You have decided that its time to talk to a Bankruptcy Attorney in Dayton Ohio.
In fact, you’re pretty sure you need to file a bankruptcy.
But, where to you begin?
Having practiced as a Dayton Bankruptcy Attorney since 1986, I can tell you how most folks go about finding an attorney, the problems that they have shared with me in their search, and I add some helpful advice for you to make your search a little easier.
Just follow the links below to go through the different steps. Or you can just skip the entire exercise and call me. Year after year, I have more satisfied clients, more outstanding Google reviews, and more referrals than anyone I know.
How to get the right Bankruptcy Attorney in Dayton Ohio
Here is your complete, step-by-step guide to:
- find attorneys who may be able to help you,
- how to compare them against each other,
- how to select the best one, and then
- how to work with that attorney to get your finances under control
- (and even more, if you hire me).
There are several ways to find a bankruptcy attorney in Dayton, Ohio. You can start with an Internet search, ask for referrals from people you know, go to the bankruptcy attorney Dayton Ohio Bar Association listing, or, if you can find one look in a phone book.
Most people today will start to look for a bankruptcy attorney in Dayton, Ohio on the Internet. If you search Google for the keyword bankruptcy attorney Dayton Ohio you will find a list of several local Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorneys. Just because an attorney has a website in Dayton, Ohio and lists that he is a Dayton Ohio bankruptcy attorney that does not mean that he is the right attorney for you though.
At the beginning of your search you’ll notice immediately that many of the bankruptcy attorneys in Dayton, Ohio practice bankruptcy law extensively or even exclusively. This is because bankruptcy is considered by most to be a legal specialty. In fact there is actually a specialty designation, a board certification, for consumer bankruptcy law. Of all the bankruptcy attorneys in Dayton, Ohio there is only one bankruptcy attorney who is board certified as a consumer bankruptcy specialist and that is Richard West. He has been a board-certified consumer bankruptcy specialist for over a decade.
The Internet provides a lot of good information, but also a lot of paid advertising for bankruptcy attorneys in Dayton, Ohio. You will notice when you look for `attorneys in Dayton, Ohio that there are paid advertisements at the top right-hand side of the page. Below that you’ll find a map listing the locations of bankruptcy attorneys in Dayton, Ohio. And below that you’ll see a number of other websites for Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorneys.
It would be a good idea for you to visit the websites of several of these Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorneys. See what type of information they have on their websites. If you find that the bankruptcy attorney just has stock or boilerplate information then you might conclude that the attorney is not writing the information himself but is instead hiring someone to put the website up for them.
Stock or standard content in a website indicates that the Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney does not put the time, thought, or effort into the website to make it really useful. It’s simply not helpful for a website to tell you that they offer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy services, give you some stock or boilerplate information about the differences between these two types of bankruptcies, and sometimes give you a contact form claiming to be a free evaluation which is really just a way for them to get your name and e-mail address. Sometimes they’ll put a very small box for you to leave them a message.
On the Internet you will also find a number of paid ads and thinly disguised referral websites. These are actually advertisements run by companies that try to collect your name and e-mail information under the guise of giving you a free review. They ask about five questions and want your e-mail address, followed by selling your contact information to local Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorneys who buy this information in hopes that they can contact you and sell you their services. Total bankruptcy, clear bankruptcy, etc. are all sites that fall into this category.
On the other hand you can go to sites like avvo and actually get real information about Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorneys plus reviews from real clients of Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorneys. These sites list objective information about the attorneys that you might find useful and relevant when searching for a Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney.
Another way to find a Dayton bankruptcy lawyer would be to ask friends and acquaintances. In the not too distant past it was very unusual for people to discuss their personal and private matters, especially bankruptcy. However times have changed, and it seems that people are more and more willing to discuss their experience with bankruptcy attorneys with others. There can be a danger in relying on referrals however.
I know from my 29 years experience that oftentimes people will give referrals to their friends and coworkers simply because they used a particular attorney for bankruptcy or other legal matters. This does not necessarily mean that the attorney was a good attorney or that they were happy with the attorney they chose. In fact these referrals sometimes simply mean that nothing went terribly wrong with the case and they ended up getting a bankruptcy discharged without being thrown out of court. This means that referrals are sometimes not very helpful in your search to find a very good bankruptcy attorney, one who will help you find the kind of financial recovery that you’re really looking for.
Another source of information to help you find a Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney is to go to the Dayton Bar Association. The Dayton Bar Association maintains a list of attorneys who express an interest in and competency for bankruptcy matters. Attorneys are not permitted to just join the list without demonstrating that they have some kind of experience and proficiency in filing bankruptcy cases. The Dayton Bar Association does not rate or ranked bankruptcy attorneys though, they simply provide you with a list of names and nothing more. So, in a sense, this is not a very helpful way to find a good bankruptcy attorney for your needs.
