Cara O'Neill


Cara O'Neill is a legal editor at Nolo, focusing on bankruptcy and small claims. She also maintains a bankruptcy practice at the Law Office of Cara O’Neill and teaches criminal law and legal ethics as an adjunct professor. Cara has been quoted in bankruptcy, finance, small claims, and litigation articles by news outlets that include USA Today, CNBC, U.S. News & World Report, Nerd Wallet, and Yahoo Finance.

Cara received her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she graduated a member of the Order of the Barristers—a highly-selective honor society that gives national recognition to top law school graduates demonstrating excellent skills in trial advocacy, oral advocacy, and brief writing.

Working at Nolo. Cara started writing for Nolo as a freelancer in 2014 and became a full-time legal editor in 2016. She has authored a number of Nolo self-help legal books, including How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, The New Bankruptcy, Everybody's Guide to Small Claims (national version), and Everybody's Guide to Small Claims in California. She also co-authors and edits Solve Your Money Troubles and Credit Repair and has written hundreds of articles for,,, and

Early legal career. Before joining Nolo, Cara spent 20 years working as a trial attorney litigating criminal and civil cases. She also served as an administrative law judge mediating disputes between auto manufacturers and dealerships and began teaching law as an adjunct professor in 2004. She added bankruptcy to her practice after the 2008 financial downturn.

Origins of litigation and writing career. Thanks to her mother, Cara’s advocacy training began early and involuntarily. In junior high school, she took second place two years running in the local Optimist Club speaking competition. She also successfully competed on her high school speech and debate team for several years, eventually serving as president of the same. During law school, she competed on a nationally ranked ABA moot court team for two years (and was recruited for a third, but declined) and served as a law journal editor.

Articles By Cara O'Neill

I got a cash gift before my Chapter 7 case closed. Can the bankruptcy trustee take it?
For the most part, cash gifts you receive after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are yours to keep. Learn the details.
I just put some big charges on my credit card. Should I wait to file for bankruptcy?
Learn what you should know about filing for bankruptcy after recently using your credit cards.
Bankruptcy FAQ (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13)
Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy: what you need to know.
Decide If Bankruptcy Is Right for You
Is bankruptcy a good idea or not? Here are some things to consider.
Should I File for Bankruptcy FAQ
Deciding if bankruptcy is right for you? Here are answers to your most common questions.
Alternatives to Bankruptcy
Explore alternatives to Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy before you file.
Can Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Help After a Foreclosure Notice?
I just received a foreclosure notice from the bank. Can I save my home if I file for chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Can Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Help Me Get My Driver's License Back?
If you've lost your driver's license due to unpaid traffic fines, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may help reduce your debt so you can pay the fines and get your license back.
Is Social Security Income Counted in the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test?
Are Social Security and Unemployment Income Counted in the Bankruptcy Means Test?
Are Veterans Benefits Income Under the Chapter 7 Means Test?
You must include veterans' benefits as income under the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test.