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

The North Dakota Homestead Exemption
You'll be able to protect $100,000 in home equity if you file for bankruptcy in North Dakota.
The New York Homestead Exemption
Here's what you need to know about the New York homestead exemption when filing for bankruptcy.
The New Mexico Homestead Exemption
Learn how the New Mexico homestead exemption can protect your home equity from creditors in a bankruptcy case.
The New Jersey Homestead Exemption
New Jersey does not have a homestead exemption, but you can use the federal homestead exemption. Married couples may have another option.
The New Hampshire Homestead Exemption
New Hampshire's homestead exemption allows you to protect up to $120,000 of equity in your home, and twice that amount if you are a married couple filing jointly.
The Nebraska Homestead Exemption
If you're filing bankruptcy in Nebraska, you can protect some equity in your home with Nebraska's homestead exemption.
The Missouri Homestead Exemption
If you file for bankruptcy in Missouri, the homestead exemption will protect some of the equity in your home.
The Minnesota Homestead Exemption
Homeowners in a Minnesota bankruptcy can protect $450,000 of home equity or up to $1,125,000 if the property is primarily used for agriculture.
The Maryland Homestead Exemption
If you live in Maryland and file for bankruptcy, the Maryland homestead exemption protects equity in your home. Learn more.
The Maine Homestead Exemption
If you file for bankruptcy in Maine, the homestead exemption protects between $80,000 and $160,000 of your home equity.