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Facts to Know About Free Legal Services

Facts to Know About Free Legal Services

When an agency identifies
as a “bankruptcy service,” the
information seeker should definitely be wary. Numerous bankruptcy
services may not exactly be clear as to what they are providing, or may
nonetheless indicate as much but leave the terms of service ambiguous or
curiously absent, so that what is billed as a “free bankruptcy
service” may be anything but once one has finished using it and the actual
bill arrives.


It can be difficult to know which
paid bankruptcy services to trust, let alone a free service. Still,
for debtors who don’t really have much of an option in facing tons of debt and
relatively low levels of income, a free bankruptcy service may be all
they are willing or able to manage. Thankfully, there is hope for these people
to gain access to legal services, and for little to no cost to boot.


Below are some bankruptcy services that
may be available in an individual’s area, some of which give consideration to
one’s socioeconomic status:


One of the most logical places to find a
free bankruptcy service would be to go through public channels to solicit
legal assistance. Granted, such a service is only free to prospective clients,
as these avenues subsist on tax dollars and charitable donations. Still, as far
as these petitioners are concerned, the benefits justify the means.


Federal and state agencies run their own
bankruptcy services as conduits of civil aid for disaffected Americans. The
Legal Services Corporation, for example, is a non-profit
Federally-funded organization offering grants to legal
services agencies across the nation that are then funneled down to individual
applicants, many of whom are women, economically challenged and/or minorities.


Speaking of disadvantaged populations,
certain financial breaks may be offered to filers in consideration of their
circumstances. Of course, not every free legal program authorized in this vein
is necessarily going to be a bankruptcy service. Some of these systems of
relief may be contingent on extreme situations, such as women who are victims
of abuse or who have been diagnosed with/treated for breast cancer.
Nonetheless, for older Americans and people who served in the U.S. Armed
Forces, irrespective of race, gender, or health, free bankruptcy
services may be


Some services may be free of charge, but will
come from individuals rather than whole organizations. Of course, a
particular bankruptcy service may be the product of a partnership or
a subset of a public agency. Just the same, individual attorneys at law

may offer their services pro bono, working for citizens’ good and not asking
for a flat fee or hourly rate. Seeing as there is such a high demand for
bankruptcy services with the way our nation’s economy continues to limp
along, pro bono representation will continue to be requested
in high numbers.   

Read This Before Soliciting Free Legal Information

Read This Before Soliciting Free Legal Information

Truly, some free bankruptcy services may actually involve representation by a legal professional. A usual good rule of thumb in soliciting free bankruptcy help is to stick to official sources whenever possible. This may be rather difficult, though, as there may be a fair amount of free bankruptcy information from just government channels and other affiliated organizations, seeing as the Federal Government plays such a strong part in proceedings relative to individual states. That said, some choices make more sense than others. For one, the U.S. Courts’ official website provides a great deal of information for the public. 
For the amateur bankruptcy law student, compiling this information for academic use may take untold amounts of time. As noted, there is much free bankruptcy information to be had across media. While attorneys may offer supposedly free bankruptcy help in the form of initial consultations, oftentimes even these meetings will come with a price tag attached.
Accordingly, it may be more advantageous for people with a vested interest in this material to allow those who are genuine legal students and professionals to do much of the legwork for them. Another fountain of bankruptcy knowledge and overall insight of the workings of the law are legal clinics within renowned universities, such as The Legal Information Institute.         
These avenues to free bankruptcy advice both assume that a) the information seeker owns a computer and b) is computer literate or otherwise willing to use this option. Of course, one may also be able to use public utilities (e.g. library PC’s) in his/her search, and if they are unfamiliar with using the Internet to research, can simply ask someone to help them.
Just the same, despite their desperation, many people would probably not want to tell others they are bankrupt. As such, they may prefer to go a more private, anonymous, less computer-oriented route. Many courts and other State/Federal agencies advertise toll-free hotlines for those inquiring about bankruptcy policy specifics and will even accept information from callers in the event they (the callers) suspect fraud. 

