2020 Best Invention

Free Bankruptcy Lawyer in Arlington, Virginia

Upsolve is a nonprofit tool that helps you file bankruptcy for free. Think TurboTax for bankruptcy. Get free education, customer support, and community. Featured in Forbes 4x and funded by institutions like Harvard University so we'll never ask you for a credit card. Explore our free tool


In a Nutshell

Need to file bankruptcy but don't think you can afford an attorney? Learn how to get free legal help to get your fresh start in Arlington, Virginia.

Written by Upsolve Team.  
Updated October 29, 2020


Filing for consumer bankruptcy can be a surprisingly affordable process. Chapter 7 filers can potentially work with a free bankruptcy lawyer through a legal aid society. However, most filers can successfully prepare their bankruptcy cases without a bankruptcy attorney’s assistance. Although Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers need to work with a law firm to successfully prepare their cases – and law offices need to charge fees to keep their businesses running – these filers can pay their legal bills as part of their bankruptcy repayment plan via installments over several years.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File Bankruptcy?

When people learn just how straightforward the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process is, many are understandably surprised. Most of the time, when you have a legal issue, you need to hire a law firm to help you work through that issue successfully. Whether you’re filing for divorce or starting a small business, most people can’t successfully navigate a legal challenge without paying for legal advice.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an exception to that general rule. Unless you’re a business owner, you own real estate other than your house, your financial situation is unusually complex, you own luxury property, or you can’t fill out paperwork without help, you won’t need to hire an attorney to successfully complete your bankruptcy petition. You can prepare your case on your own whether you’re filing bankruptcy as an individual or jointly with your spouse.

Note however that the opportunity to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code isn’t made available to every consumer. This generous debt relief option is reserved for members of low-income households who can’t reasonably be expected to begin repaying their eligible unsecured debts (credit card bills, medical bills, etc.) at this time. Those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 relief can explore filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy with the help of a licensed attorney.

Are You Filing a Chapter 13 Reorganization Bankruptcy?

If you don’t meet the income eligibility requirements outlined in the Chapter 7 Means Test, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a good debt relief alternative for your situation. This bankruptcy process will allow you to stop collection action, halt wage garnishment, and end communications from debt collectors. It will also allow you to restructure your debt so that monthly debt payments are manageable. After a successful 3-5 year repayment period, any remaining eligible debts will be discharged.

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a much more complicated process than filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is. You won’t want to attempt to prepare a Chapter 13 petition on your own, as this approach is statistically doomed to failure. Instead, work with an attorney, knowing that you’ll be able to pay your legal fees as a part of your repayment plan. This is a very manageable arrangement for most filers.

If you want to work with an attorney on your Chapter 7 case but you can’t afford to develop an attorney-client relationship with a private lawyer, consider reaching out to a local civil legal aid society. These nonprofit organizations usually provide free and low-cost legal services for members of low-income households.

Legal aid societies provide many of the same legal services that private bankruptcy law firms do. If you’re eligible for assistance through a legal aid society (likely determined by the results of an eligibility screening), you’ll work with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about bankruptcy law. This attorney may be employed by the nonprofit or they may volunteer their time there. However, you may be placed on a waitlist before you’re able to begin work with your attorney. Nonprofits rely on grant funding and donations, so they don’t always have the resources to meet every client’s needs immediately.

The Legal Services Corporation is the biggest “funder” of civil legal aid societies in the United States. If an organization accepts LSC funding, they are required to – at a minimum – provide free or low-cost services to clients whose annual household income is lower than 125% of the federal poverty line. This is a model that many civil legal aid societies follow. However, as each organization is independent, individual nonprofits may alter these general “low-income” eligibility criteria slightly or significantly. The best way to determine whether you’re eligible for assistance is to call local aid societies directly and ask whether you qualify for their services.

Use the contact information listed below to connect with civil legal aid societies based in or near Arlington. When you speak with a staff member, make sure to inquire about the nonprofit’s eligibility criteria and estimated wait times for new clients.

Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc.
(540) 433-1830
204 North High Street, P.O. Box 551, Harrisonburg, VA 22803

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.
(804) 648-1012
101 West Broad Street, Suite 101, P.O. Box 12206, Richmond, VA 23241-2206

Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia
(757) 827-5078
125 St. Paul's Boulevard, Suite 400, Norfolk, VA 23510

Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc.
(703) 778-6800
4080 Chain Bridge Road, 1st Floor, Fairfax, VA 22030

Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.
(434) 528-4722
513 Church Street, P.O. Box 6200, Lynchburg, VA 24505-6200

Upsolve
Nationwide Service (NYC Office)

Getting a Free Evaluation from a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Perhaps you need to work with an attorney on your Chapter 7 case because you own valuable property or you have a disability that prevents you from preparing paperwork without assistance. Or perhaps you simply prefer to have a lawyer’s help and you don’t qualify for free or low-cost assistance through a legal aid society. Or perhaps you have some questions about bankruptcy law that you’d like to ask a lawyer before you commit to a plan of action. Great news! You can schedule a confidential, no-risk, no-obligation initial consultation with a consumer bankruptcy attorney practicing in Arlington or a nearby community.

