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Can I Change Lawyers During Bankruptcy?

— November 3, 2020

Ultimately, whether one should change a lawyer during bankruptcy is contingent on a myriad of factors that should be judged on a case by case basis.

Whether you are an individual, couple, or business caught in a difficult financial situation, you have probably considered your potential options; one of them is filing for bankruptcy. From there, you researched your best options, hired a bankruptcy lawyer to advise you through the complicated process. Now, you are finally back on the road to financial freedom and recovery. But, what happens if you are unhappy with the services that your bankruptcy attorney is providing? What if the lawyer you hired fails to do their work adequately, leaving you to wonder if you can change attorneys during bankruptcy? While the short answer is yes, these are some things to consider before deciding to change lawyers during bankruptcy. 

Why You Might Consider Changing Your Bankruptcy Lawyer 

When hiring a bankruptcy attorney, you are seeking experienced advice and guidance to help you through the complex and arduous bankruptcy process. However, you may find yourself in a situation where the particular attorney you hired was not a proper fit. Some of these reasons may cause slight inconveniences, while others may prevent you from successfully pursuing your bankruptcy case. Regarding the latter, here are a few red flags that might make you consider changing your bankruptcy lawyer.

  • Your current lawyer, or a representative from their office, habitually fails to return your calls or respond to emails.
  • Your bankruptcy attorney misses or is continually late to appointments or bankruptcy hearings. 
  • Your bankruptcy lawyer fails to provide you with competent advice. More specifically, failing to inform you of your rights and responsibilities, or the bankruptcy process at large. 
  • Your attorney misses important filing deadlines with the court, such as filing tax returns or submitting any required documentation, or necessary forms. 

While some of these shortcomings may seem nominal, other mistakes may lead to your case being dismissed altogether!

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

The Drawbacks to Changing Your Lawyer During Bankruptcy

Although you may currently find yourself in a less than perfect working relationship with your bankruptcy attorney, you should first try your best to solve any issues. Switching your lawyer partway through the bankruptcy process should be reserved as a last resort because it could lead to:

  • delays and more time involved in your case.
  • complications regarding attorneys’ fees.
  • increased attorneys’ fees.
  • more complex paperwork for you, your attorney, and the court. 

What is the Process of Changing Lawyers During Bankruptcy

In most cases, before changing lawyers during a bankruptcy case, you must first seek approval from the court. This is typically done by filing a substitution of attorney pleading. Before being filed, the substitution is signed by the client, old attorney, and new attorney. 

While seeking a new attorney, it is crucial to discuss and clearly understand how your new attorney and your previous attorney will be compensated. Additionally, it is advisable to sign a fee agreement with your new attorney. This will help mitigate any complications and increases in attorneys’ fees. Separately, keep in mind that bankruptcy is a specialized area of law. Meaning, not all attorneys have the necessary experience and skill set to guide you through the process effectively. 

Ultimately, whether one should change a lawyer during bankruptcy is contingent on a myriad of factors that should be judged on a case by case basis. Contact a leading Hackensack Bankruptcy Attorney for your free consultation today to discuss your unique circumstances.

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