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Money and Shame Prevent Legal Help in Bankruptcy Cases

by LegalMatch

in Bankruptcy Basics, Recommended Reading

This guest blog was written by representatives of LegalMatch, who have been helping consumers find the right attorney on-line since 1999.

Nearly three-fourths of American adults will have at least one event per year that requires help from an attorney, according to a recent survey. But, of those people in need of legal assistance, only about half will actually seek legal advice from an attorney. What accounts for this behavior?

The answer is a combination of practical and emotional concerns.

On the practical side, concerns about the cost of legal help can stop people from even inquiring at law offices. For people considering whether or not to file for bankruptcy, this concern may resonate even more.

This concern, though, is significantly alleviated by free case evaluations. Realizing this, law offices are responding by offering free case evaluations for bankruptcy cases.

The free evaluation, however, does not necessarily help with the emotional concerns. Many people considering filing for bankruptcy experience feelings of shame and guilt. Some people even mistakenly think that filing for bankruptcy means they have done something criminal. These feelings and mistaken beliefs can understandably make people nervous about talking with an attorney about their matter.

The emotional barrier to getting help may be compounded by the public perception of the lawyers. If people do not have confidence in the legal profession, they can be anxious and hesitant to turn over a sensitive matter like bankruptcy to a lawyer. According to a nationwide survey by the American Bar Association (pdf), people’s views are not very positive:

  • Only 14% were extremely or very confident in the legal profession, while 42% were slightly or not at all confident.
  • 43% thought that lawyers do not contribute enough to their community through donations of time, legal services, or money.
  • 51% thought we would be better off with fewer lawyers.
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This is a pretty dim view of lawyers. But, when people describe their specific experience with lawyers, the picture looks a lot brighter. Over half of the people surveyed described being “very satisfied” in their experience with lawyers, while only 11% were “very dissatisfied.”

While people’s perception of lawyers may be disheartening to people who need legal help, they can take solace in knowing that most people who have seen an attorney are satisfied with the help they received.

It also can help to alleviate the emotional concerns of people filing for bankruptcy by finding the right attorney for them. Like good barbers or the right therapist, getting the right individual attorney can make all the difference. Here, free case evaluations and consultations can be extremely helpful in finding the right attorney. Free evaluations give clients a chance to interview attorneys to find one that they like and trust.

There are other obstacles, besides the practical and emotional examples discussed here, which prevent people from seeking legal help. But, for many people it may be helpful just to know that there are low-cost methods for finding the right bankruptcy attorney.

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