It is difficult to know how to choose a Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy attorney. After all, you are only going to use them once in your lifetime (or so you hope) and it’s not really something that you want to broadcast to your circle of family and friends, so asking for referrals is sometimes difficult. A simple guideline is to find someone that encompasses the three “C’s”: Competence, Cost, and Compassion.

Here’s why they are important:

Your first consideration should be the competence of the bankruptcy lawyer. I am a firm believer that “someone had to graduate at the bottom of their class” and doctors and attorneys are no exception. Now, to get into either profession, you had to have a fairly high degree of intellect or they won’t even let you through the door.

What distinguishes those that graduate at the bottom of the pack? I like to think it’s work ethic and competence.

So the first consideration is always competence. Are they capable of doing the work and do they have the work ethic to do it well and take pride in their outcomes?

The second consideration should be how compassionate they are to those that walk through the door. A bankruptcy practice deals with people who are down on their luck and who have been dealing with financial stress and worry. Do you want an attorney who just sees another case number walk through the door or someone who actually cares about the person, their worries, and wants to help them to the other side? I’ve found that compassion leads to caring about the outcome because it’s connected to a real person with real problems. You want that attorney who cares about you and your case’s outcome.

Finally, cost is important. Many people only care about the cost of filing the case until they go with the low-cost option and their case becomes just another nightmare in their life. Instead of cost, look for value. Look for affordability as defined by being able to comfortably pay the legal fees. You will find that the attorneys who have the first two “C’s” already care about the legal fees and how they impact you. With that said, they also have to pay their staff, overhead, benefits, and their own salaries. A lawyer with all three C’s will offer zero-money-down Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases where you only pay the costs upfront and zero lawyer fees until after your case is filed and with monthly payments that are affordable. They charge a fair price for exceptional work and it’s a win-win for everyone.

The final piece of advice? Don’t choose an attorney that “also does” bankruptcy. We call those the dabblers that pile on when bankruptcy cases start rising. These attorneys are usually the ones who are more interested in quick and easy filings and aren’t well versed in the nuances of a client’s unique situation and more importantly won’t know how to handle unexpected problems (which usually occur because they don’t know bankruptcy law and local practices like a bankruptcy specialist does).