Average Attorney Fees in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Find out how much lawyers charge for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and learn how to find a competent Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer you can afford.

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

If you're wondering how much lawyers charge for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you're not alone. You can expect to pay about $2,000 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, and most filers find it well worth the cost. Ultimately, the amount of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy fees will depend on the complexity of your case, the going rates in your area, bankruptcy lawyer availability, and the lawyer's level of experience.

Once you find a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in your price range, you'll want to ensure the lawyer can provide the services you need. The tips below will help you during the interview process.

How Much Do Lawyers Charge for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

You can expect to pay an experienced Chapter 7 lawyer between $1,500 to $2,500 in attorneys' fees. You might even find a lawyer to represent you for as little as $1,000. However, this price would be an exception, and your case would likely need to be very simple.

Do Chapter 7 Lawyer Fees Differ Depending on Location?

Bankruptcy fees vary by district and differ widely between states. So the average price of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your area might not be so average elsewhere. For instance, you should expect to pay more if you live somewhere with high business costs, such as a large city in California or New York.

You'll likely pay less where the relative cost of living is lower—but not always. For instance, if you live in a rural area with only one busy lawyer practicing bankruptcy law, the fees for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be somewhat higher. Call around and price shop as you would when hiring any service.

Do Higher Chapter 7 Attorney Fees Mean a Lawyer Is Good?

Not necessarily. How much a lawyer charges won't tell you whether a bankruptcy attorney is qualified to represent you. A more accurate determiner would be how often the lawyer is in bankruptcy court. Don't be afraid to ask.

Do Bankruptcy Litigation Lawyers Charge More?

Anytime you're dealing with litigation or an "adversary proceeding" (bankruptcy trial), you can expect to pay more. Many bankruptcy lawyers will file your petition but won't handle an adversary proceeding should your case take a wrong turn. If you suspect someone might sue you after you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, consider hiring a lawyer with bankruptcy litigation experience—even if it costs more.

Learn how to avoid getting sued by a creditor for credit card fraud and why you should avoid running up credit card balances before bankruptcy.

How Can I Find a Good Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Ask around. Your best bet is often hiring a bankruptcy lawyer referred by someone you know. A trusted source, like your accountant or another lawyer, can give you valuable insight into a bankruptcy lawyer's qualifications.

Ultimately, you'll want someone who has practiced bankruptcy law for an appreciable amount of time. This criterion is likely more important than most other factors, including how personable the lawyer might be.

Should I Meet With the Attorney Before Hiring Them?

Yes, either in person or virtually. Even if a lawyer seems perfect over the phone, you'll want a face-to-face meeting with the attorney providing the legal advice. A good paralegal can do much of the work in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Still, the paralegal shouldn't offer legal advice, even if it is inside a law office.

If you're worried about costs, ask whether the lawyer offers a free initial consultation or charges a small amount you can apply to the overall fee if you hire them.

How Will I Know If a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer Is Worth the Cost?

You'll want to evaluate whether the lawyer can deliver needed services. These questions should help.

Which Bankruptcy Chapter Should I File?

Most attorneys will start by qualifying you for a Chapter 7 case. If you don't meet the Chapter 7 means test requirements or need to save a house or car, the lawyer will explain the benefits of Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

How Quickly Can You File My Chapter 7 Case?

When time is of the essence, you'll want to know if the bankruptcy lawyer can file your case immediately using the emergency bankruptcy filing procedure. Be sure to discuss lawsuits, foreclosure, wage garnishments, evictions, and other time-sensitive matters.

Is My Property at Risk?

Although most people can keep everything in bankruptcy, it isn't always the case. You'll want your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer to explain whether you can protect or "exempt" your property in bankruptcy.

Will Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Erase My Debt?

Some debt types, or "nondischargeable debts," aren't erased in bankruptcy. Ask the lawyer to explain whether you can eliminate or "discharge" all of the debts in your case. You might not want to proceed with the case if you find you'll be left repaying your back child support or recent tax debt.

Check Out Unusually Low Advertised Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Fees

Be alert if legal advertisements promise unusually low attorneys' fees for your area. In such cases, verify that the lawyer's fee will cover everything needed in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy before hiring them.

Fortunately, most attorneys live up to their advertised promises, but as with anything, do your homework. Ultimately, you'll want to select the attorney you're most comfortable with and whose fee is within your price range.

Need More Bankruptcy Help?

Did you know Nolo has made the law easy for over fifty years? It's true—and we want to ensure you find what you need. Below you'll find more articles explaining how bankruptcy works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!

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We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

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