3 Reasons to Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney Who Lives Locally
By Tracy L. Hirsch
If you live in the Louisville metro area, is your prospective bankruptcy attorney a resident of Western Kentucky or Southern Indiana? If not, you may run into problems.
Early on in the pandemic, court hearings for bankruptcy filings were switched from in-person meetings at the Courthouse, to phone meetings and Zoom meetings. This has turned into a permanent change for the foreseeable future.
While this is certainly more convenient for local bankruptcy attorneys and debtors alike, this has now allowed out-of-state attorneys to advertise their services in Louisville and southern Indiana.
Some attorneys — who aren’t local residents — have opened up satellite offices nearby, and are doing long-distance filings over the phone.
While this in and of itself is not illegal or “wrong,” it has the potential to present several problems for local residents who hire these attorneys.
Here are the problems that working with an out-of-area attorney can cause, and the reasons you should choose a bankruptcy attorney who is a local resident just like you:
Hiring a locally-based bankruptcy attorney — and not a national, corporate attorney — will help you in the long-run.
1.) A local attorney knows the ins and outs of Kentucky and Indiana bankruptcy local rules.
While federal bankruptcy laws apply to every individual who files in the U.S., there are additional rules for different states, and even for different districts within each state.
A bankruptcy lawyer who is based out of another state will not be as well-versed with each set of local rules that apply to the districts of southern Indiana, western Kentucky, and eastern Kentucky (in comparison to a locally-based attorney).
If you see a bankruptcy attorney with offices in multiple states, this means that they are not local to the Louisville metro area. Many of them have main offices in cities like Chicago, IL, and then have satellite offices in other cities and states, such as New Albany, IN and Louisville, KY.
The attorneys who run the satellite offices may or may not be well-versed in the local rules, and there isn’t really a way to know for sure ahead of time. Lack of familiarity can cause frustration for all individuals involved, which can easily be alleviated by hiring someone local to your area.
If you decide to file for bankruptcy, it’s vitally important for your attorney to know the bankruptcy rules for our local districts inside and out. If they don’t, this could lead to major issue in your case.
This leads us to our next point about why you should choose an attorney who is a local resident:
2.) You know who your attorney is ahead of time when choosing one who has been a long-time resident, and most of them have been practicing bankruptcy law in this region for many years.
When large, corporate, out-of-state law firms advertise in the Louisville Metro area, they may have a well-known face attached to them, but that well-known attorney won’t actually be your bankruptcy attorney. You’ll be assigned an attorney in a satellite office, and you usually can’t find out who it is ahead of time.
The problem this presents is that it impedes some of the research you may do beforehand to find out who will be the best fit for you.
Most local bankruptcy attorneys in western Kentucky and southern Indiana have their own websites where you can find information about each lawyer’s background, how long they’ve been practicing in the Louisville metro area, and so on.
With a large, out-of-state firm that has a satellite office in our area, there usually isn’t detailed information about the attorney who works for that office. Generally speaking, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t a qualified attorney, however, it’s hard to know their exact qualifications.
And once again, if they aren’t a local resident, they most like won’t have familiarity with local bankruptcy rules, which could possibly result in mistakes being made in your bankruptcy case.
Additionally, if there are complications in your case, you’ll need an attorney who has years of experience with the trustees and judges in this geographical area so that resolutions can be quick and painless.
3.) You have the option to meet with your local bankruptcy attorney in person.
While many corporate bankruptcy firms have satellite offices, it doesn’t guarantee that there are attorneys in those offices. Quite often, those offices are there just to establish a local branch where they receive mail, and they may only have a staff person working there.
It’s important to find out if your bankruptcy attorney is a local resident, as there are many instances where meeting in person with your attorney is much more advantageous than talking over the phone.
While there’s nothing wrong with phone consultations or even filing your case over the phone, having the option to have a personal, face-to-face conversation is ideal.
You never know when an issue may come up, where you need to review multiple documents with your attorney, or attend to a similar type of issue that requires looking at details in person.
As you can see, there are many advantages to hiring an attorney who has been practicing bankruptcy law in the greater Louisville area for many years.
I would encourage anyone who is considering bankruptcy to only book consultations with locally-based attorneys, as we work exclusively with residents in Kentucky and southern Indiana, and not in multiple states.
This leads to better outcomes for our clients, which is the ultimate goal — helping southern Indiana and Kentucky residents gets the fresh start that they deserve.
All the best,
Tracy L. Hirsch
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