Do I have to see an attorney that practices in the same county I reside?

28 Jul Do I have to see an attorney that practices in the same county I reside?

You live in one county, you are considering an attorney in a different county — does it matter? Do you have to see an attorney in the same county you live? (This is part of what you might be considering when you consider who to hire.

Whether the attorney needs to be in the same county where you live, the short answer is, no, you probably do not, but it depends on several factors, and the longer answer might end up being that you want to, even if you do not have to.

The bankruptcy attorney is licensed for the entire state state because that’s how licenses are issued, so that’s not the issue. And the attorney is admitted most likely for the specific bankruptcy court of all the counties in your state, although possibly not — but it would be surprising if the attorney had not gotten admitted in all the federal court districts in her state, and she surely would tell you if she were not for the court in which you had to file.

To me there are three practical issues to be considering when you consider where your attorney’s office is:

(1) is it convenient for you and will you easily travel back and forth as needed?

(2) will the attorney have to travel an unacceptable distance to your Creditors’ Meeting, possibly adding to your costs for the bankruptcy?

(3) has the attorney worked with the trustee who covers the county in which you live, understand what the trustee is looking for and how to work with the trustee? It’s a kind of “local culture” issue — an attorney gets to know the people she works with, but doesn’t necessarily know the ones with whom she does not work. She can ask other local attorneys, of course.

All these issues mean there’s not likely to be any prohibition on using an attorney whose office is not in your county. When in doubt, ask the attorney whether these issues matter, how they effect, if at all, the representation you are seeking.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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