Last, and probably least when it comes to finding a good attorney, is the phone book. You can still find attorneys in the phone book at times although as the years pass phone books are harder to find. Attorneys in general, and in particular bankruptcy lawyers, are advertising less and less in phone books today.
What is the best way to find a bankruptcy attorney? Here in this article we have explored some sources available to help you can find these attorneys. In following articles we will tell you how to compare, how to select, and how to work with a Dayton bankruptcy attorney.
How to Compare Different Bankruptcy Attorneys in Dayton, Ohio
Once you’ve located a number of different bankruptcy attorneys in Dayton, Ohio you will need to compare them against each other. This is not as easy as it might seem, because trying to compare lawyers against each other is somewhat like trying to compare doctors against each other. This is very difficult for a layperson to do. You don’t have any special training or expertise so you have to rely on other factors instead.
Number of Years in Practice
It goes without saying that that a Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney who has only been in practice for a few years is probably not going to perform the same quality of work that a bankruptcy lawyer who’s been in practice for 30 years will. There is no substitute for experience, and bankruptcy law is complex and full of traps for the unwary. I’ve seen a number of situations where inexperienced bankruptcy attorneys have made mistakes that cost their clients’ houses and cars. Sadly once the mistake is made it’s often impossible to correct. This makes it important to get the right Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney on your side from the beginning.
This is not to say that someone who’s been in practice for 10 years is not as good as someone who’s been in practice for 30. It depends more on the individual attorney, and the number of bankruptcy cases he or she has filed. In fact I know several attorneys who been in practice for 30 years or more and, although they file bankruptcy cases, they don’t file very many of them and are not very good at it. If an attorney has been in practice for a number of years but still maintains a general practice they probably wouldn’t even be considered a Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney, but rather a Dayton, Ohio general practice attorney. Because bankruptcy is a specialty you should be very cautious in selecting an attorney who does not limit his practice to bankruptcy, debt relief, and related matters. For example last year alone my office filed 508 cases, more than any other bankruptcy attorney office in southern Ohio.
Size of Staff and Staff to Client Ratio
It is customary in bankruptcy law to have paraprofessionals, paralegals and legal assistants, performing a significant amount of work on the back end of the case. Most of the time the case itself is prepared largely by non-attorneys, although the attorney supervises the work of these paralegals and makes sure that the paperwork is in all respects proper before filing. If an attorney is a sole practitioner and is doing most of the work himself this can be a problem. If he has a conflict, gets sick, or his single secretary is unavailable, the work on your case could suffer and in some cases may not be done. Because of this it is reasonable to ask whether or not there is sufficient staff and backup for the attorney in case the inevitable sickness or schedule conflicts do arise. Our office has probably the highest staff to client ratio, with more than a dozen support staff working in conjunction with two attorneys to ensure that all of our clients receive the attention they need for their cases.
Certifications and Teaching
Bankruptcy is a recognized specialty in Ohio although the Ohio Supreme Court Board of certification doesn’t recognize consumer bankruptcy law as a specialty. Because bankruptcy law is a federal law the Supreme Court recognizes the American Board of certification specialty designation as a board of certification recognized in Ohio. There is no other certification for bankruptcy attorneys in Ohio. In fact the rules of professional conduct prohibits attorneys from holding themselves out as bankruptcy specialists unless they have board certification from the American Board of certification.
In Dayton, Ohio Richard West is the only consumer bankruptcy specialist recognized by the Supreme Court of Ohio, because he does have the American board certification approval. Rick West has been a board-certified specialist for consumer bankruptcy for over 10 years.
In addition to certification look at whether or not the Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney you are evaluating has ever taught or offered any articles. Does the attorney appear on television, has the attorney authored textbooks? Although it’s not absolutely necessary for an attorney to have lectured and taught other bankruptcy attorneys it is an indication of professionalism, and an elevated knowledge of bankruptcy law is beneficial. Richard West has lectured for all of the for-profit continuing legal education providers in Ohio, PESI, NBI, etc.
You should inquire whether or not the Dayton Ohio bankruptcy attorney that you are evaluating offers additional services to help you in your financial recovery. It is said that bankruptcy offers the consumer a fresh start. While this is true you need to finish what you start. I found in my 29 years in practice that bankruptcy itself does not help anybody improve their credit. On top of this creditors often leave incorrect information on your credit report. Because of this I find that it is important to assist consumers after the bankruptcy to improve their credit. Because I am a certified credit counselor, I provide additional services to my clients above and beyond what the typical Dayton Ohio bankruptcy attorney will offer. This is because I know that the financial recovery which is the goal of bankruptcy is not obtained by the bankruptcy alone. One needs to follow a course of action designed to rebuild credit, and also to evaluate the credit report and promptly dispute any incorrect information which is found on the report.
