Filing for Bankruptcy? What to Do if You Can't Afford a Lawyer

The process of filing for bankruptcy can be a little intimidating. Most people prefer to have an experienced lawyer by their side because it can help them avoid serious mistakes. However, legal fees can get very expensive and you can not always afford a lawyer. After all, you are filing for bankruptcy, which means you probably do not have much money lying around. If this is the case, there are a few different options that you could take. Here are a few options to consider if you are filing for bankruptcy and can not afford a lawyer on your own. 

Go It Alone

In the United States, you are required to hire a lawyer if you are filing bankruptcy for a partnership or business. However, if you are an individual, you can represent yourself on a bankruptcy. This may not be the most ideal choice to go with, however it may be your only option under certain circumstances.

If you are going to represent yourself, you need to make sure that you do some serious research. The bankruptcy process is very technical and requires a lot of attention to detail. You have to file the proper forms at the proper time or your bankruptcy case could be dismissed. If your bankruptcy is dismissed, you have just spent a lot of time for nothing. You will want to do everything that you can to make sure that you do things correctly. If you do not, the consequences for your financial future could be substantial. 

Free Legal Help

In many areas, you can find free legal help if you can not afford it. This type of legal work is called "pro bono" and many lawyers have special hours set aside to help clients that cannot afford to pay. If you are near a law school, you can usually find free legal help from those involved. They may be required to do so much "pro bono" work before they can become a lawyer. Therefore, it could benefit you to get help from someone that knows what they are doing. 

You can also check with the American Bar Association to see if there is any help available. Often, you can check their website under the "Legal Help" page and find someone that can assist you with this problem.

If you can not find anyone through the American Bar Association that can help, you may be able to get help from your local court. Many local courts have websites that you can check to find free legal help. This could be your best option as it is sure to be someone in your local area. 

Free legal help is obviously not as ideal as hiring an attorney to represent you. However, it is still better than trying to represent yourself in a bankruptcy case. They will at least know the basic process and can help you avoid getting your case dismissed by the judge. 


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