate with the client about the necessary paperwork
- The practice heavily advertises its services as “next-day bankruptcies” or similar catchphrases
- The attorneys are unable or unwilling to attend bankruptcy meetings such as the 341 meeting of the creditors and instruct the debtor to attend these meetings alone
Why Shouldn’t I Work With a Bankruptcy Mill?
You are of course free to give your business to any law practice you wish. However, working with a bankruptcy mill can often result in the client experiencing a multitude of frustrations and delays that may have been avoided if the client had chosen to work with a different law firm.
For example, because of the high-volume business model of bankruptcy mills, individual clients typically do not receive any individualized and personalized attention. While for the standard bankruptcy case, no individualized attention may not be an issue, if there are any out-of-the-ordinary or special circumstances in your case, your case may encounter obstacles down the road. Bankruptcy is complex and if an attorney is not keeping a watchful eye on your case, you may miss out on a number of important benefits or find yourself lost in a lot of red tape.
Additionally, the combination of high-volume work and preparation by support staff who are not trained attorneys, often results in mistakes being made on the bankruptcy petition paperwork. Since bankruptcy mills often have their administrative staff draft and file the bankruptcy petitions with the court, there is little time for review or oversight and the potential for many mistakes to be made. In certain circumstances the bankruptcy court does allow you to amend or fix errors on your bankruptcy petition. But doing so almost always results in delays to your case.
How Can I Avoid Bankruptcy Mills?
The best way to avoid a bankruptcy mill (and to find the right attorney for you) is to have an in-person consultation with an attorney from the bankruptcy firm. If the firm refuses to allow you to speak to an attorney, it is highly likely that the firm is a bankruptcy mill. For more information on what documents you should bring to your consultation, read our post on that topic here.
If you have questions about the bankruptcy process, contact our office today to speak to one of our attorneys about your case. We look forward to working with you!