Bankruptcy attorneys in Dayton, Ohio typically do not provide this additional level of service. Generally speaking they are not credit counselors, and they generally refer their clients out to other sources to obtain these additional but necessary services. It is not necessary for a bankruptcy attorney to provide the extra services but it is certainly important from a consumer standpoint that they understand that the bankruptcy does not provide complete financial recovery in and of itself,. These additional services and processes need to be included in order for a full and complete financial recovery to be achieved.
How to Select a Bankruptcy Attorney in Dayton, Ohio
The best way to select your Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney, once you have completed your research and compared all the information that you can obtain, is to call the office of each attorney and begin to take notes. Even before you meet the attorney in person there is a lot that you should pay attention to in the selection process.
Bankruptcy attorneys in Dayton, Ohio have a number of different ways that they may conduct their practice. In some cases you can call the office and make an appointment to talk to the attorney with absolutely no preparation whatsoever. In fact sometimes they don’t even ask you any questions about your debt. I find this to be somewhat strange, because sometimes people think they need bankruptcy services when in fact they don’t.
The process of selecting a Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney begins with an initial contact, and sometimes this contact method is through the Internet by e-mail. You could simply e-mail the attorney if the attorney offers this service on his website, and see whether or not the attorney is willing to give you some information and ideas about your options over the Internet through e-mail. I believe this is an indication that the attorney is trying to really provide answers and a valuable service to the public, and is not just interested in seeing how many people he can get into his office.
The next step towards an actual meeting with an attorney could be a telephone conference. Oftentimes attorneys will not talk to you on the telephone because they want to get you into their office. I believe that by offering a telephone consultation the attorney is indicating that he is willing to meet you where you are, and to take the next step in the evaluation process to help you find all of the answers and options so that you can make the right choice. Plus it is a lot easier to schedule a telephone call than it is an office consultation because there is no travel involved. I find that many times people can talk to me on the telephone during their lunch hour or on a break when it would be difficult or impossible for them to schedule an office meeting. Scheduling an office meeting oftentimes means that someone is going to have to miss work, sometimes for an entire day, and this is a financial loss that can be avoided by using the telephone consultation process.
The next step in your journey to select a Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney would be to schedule an office consultation. The office consultation will be your best opportunity to determine a lot about how the attorney practices law, and how he approaches helping people who have financial problems. Is there a thorough and detailed questionnaire that you will be filling out before meeting with the attorney? Or will you be starting from scratch with an attorney who is not prepared, and who doesn’t know anything about your circumstances? Time is valuable. I found that having all the information organized and reviewed prior to a personal meeting is the best way to focus on different options and provide client education. This makes the best use of the time for my client and for me.
Sometimes you will not be meeting with the attorney initially, but with trained staff instead Sometimes the intake process can be handled by a non-attorney paraprofessional who gathers information that is later summarized by the attorney. When the attorney joins the appointment they are quickly brought up to speed by the paralegal or credit counselor who has taken the time to thoroughly examine and become familiar with the consumers situation, challenges, and needs.
Finally, at the appointed with the attorney, you’ll have an opportunity to observe the attorney’s reactions to your situation firsthand. You will see and get a feel about whether or not the attorney is sincerely interested in helping you find the right answer to your problem, or whether the attorney is trying to sell you a bankruptcy. Sadly there are attorneys who approach bankruptcy law without the kind of empathy and understanding that consumers really appreciate and need. When someone needs a bankruptcy attorney they’re very vulnerable, afraid, ashamed, and worried. They need someone who will take the time to address their concerns in a compassionate and caring way. This is a bedside manner issue that I believe is very important. You need to be comfortable with the Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney that you select and have confidence and faith in them as you work through your debt problems and begin the process of financial recovery.
>How to Work With a Dayton, Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney
So now you have done your research, made your selection, and actually hired your Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney.
But this is just the beginning of the next phase of your bankruptcy case. Now you will be required to assist the attorney in preparing the case by providing a significant amount of information about your financial history, your debts, your income, your expenses, and other documentation required by federal bankruptcy law.
The bankruptcy law requires that your Dayton Ohio bankruptcy attorney provide a complete and accurate bankruptcy petition to the court and the bankruptcy trustee, and that they review the same and determine whether or not you are entitled to the bankruptcy discharge that you seek.
