The Dangers of Using a Paralegal to File for Bankruptcy
Many bankruptcy lawyers receive many panicked calls from consumers who have tried to file for bankruptcy on their own. Everything seemed to be going smoothly but then, suddenly, they realized that they did not fill out the paperwork properly. As a result, some consumers have their petitions rejected by the bankruptcy court.
As a compromise, some consumers hire paralegals, trusting them to give them sound legal advice at a fraction of the cost that a lawyer charges. This is also a terrible route to take for the following reasons.
A Paralegal Cannot Offer Legal Advice
In Florida, anyone can call themselves a “paralegal.” There is no required course of instruction and no tests that someone must pass. Although some paralegals earn certificates and other degrees, this education falls far short of the training a bankruptcy lawyer has.
In Florida, every lawyer has completed three years of law school and passed a difficult bar exam. They have been trained to research novel legal issue and untangle thorny bankruptcy laws. When lawyers practice exclusively in the bankruptcy area, they quickly build up a base of knowledge that no paralegal can match.
Only lawyers are licensed to give legal advice in Florida. Paralegals work under the direction of an attorney, but they cannot give legal advice on their own. If they try, they have committed an unauthorized practice of law.
Only a Lawyer Can Help You Choose Which Bankruptcy Chapter to File
Consumers generally choose between Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. You can do all the research you want online, but these laws have many hidden wrinkles that only a lawyer will know about. If you choose the wrong chapter, you might never get on top of your debts or you could irreversibly harm your finances. Consult with a bankruptcy attorney to understand which bankruptcy chapter is right for you.
A Lawyer Can Help with Unusual Bankruptcies
Not every bankruptcy is straightforward. Instead, any number of roadblocks can be thrown in your path which require immediate attention. For example, you might experience any of the following:
- A creditor tries to get the automatic stay lifted to seize your car or other collateral.
- The trustee tries to void certain transfers made right before you filed for bankruptcy.
- The trustee accuses you of fraud for filling your paperwork out wrong.
- You want to reaffirm a loan, such as a car loan, so that you can keep your car.
In these situations, you will need to file paperwork with the court to reach a favorable result. You might even need to make legal arguments that require familiarity with bankruptcy law. Only a lawyer can help you.
Speak with a Plantation Bankruptcy Lawyer
When bankruptcies go wrong, consumers can spend thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess. It is best to start off on the right foot. Hire a qualified Florida bankruptcy attorney to file your petition in the court. At Nowack & Olson, our team stands by ready to help in whatever way we can. Contact us in Plantation for a free consultation.