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Why you need a lawyer
The advantages of working with a non-bankruptcy option attorney
Similar to how illnesses often necessitate the treatment of a doctor, legal issues often require the expertise and guidance of an attorney. Like medicine, law is complex, specialized and constantly evolving. Understanding laws, as well as legal systems and processes, not only takes years of studying and an advanced degree. It requires continuing education to ensure that attorneys are aware of new laws and stay abreast of changes to existing laws.
Although the increasing availability of legal services on the internet has made it easier to access basic legal information, these services are no substitute for the expert advice of a licensed, local attorney. Typically, online legal services offer only national perspectives, whereas local attorneys are able to provide clients with market-specific, regional insight and the personalized guidance needed to resolve a particular legal issue.
While self-representation in bankruptcy matters may work for some, studies show that representing yourself, or “Pro Se” (the official term for legal self-representation), can result in costly mistakes and unfavorable outcomes. Consider these findings:
- National filing data shows that people who hire lawyers to help them file under Chapter 7 have their debts wiped away almost without fail. Data also reveals that debtors with attorneys fare far better than those who have no legal representation.
- Data from another national study estimated the odds of receiving a discharge (debt wiped away) were 9.5 times higher for debtors with legal representation compared to unrepresented debtors (after adjusting for debtor and case characteristics).The study found that this disparity was the result of unrepresented litigants’ disproportionate rate of dismissal on technical grounds.
- Bankruptcy debtors who are unfamiliar with the various chapter types and file for the wrong chapter risk losing valuable property or end up not wiping out certain debts.