Learn About Foreclosure Attorneys

Learn About Foreclosure Attorneys

A foreclosure lawyer will be keen
to see his or her clients avoid having their property taken away at the hands
of creditors, noting some of the ill effects of this decision. Still, one of this
lawyer’s key functions is to negotiate alternatives for the homeowner that may
not be ideal either, but will be superior options all the same.


Prior to a foreclosure sale,
a foreclosure attorney may be able to help his or her client try to
put off debt by securing an extra mortgage (usually a second mortgage, but
potentially a third or fourth mortgage and so on) that will allow for the
represented party to take out extra money in loans against the house as a
security. It should be noted, though, that a second mortgage does not nullify
the first and, in fact, stands behind the first mortgage in terms of priority.
Consequently, defaulting on either mortgage may still lead to a lender’s appeal
for a foreclosure sale, making this a risky maneuver in its own right and
something of which a foreclosure lawyer should apprise his or her client.


Perhaps a better option that
a foreclosure attorney could take the lead in bargaining for would be
the restructuring of debt. Ways to achieve this include the extension/refinancing
of existing mortgages, the issuance of a forbearance (i.e. a postponement of
collections), or negotiating what is known as a “partial claim”


There are a lot of choices available to
homeowner-debtors. Still, to what extent these are long-term options is
dubious. Loan payment forbearance, for instance, is by nature meant to be
temporary and will do nothing to cancel out debts
. Ultimately, it may only amount to stalling on the
investor’s part.


A more drastic, large-scale solution to
mortgage-related debts is to sell the property to offset one’s financial
obligations to the lender, something a foreclosure lawyer should be able
to facilitate or render an opinion on. This route may manifest itself in a
pre-foreclosure “short sale,” in which the lender will agree to
swallow the loss of the sale relative to the debt still owed on the mortgage,
or a “deed in lieu of foreclosure,” in which the debtor serves up the
deed to the house in exchange for a cancellation of existing monies owed on the


Then again, a foreclosure attorney may
end up
advising his or her client to opt for Chapter 7
or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

What are Petition Preparers

What are Petition Preparers

Debtors who are unfamiliar with the
bankruptcy filing process may assume that only they or their attorneys are
afforded the ability to complete a formal application for relief under the Bankruptcy
. However, this is not the case. An individual may also hire a
bankruptcy petition preparer for this task.


As for what a bankruptcy petition
preparer is supposed to do, Section 110 is fairly explicit as to what
forms are to be filled out and how. Bankruptcy petition preparers are to
sign their name and address on the completed document, as well as the names of any
other persons involved with its preparation, and
then submit this petition to the
applicant party to sign where necessary. It must be stressed that
a bankruptcy petition preparer cannot submit this form on the
debtor’s behalf as per the letter of the law.


This incapacity of bankruptcy petition preparers
to file the petitions they ready for the sake of bankruptcy seekers is just the
proverbial tip of the iceberg, though, in terms of how they are restricted by
the Bankruptcy Code. As much as the bankruptcy petition preparer is not a
stand-in for the debtor, he/she/it is not a surrogate for the debtor’s legal
representative. Appointed bankruptcy petition preparers are at no point in
the completion of the application form to confer legal advice on prospective
relief seekers. Among the things they are forbidden to influence debtors

: whether or not they should file
for bankruptcy
, under what chapter of Title 11 is most
appropriate for them to file,
and whether their debts can be discharged.


Moreover, bankruptcy law is very strict when
it comes to the compensation a bankruptcy petition preparer may receive.
Going back to Section 110, bankruptcy petition preparers may only
receive a certain maximum
fee for the services they render, an amount
nailed down by either the Supreme Court or the Judicial Conference of the
United States. Furthermore, they may not accept monies associated with the
filing fees design
ated for the court. 

