I’LL SAY IT AGAIN… DO NOT HIRE PARALEGALS!
A week does not go by where I do not have a prospective client say “… but I spoke to a paralegal who said they can file my bankruptcy for only $500.00.” And each and every time I simply respond, “Yes… I’m sure they did. That’s because they are NOT lawyers and will only be providing you with minimal service. I mean, would you have a nurse operate on you if they told you they would charge you half the price the doctor would charge??” Yeah, I thought so…
I don’t blame people though. Everyone’s on a budget these days and if you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy, then there’s no question that you’re in financial difficulty. In the grand scheme of things, the price difference between hiring a paralegal versus hiring an experienced and licensed attorney is minimal when you take into consideration the vast difference in the quality of service provided. Not to mention, it’s BANKRUPTCY!!! Bankruptcy is said to be one of life’s biggest decisions. This is not the time or place to cut corners people!
So let me just break it down for you… PARALEGALS VS. ATTORNEYS….
Paralegal services charge a minimal fee to prepare and file the necessary paperwork to file a bankruptcy. Since Paralegals and other “bankruptcy petition preparers” are strictly prohibited from practicing law, they are prohibited from giving legal advice and asking the necessary questions to make sure you are completing your paperwork fully and completely. Here are just some examples of the kinds of advice they are prohibited from giving you… 1. They cannot advise you on how to take the proper exemptions to protect the assets you have. Failure to do so could result in you losing those assets in a bankruptcy case. For instance, you may assume there is no problem with listing a particular asset, or reaffirming a particular debt, only to find out months or even years from now, that because you filed the bankruptcy or didn’t take appropriate steps, you are still liable for that debt.
First and foremost, paralegals cannot represent you in court if the need should arise (chances are if you did hire a paralegal, you will end up in court explaining the discrepancies in your petition). They are also NOT liable to you if they make a mistake. Moreover, mistakes, omissions, and discrepancies in your petition become YOUR mistake. Ultimately, the debtor may will expend several thousand dollars to attempt to remedy a situation that could have been avoided from the start.
On that note, I suggest you save your time, money, and energy by hiring an attorney. Paralegals lack accountability given their non-professional status. Bankruptcy is a big decision, so you better make the right decision… HIRE AN ATTORNEY, NOT A PARALEGAL.