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How Do I Find an Affordable Bankruptcy Attorney?

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In a Nutshell

Are you looking for help with a bankruptcy but are having trouble finding an affordable bankruptcy attorney? Here are some tips on where and how to find an affordable bankruptcy attorney and information on how to file bankrupty without one.

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts.  
Updated January 5, 2021

If you're struggling to pay back your debts and living expenses, you may be searching for an affordable bankruptcy attorney to help you file bankruptcy. If your financial situation makes it hard to find an affordable bankruptcy attorney, you're not alone. Many filers have a difficult time affording the fees charged by bankruptcy attorneys.

Even an affordable bankruptcy attorney can cost between $1,200 to $2,500, depending on the specific situation of the case. For some people, it's impossible to pay this much money to hire a bankruptcy attorney. The good news is that you don't have to hire a bankruptcy attorney. More on that later.

Where can I find a bankruptcy lawyer in my area?

Every state has a bar association that governs lawyers and they often provide the contact information, including phone number, for bankruptcy lawyers in your area. Simply search for the list of practice areas and go from there. You can also visit the website for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA). NACBA is a  national organization for consumer bankruptcy lawyers handling Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases for individual filers and small businesses.

Try to avoid hiring a paralegal to help you with your case; they can't give you legal advice and may not even be permitted to provide assistance with bankruptcy filings, either by the state bar or by the bankruptcy court.

Depending on your preference, you can typically choose between hiring a law firm or hiring a solo bankruptcy lawyer. If you hire a law firm, try to avoid bankruptcy mills. It's hard to establish a meaningful attorney-client relationship when working with a bankruptcy mill, as you may not see the same person twice. 

What are Some Options for Hiring an Affordable Bankruptcy Attorney?

Some of your friends or family members may offer to loan you the money to hire an affordable bankruptcy lawyer. This offer is wonderful, but make sure that your friend or family members know that you can't repay the money until after your bankruptcy case is closed.

You can also stop paying your unsecured debts that will be discharged in a bankruptcy case and use that money to pay an affordable bankruptcy attorney. However, your creditors could file a debt collection action to seek a judgment and wage garnishment. In addition, additional late payments will lower your credit score even further.

It's typically possible to find a bankruptcy attorney who agrees to accept payments while agreeing to handle creditor calls and provide you with legal advice as needed while you pay the attorney fees.

Another option is to seek assistance from a local legal aid organization that will represent you in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. You also have the choice of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief without an attorney if you can't find an affordable bankruptcy attorney. The Bankruptcy Code does not prohibit you from filing on your own ("pro se").

If you're exploring filing bankruptcy without a lawyer to deal with credit card debt and medical bills, we encourage you to see if you're eligible to use Upsolve's free web app to navigate the bankruptcy process.

Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Without An Attorney

If you can't find an affordable bankruptcy attorney that you can hire to file your Chapter 7 case, Upsolve, a Harvard Law School-grown nonprofit, has a free tool that might be able to help. If you don't believe us, check out these video testimonials from past users. They explain how the process works and how filing Chapter 7 without an affordable bankruptcy attorney helped them get the fresh start they needed. You can join the thousands of people who have used Upsolve to file Chapter 7 to get rid of debts they could not repay.

What is Your First Step?

If you can't pay an affordable attorney to file your Chapter 7, your first step is to determine if you qualify to file a Chapter 7 case. Our system takes you through the process of completing the Chapter 7 means test to determine if your income is below the median level to file for Chapter 7 relief.

Provided that you pass the Means Test, the app walks you through the various steps of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case including:

In a typical no-asset Chapter 7 case, you can complete the bankruptcy case and receive your bankruptcy discharge within four to six months after filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.

Get Started Now!

If you're ready to get out of debt, Upsolve is ready to help. Take the first step on the road to a debt-free life by taking our screener to see if you're eligible to use our free filing tool.

Written By:

Attorney Jonathan Petts


Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and Board Chair of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in... read more about Attorney Jonathan Petts

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    Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

    To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.


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