You do not need a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. You can research the process yourself, complete and file the forms, and appear in court on your own.
However, bankruptcy law is complex, and it is therefore strongly recommended that any individual, partnership or corporation considering filing for bankruptcy, first obtain the advice of a competent bankruptcy attorney. Most bankruptcy attorneys will have a first meeting with you for free, or for a small charge, so that they can help you review your options.
If you file bankruptcy without legal representation, you will be held responsible for knowing the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and you will not be given any special consideration by the court or the United States Trustee’s Office.
If you miss a deadline, fail to perform a required task, or fail to respond properly to an action, your bankruptcy case could be dismissed, you could be denied your discharge from bankruptcy, or you may lose property which you might otherwise have been entitled to keep.
The Clerk’s Office at your local bankruptcy court is prohibited by law from providing legal advice. Paralegals and typing services are also prohibited by law from providing legal advice. Only an attorney may provide legal advice.
Note: Under federal law (18 U.S. CODE, §§ 152 – 155) bankruptcy fraud is a serious crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The F.B.I. investigates allegations of bankruptcy fraud. If you are unsure about whether or not an asset needs to be disclosed, you should consult an attorney.
Whether you are considering filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, bankruptcy is a serious legal procedure, governed by federal law, and therefore the advice of a competent bankruptcy attorney is strongly recommended.