22 Jun You get what you pay for with cheap bankruptcy advice.
C. C. Chapman is a big shot in the world of marketing and motivational speaking. He sells advice, not bankruptcy advice, but he talks and people listen. He tells people what he knows and he does it at events big and small. For the right price, he is the go-to-guy. And that price can be big or small, depending on the circumstances, because he figured out the need to charge for his services based on his value. And he measures value based on the needs of his clients. In doing so, he also learned to say no to people who do not value his time â€“ people who want something for free.
In his blog, www.cc-chapman.com/2012/a-lesson-in-saying-no/, he tells why he turned down an offer to speak for free to a group who told him â€œwe get the same quality from people we pay or donâ€™t pay.â€
C. C. believes experience is knowledge that should not be handed over for free to one person and charged to another. I agree, and I believe legal knowledge achieved through years of study and experience should not be undervalued.
C. C. explains how committing to an event costs him time and requires his sacrifice. He is away from family; he cannot accept other work during that time; and the time he gives to one person or group event takes time away from him.
*****Special thanks to my colleague, New York bankruptcy and marketing specialist Jay Fleischman for sending me this article. [Jay, â€˜cause of actionâ€™ relates to â€˜isâ€™ relates to â€˜includedâ€™.]*****
Time is valuable so it should not be wasted on someone who does not appreciate that value.
Often potential bankruptcy clients look for the cheapest lawyer with the free consultation. If your phone rings as often as mine you would know many people are facing economic hardship and looking for debt relief. If you offered a free half hour consultation to each one you would not have time to spend with family, work on your own projects or accept paying clients. Your day could literally be filled with free consults.
And what are those free consults doing? They are not valuing your time or your service. Well, in a sense, they are paying you exactly what they think you are worth. Free = $0. And quite possibly that is what they are getting.
Can an attorney evaluate a complicated bankruptcy case and determine which assets are exempt and which debts are dischargeable during a 15 minute consultation?
Spend 5 minutes in the waiting room, 5 more on introductions, and another 5 minutes telling the attorney why you cannot pay your bills. That leaves no time for an analysis of your property, no time for an analysis of your income or expenses, and no time to learn your past financial history. So, after 15 minutes the attorney has said very little and offered no solutions because no one looked at your pay stubs, looked at your tax returns or investigated the facts of your case. That stuff takes hours to do. To those potential clients looking for the cheapest attorney: There are attorneys who are not busy, who do not value their time any more than you do, and who are willing to give you free advice that is worth what you are willing to pay – $0. You can even find typists, who call themselves petition preparers, that will only charge you a hundred dollars to type up bankruptcy paperwork and then will send you to court on your own, to represent yourself, â€˜pro seâ€™. Pro se is a Latin term that means you are going to swim in a court room of sharks all by yourself and without your own shark [lawyer].
See Jay Fleischmanâ€™s article Reason 487 To Hire A Lawyer For Your Bankruptcy Case: Judicial Estoppel to see how you could lose assets by using a cheap inexperienced petition preparer. And just because you hire the cheapest lawyer does not mean you are going to receive quality work.
Wisconsin Chief Bankruptcy Judge Pamela Pepper recently sanctioned one such person $5000, an attorney, who charged bottom basement legal fees and provided about the same quality legal work, according to the Judge in Eastern District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Case Number 12-25456.
Judge Pepper found that this attorney charged between $200 and $450â€¦that his clients did not know he would not be their attorney in courtâ€¦that some cases were sent to a non-attorney petition preparer who charged an additional $75â€¦and the attorneyâ€™s services were not worth what he charged, and included the use of documents downloaded for free from the courtâ€™s website and other documents containing incorrect information about bankruptcy. Several of those clients had their case dismissed. Dismissed means the case was not successful and the debts were not wiped out.
Bankruptcy is a system of complex laws and rules. Subjecting oneself and oneâ€™s assets to bankruptcy court has consequences. A seasoned lawyer is trained to investigate and apply knowledge and valuable experience to the facts of a case so that those laws and rules produce a favorable result for the debtor. And those are the lawyers who your friends recommend to their friends. Past client referrals are the number one source of business for bankruptcy attorneys. Some people want cheap lawyers; but everyone wants positive results. You often cannot find both.
In C. C.’s blog link that I gave you above, one of his readers commented “many people speak without fees, but they aren’t necessarily “professional” speakers. That’s why there’s so much confusion…” I think she agrees with me that you get what you pay for.
Andy Miofsky, Esq.
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