This article will give you a background on attorney fees for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In another article, we will provide some information about attorney fees for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
Some attorneys price their services on an hourly basis, while others price their services as a flat fee. Most of the time, when attorneys are working on a Chapter 7 case, they will opt for a flat fee. The reasons for this are pretty simple. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is fairly straightforward and predictable. That’s not to say that it’s easy, it’s just to say that it’s predictable. If an attorney is unable to predict, with accuracy, how much effort will be involved in a case, then it’s not really possible for him to price his services on a flat fee basis. But when the attorney is able to predict, then he has the option of pricing his services on a flat fee basis.
Of course, it’s still up to the individual attorney to exercise that option. Why would an attorney exercise that option? Well, notwithstanding all the lawyer jokes that are out there, most attorneys are not bent on gouging people for money. Most attorneys are just middle class people trying to make a living, like you and me. They know that their clients would probably feel more comfortable with a flat fee, and they know that the likelihood of their clients contesting a charge is a lot lower if they offer flat fees, so when they have the option of offering flat fees, they will usually take it.
How much is the fee? Well, as with all things in the legal industry, the answer is that “it depends”. It depends on the lawyer, it depends on the location, it even depends on the time of year! For example, a bankruptcy lawyer in Los Angeles will probably charge quite a bit more than a bankruptcy lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama. As for time of year, it happens that a ton of people rush to file bankruptcy in January. Perhaps the reason for this is that people make getting out of debt one of their New Years resolutions. At any rate, with so many people rushing to file in January, many bankruptcy lawyers temporarily raise their rates. It’s not evil, it’s just supply and demand.
So although you can’t say what the “average” fee is, it is possible to give a range. Attorney fees for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy tend to be anywhere from $500 to $1,500 (If you want to find out what the range is in your area, click here).
You should beware of any attorney that quotes you a price outside of that range. For example, some attorneys will say “Only $100 Starts Your Chapter 7”. The low price tag is alluring, but that doesn’t really represent the full price – that’s just a down payment.
You should also be wary if the quote is too high. If an attorney quotes you $2,000 for Chapter 7, then you should probably look elsewhere. Unlike a divorce proceeding, or a criminal defense trial, there isn’t a ton of artistry involved in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. You fill out a form, and you submit the form to the government. The government either approves the form, or it doesn’t. There isn’t much of a difference between a good Chapter 7 and a great Chapter 7, so you shouldn’t pay much more for one than the other.