Tofind an attorney who offers free consultations in or near Arlington, check out these websites:

  • The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)

  • The Virginia State Bar Association

  • The D.C. Bar Association

When you arrive for your consultation, you can ask as many questions as you have. The only commitment you have to make to this process is time and energy. At the end of the consultation, you will neither be obligated to file bankruptcy nor to work with a lawyer moving forward. The free consultation process is essentially a “try it before you buy it” situation. It costs you nothing. The decision to work with an attorney moving forward or to file bankruptcy on your own is always up to you.

Filing Without a Bankruptcy Attorney

You can achieve a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, whether you choose to work with a legal aid society, hire a private attorney, or file “pro se.” “Pro se” is the term used by bankruptcy courts to describe filers who don’t seek the assistance of a lawyer when preparing their bankruptcy cases. You’ll be considered a pro se filer if you prepare your petition on your own, even if you attended a free consultation with an attorney.

Using Upsolve’s Free Web Tool to File Bankruptcy on Your Own

If you’re up to the (likely) straightforward challenge of preparing your bankruptcy case yourself, you’ll want to take advantage of no-cost, reputable resources designed to help self-filers like yourself. To start, you can find two very useful resources on the Upsolve website. Upsolve is a nonprofit organization funded primarily by Harvard University. Its team is dedicated to helping anyone struggling with debt explore their options and to helping low-income Chapter 7 filers successfully navigate the bankruptcy process at little or no cost.

The first tool you’ll want to check out is Upsolve’s free filing tool. If your case is “simple” and straightforward, you may be eligible to use this platform to access your bankruptcy forms. Once you’ve used this tool to fill out your forms in a secure, easy-to-navigate way, you can print them out and file them with the court. Dealing with paperwork challenges is arguably the toughest thing about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. The Upsolve filing tool eliminates most of this stress and guesswork.

Even if you aren’t eligible to use the filing tool, you can find valuable guidance at no cost on the Upsolve Learning Center hub. This resource is available to the public for free and without a login. It features hundreds of guides to bankruptcy and other debt management options. These guides are written by attorneys, which helps to ensure the reliability of this helpful information.

Self-help Resources at the Bankruptcy Court

You can also pick up printed information about the different types of bankruptcy at a nearby bankruptcy court. This information may be particularly helpful if you plan to request a waiver of your filing fee or if you’d like information about what to expect at your meeting of creditors.

Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc.
(540) 433-1830
204 North High Street, P.O. Box 551, Harrisonburg, VA 22803

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.
(804) 648-1012
101 West Broad Street, Suite 101, P.O. Box 12206, Richmond, VA 23241-2206

Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia
(757) 827-5078
125 St. Paul's Boulevard, Suite 400, Norfolk, VA 23510

Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc.
(703) 778-6800
4080 Chain Bridge Road, 1st Floor, Fairfax, VA 22030

Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.
(434) 528-4722
513 Church Street, P.O. Box 6200, Lynchburg, VA 24505-6200

Upsolve
Nationwide Service (NYC Office)

Let’s Summarize

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you want to invest in the services provided by a private law firm, great. If you want to take advantage of free or low-cost legal services provided by a nonprofit organization, great. If you want to save money and retain total control over your case by filing pro se, great. You should approach the bankruptcy process in whatever way will best help you and your family achieve a fresh financial start.

Just remember, if you choose to file pro se, there are reputable, free resources available to help you through this process successfully. Additionally, if you’re not yet sure of whether filing bankruptcy is the best option for your situation, you can schedule a free credit counseling session to explore all of the options available to you at this time. 



It's easy to get help

Choose one of the options below to get assistance with your bankruptcy:

Free Web App

Take our screener or read our bankruptcy F.A.Q. to see if Upsolve is right for you.

Take Screener
7,768 families have filed with Upsolve! ☆
or

Private Attorney

Get a free bankruptcy evaluation from an independent law firm.

Find Attorney

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.

Close

Considering Bankruptcy?

Try our 100% free tool that thousands of low-income families across the country have used to file bankruptcy themselves. We are funded by Harvard University, will never ask you for a credit card, and you can stop at any time.

Get Your Fresh Start