Fact You Must Know About Pro Se Bankruptcy Litigation

Fact You Must Know About Pro Se Bankruptcy Litigation

Many people may be too scared to represent
themselves in court in any fashion, let alone traverse the proverbial murky
waters of filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer. Even after the passage of the Bankruptcy
Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005

(BAPCPA) pro se representation has remained high. As of mid-2008, in fact, it
was actually on the upswing, yielding nearly 20,000 filings per a three-month


Such trends in pro se representation are rather
alarming to bankruptcy jurists and other experts on the subject, and not just
in light of concurrent spikes in bankruptcy filings overall. The following are
some considerations of the potential complications when declaring bankruptcy
without a lawyer:


As evidenced by the tens of thousands of
filings each year, pro se representation in bankruptcy
court is not illegal. On the contrary, in terms of acceptability under the law,
representing oneself in court for affairs of bankruptcy without a
lawyer is perfectly admissible. That said, this does not exactly
mean pro se representation is recommended.


One reason pro se filings
are considered questionable is the nature of bankruptcy law. Perhaps more so
than any other form of law, bankruptcy procedure is insistent on the exactitude
and accuracy of
the documentation filed. If self-representing
debtors fail to include any forms at all amidst the act of applying, they may
find their case dismissed, their ability to re-apply compromised, and their
protection from creditors endangered. Even with 
on the market, this can still be too complex for the average American to
accomplish on his/her own.


Still before even getting to the actual
hearing to confirm a liquidation or reorganization plan, the need to disclose
all details correctly in a plan is of paramount concern. For those filing for
bankruptcy without a lawyer, with neither the expertise in bankruptcy law nor a
dialog with a professional to help catch all the possible sources of
obligations via borrowing (i.e. credits and creditors), insolvent parties may
be guilty of wrongdoing without knowing it. In breaking the rules, applicants
may get off easy by simply having those unreported debts refused to be
. However, they may be charged
with the crime of abuse/fraud.


On top of the possible unlawfulness of pro
 representation, for it to even be effective a self-representing
party has to have a solid familiarity with the statutes behind the workings of
bankruptcy court. At the
Federal level, all bankruptcy courts are bound
by the provisions of Title 11, namely the Bankruptcy Code
, as well as the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.

What You Should Look for In A Bankruptcy Law Firms

What You Should Look for In A Bankruptcy Law Firms

Some large-scale law firms will try to drum
up business by offering an array of services and knowledge in several areas of
the law. Some smaller law firms, meanwhile, will feature legal professionals
banding together under one particular branch of the law, offering both the
specialization of their chosen category (as opposed to these catch-all
agencies) and the personal attention that other, bigger
firms will not be able to match. Thus, what the latter
perhaps lacks in name recognition and expansiveness of topics covered it may
more than make up for in the quality of assistance it provides.


With bankruptcy law firms, the same
considerations apply. A particular law office may not be a bankruptcy law
firm per sé, but just the same, it may offer a number of attorneys
with a concentration in this field. As for entities that expressly label
themselves as bankruptcy law firms, they might not feature as many options
as far as individual lawyers go, but they are just as likely if not more so to know
what they are doing.


Some notes on what to look for in a
bankruptcy law firm depending on your intent moving forward:


The majority of bankruptcy law firms are
going to be centered around providing services that are among the most requested
by petitioners. In terms of bankruptcy statistics in the United States, these
are liquidation and rehabilitation programs for everyday people and parties
.  Indeed, bankruptcy law firms may be more narrow-minded
when it comes to application of their knowledge to a specific division of the


That said, a bankruptcy law
firm may take more than just bankruptcy law into consideration, especially
if those
areas are tangential to bankruptcy
and may be relevant to the conversation. For
example, as bankruptcy may manifest itself in the closing of stores and the
foreclosure of homes, attorneys within a given bankruptcy law
firm may
also be proficient in business law and real
estate law. This way, legal professionals can offer a more personal approach to
dispensing legal advice while being a greater source of information overall for


Heretofore, the role of bankruptcy law
firms in affecting the outcomes of bankruptcy cases has only been considered in
terms of the potential benefit to applicants in getting what they need to
overcome their debt. We would be remiss, however, if we did not consider that
creditors have rights and their own interests for requesting to settle matters
before a bankruptcy judge. Though most bankruptcy proceedings are brought on by
a voluntary petition from debtors, lenders might seek a bankruptcy law
firm for a number of purposes, such as requesting bankruptcy to recoup
monies from delinquent debtors
and filing proofs
of claim