Although this is not something that I am asked very often, it does come up from time to time in conversations that I have with new clients, and I wanted to address this topic in more detail.
The simple answer is, no – you do not technically need to hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy relief. Why am I telling you this? Simply because it is the truth.
That being said, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 did make it almost impossible for an ordinary person without legal training to properly complete and file the necessary paperwork to successfully complete a bankruptcy. One miscalculation, one improperly completed form, or missing one single deadline can send all do-it-yourself efforts spiraling toward failure. What if one mistake costs you your house or your car?
So while technically true – you can file bankruptcy all by yourself – why would you gamble away your opportunity to regain your financial freedom? There are often stigmas in society surrounding the practice of law, and while I don’t deny that there are unscrupulous individuals, overall the practice of law follows time honored traditions of fighting for the rights of clients – regardless of the area of specialization and expertise. Bankruptcy law has an added level of consumer protection against unsavory business practices in that the fees attorneys and trustees are allowed to charge for their services are highly regulated by the bankruptcy courts themselves and full accounting disclosures are required to clients and court officials alike.
So again, why gamble with your financial future when you can have an advocate in your corner representing your best interests and fighting for you every step of the way?