The preparation of a bankruptcy petition is, in my opinion, a shared responsibility. Your Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney will take care of the legal work and proper form preparation, however you will be required to provide the bankruptcy lawyer with all of the information required to fill the forms out correctly. In addition there are certain documents that have to be provided by law before the case can be filed. It will be the responsibility of your Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorney to give you a complete list of all of the information that you need to provide so that he can do his job properly.
Some of the information needed can be obtained directly by the attorney. This information might include tax returns. If you file an IRS 2848 with the IRS then the attorney will be able to obtain your tax transcripts directly from the IRS. If you have them available to you this step would not be necessary. Additionally many Dayton, Ohio bankruptcy attorneys require that you provide them with recorded copies of your deed in mortgage on your real estate. My office has agreements with the various counties. This means that we can get these documents for you so that you do not have to go to the recorder’s office in the county where you live to attain these documents. The cost of attaining the documents is included in our fees.
There are some documents that only you can provide, like your paycheck stubs and titles to your automobiles. Additionally you may have life insurance with cash value or there may be other documents that the attorney will be required to obtain, so that copies can be made and provided to the bankruptcy trustee for review and proper processing.
There is truly a lot of work in the preparation of the bankruptcy petition. This is a shared responsibility, as I mentioned above, and you will work with the attorney and the attorney’s staff in order to make sure that all the information is provided so that you have a smooth case.
Communication with the attorney is important. Often consumers work during the day when the attorney’s offices are open and consumers don’t get home until the attorney’s office closes. This means e-mail is probably the best way to communicate with your bankruptcy attorney. Telephone calls work well sometimes but telephone tag can certainly be a frustrating experience if it goes on too long. In my office we try to schedule telephone calls so that everybody knows when the call is expected, and the attorney will not be on another call or with another client when the call is scheduled.
In actual practice most of the work done in the preparation of the bankruptcy case is done by trained paralegals. Therefore the consumer should be expecting to work mainly with paralegals and support staff in the actual preparation of the bankruptcy petition. Most of the paralegals that work in the offices of the Ohio bankruptcy attorneys are specially trained in bankruptcy law, and are very helpful in assisting clients in obtaining information that is necessary to properly file a bankruptcy case.
The attorney is required to supervise all of the work performed by paralegals. At the end of the day, when the case is ready to be filed by the attorney and the client will be signing off on the petition, it is absolutely essential that the client reviews all the information contained in the position and that the attorney does as well.
In summary the preparation of the bankruptcy petition is a laborious task. There is lot of information that is necessary to properly complete the petition, and a lot of documents that have to be reviewed and summarized as well. The consumer, the bankruptcy attorney, and the bankruptcy attorney staff need to work together effectively and communicate well in order to make this process as seamless as possible.
During the preparation of a bankruptcy petition there are numerous local Rules of Court that have to be followed. Many of these rules address the numerous document requirements that attorneys are required to provide. If you show up for a meeting with the trustee and all the documentation is not in order the trustee could refuse to hear the case, or schedule it for another day and give the attorney and client another opportunity to comply with all of the rules and provide the trustee with all the documents necessary. This is to be avoided at all costs, and should not happen if the attorney has an organized system to obtain all the information and is diligent about following all the rules to the letter.
My office has an elaborate workbook system with numerous checks and balances, checklists, and double-checks to make sure that when we finally file a case we have all of our I’s dotted and T’s crossed. Our office’s reputation with the trustees is excellent. We have a reputation for having all of our affairs in order so that we are not required to come back a second time (because we get right the first time).
This is an involved process. It’s time consuming. It’s worth every bit of time you put into it.
I know. I’ve seen the results of making the wrong choice when selecting a bankruptcy attorney.
Sometimes it means you have to file another bankruptcy.
Sometimes it means that you lose property.
Sometimes it’s even worse.
What could be worse?
Getting a bankruptcy discharge but never getting help putting the pieces back together.
That’s why it is so important to get a COMPLETE FINANCIAL RECOVERY! Not just a bankruptcy discharge.
If you have read all the way to the end of this long page, you are very serious about making the right choice.
When something is important to you, you need a specialist. There is only one Board Certified Dayton Bankruptcy Attorney. Richard West.
But more than that, I really care about your financial recovery, about your future.
That’s why I became the only triple certified attorney in Ohio.
That’s why I help you with your credit.
That’s why I have more satisfied customers, and more great reviews on the internent than any bankruptcy attorney in Dayton.
Don’t take my word for it.
Check it out for yourself.
Then, come in and talk to me.
I can help.
One call can change it all.