Filing for bankruptcy is a critical decision that many Georgian families have decided to make because their personal and financial circumstances have made it difficult or impossible for them to pay their bills. Because filing for bankruptcy can affect your life (and credit score) in many ways (and for many years), it is of the utmost importance for any person considering bankruptcy to consult with a knowledgeable attorney about this matter.
However, some people think that they cannot afford a bankruptcy attorney. If you are one of these people, you are encouraged to at least have a consultation with an attorney, since many attorneys will offer these consultations free of charge.
During the consultation, you should ask the attorney about the office’s fees. Remember, you can always ask to pay a lower fee or to pay the fee in installments. If after consulting with an attorney you still feel that you cannot afford to pay one, you may still have a limited number of options for your bankruptcy case.
Filing Your Case By Yourself
No one is required to hire a bankruptcy attorney, and many choose not to do so for several reasons. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may feel that your bankruptcy application would be simple enough for you to prepare and file with the court on your own. When a person files a case with the court without an attorney, the person is filing the case “pro se.” Many bankruptcy court websites have information for pro se filers to help them complete the process.
If you decide to file your case pro se, you should do as much research as possible beforehand by going to the court’s website, reading all of the court rules and forms, and talking to the court clerk if necessary. (However, remember that the clerk cannot give you legal advice, so there may be some questions that the clerk cannot answer for you).
Finding a Pro Bono Attorney
There may be many attorneys in your area that take a certain amount of cases “pro bono” which means the attorney will file your case free of charge. It must be pointed out that just like no one is required to hire an attorney, no bankruptcy attorney is required to offer his or her services for free. If you live in a rural area where there are not a lot of attorneys, it may be hard for you to find one to take your case on a pro bono basis. Moreover, if your case is complex a pro bono attorney may not feel comfortable filing the case for you. Contact as many as you can – there is no guarantee you will find one but it may be worth a few minutes of your time on the phone.
Finding a Free Legal Clinic or Legal Aid Society
Legal clinics and legal aid societies are somewhat similar to pro bono attorneys. These organizations are typically located near and are affiliated with a law school. Many clinics and societies are staffed by at least one attorney who acts as a supervisor and several law students who volunteer with the group in order to gain practice in filing cases.
As you can see, there may be options available to help you even if you cannot hire a bankruptcy attorney. Before beginning your case and to make sure you understand the bankruptcy process, contact our office today to speak to an experienced attorney about your case. We look forward to speaking with you!