Consumer debtors want to save money and hire a reasonably priced attorney, but filing bankruptcy without even meeting an attorney can spell disaster. My advice is to hire a local lawyer. Go into their office and meet them in person. Satisfy yourself that they care about you and that they are an expert in bankruptcy. Pay a fair fee, not some kind of "cut rate" fee. If you hire someone "sight unseen" off the internet, there is no telling what you will get.

Take this case, Case No. 13-80149, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division. On June 18, 2013, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Letitia Paul issued a Memorandum Opinion, sanctioning the debtor's counsel Glynda Stowers for sharing fees with non-lawyers, violating the Bankruptcy Code's debt relief agency provisions, violating the Texas Bankruptcy Courts Administrative Procedures for filing electronic documents, and for violating Bankruptcy Rule 9011.

Stowers had made an agreement with an out of state group calling itself "Texas Bankruptcy Firm" or "Texas BK Firm" to let them use her electronic signature, so they could file bankruptcy cases under her name for Texans, when Stowers had never even met with or counseled the debtors.

The out of state group got most of the fee money, but gave Stowers $185 per client to appear at the Meeting of Creditors. The out of state group was not authorized to practice law in Texas, and were mostly non-lawyers. It sounds like many of the cases ended badly; the court noted that nine of the cases were chapter 13 cases, but only one of the debtors had made a payment and had their case dismissed with prejudice to refiling.

Again, don't expect something for nothing. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you need a bankruptcy attorney, take my advice above, and find someone that is for real, not some bogus company on the internet that just wants your money.

J Thomas Black
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Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization