A bankruptcy court in Illinois (Southern District) recently required a debtors attorney to give back the money the firm charged the client for attorney fee’s. Why? Did the attorney commit a fraud? Did the attorney fail to do their job? Did the attorney fail to file the case or run away with the money? No.
The attorney failed to meet with the client until the client came in to sign the petition.
The Court objected to the practice of having a paralegal be the only contact with the client until the client filed the bankruptcy petition. The attorney stated that they review the documents that are collected in the case and make the legal decisions, but this is not enough!
The court stated that the attorney must meet with the client to have a face to face meeting so counsel can “discuss their financial situation, explain their options, discuss the pros and cons of filing chapter 7 or chapter 13, to observe the debtors demeanor and gauge their understanding of the process, and to answer the debtors questions.”
It is particularly important that you meet and communicate with your attorney rather then their staff because many of your seemingly simple questions are complicated by other issues in your case.
If you are filing bankruptcy make sure you fully disclose all financial and legal issues when you met with your attorney so you can get the most effective representation.