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    Is it worth finding a new attorney?

    Has anyone switched attorneys in the middle of their chapter 13? Was it a huge headache?

    Our attorney is super smart and knows the trustee and system well, when he actually responds. But he doesn’t reply to us or submit things to the court in a timely situation, so now we are in a terrible situation. We asked in February for him to submit a request for temporary lower payments due to a new roof deductible as well as a modification due to our son’s increased medical expenses. He told us to move forward repairing the roof and get him documentation paperwork and he would submit everything by March 8th. That came and went and it was radio silence. Called and left voicemails, emailed repeatedly. We got the roof repaired and the mortgage company endorsed the insurance check and then sent it to our trustee. Well our trustee has no information about our property damage but that is not our fault. We have no idea what is going to happen now and we owe the roofer $30k. Our lawyer finally responded a couple weeks ago and sent us loan modification documents to sign and now radio silence again. PACER doesn’t show any activity at all, so we don’t even think he’s sent the stuff to the trustee. Additionally, we gave him our tax return as soon as it was filed and last year he didn’t send it to the trustee and she filed a motion, so we don’t trust that he’s sent that either.

    In October we will be 2 years into the chapter 13 and I don’t know if I can do 3 more years of this. I have constant anxiety, I’m probably racking up a huge PACER bill checking for updates. It’s true when they says bankruptcy affects every part of your life, things you just don’t even see coming. The idea that the mortgage company would send the check to the trustee when she can’t even cash it makes no sense to me. My only hope is she forwards it along with no fuss, but I kind of doubt it. It’s also infuriating to me that the mortgage company didn’t tell us that this was the policy as we would’ve had our ducks in a row. Well not really, it’s not like our lawyer would’ve done anything…

    #2
    And this is why i dont trust lawyers

    Comment


      #3
      Switching after confirmation is a royal pain since the other attorney must withdraw, and you must pay a new attorney to take over. Few attorneys would take over a post-confirmation Chapter 13 because all of the work, for which a bankruptcy attorney gets paid, has been done at the point of confirmation.

      Now, after confirmation it can be difficult to deal with some attorneys because they generally don't make any money after confirmation. If your attorney is slow in response, then keep asking and if they have an office with a secretary and/or clerks and paralegals, make an appointment. Since you have done this and it's still very slow to respond, you could try to get another bankruptcy attorney, but it will be a pain. The new attorney must figure out how to get paid, and they may charge you a good chunk of money to takeover the case.

      I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying that it will likely cost you more money and there is a process.

      Maybe someone else has a suggestion... despritfreya may have done this before.
      Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
      Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
      Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

      Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by bornfree2 View Post
        And this is why i dont trust lawyers
        Post confirmation, Chapter 13 lawyers are generally scarce. Personally I think it's unprofessional to avoid the client and not return calls. If this attorney is overworked, they should just let the client know that they are overworked and took on too much (happens with small firms). Larger firms have more resources and can delegate much of this type of work to paralegals, law clerks, or even interns. The smaller office just has no resources.

        For the average person, hiring an attorney is a daunting process. An unresponsive attorney makes the profession look bad, when it's not. It's usually because they are overworked because they took on too many clients. That's why I appreciate the larger firms even though I may not talk directly with my attorney except for when it's an issue which requires them to speak directly with me. I don't mind working with the paralegals or clerks in the attorney office. They are there to relieve a lot of pressure off the attorney(s) in the office. They are a great asset to putting a good face forward.



        Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
        Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
        Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

        Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by justbroke View Post
          Post confirmation, Chapter 13 lawyers are generally scarce. Personally I think it's unprofessional to avoid the client and not return calls. If this attorney is overworked, they should just let the client know that they are overworked and took on too much (happens with small firms). Larger firms have more resources and can delegate much of this type of work to paralegals, law clerks, or even interns. The smaller office just has no resources.

          For the average person, hiring an attorney is a daunting process. An unresponsive attorney makes the profession look bad, when it's not. It's usually because they are overworked because they took on too many clients. That's why I appreciate the larger firms even though I may not talk directly with my attorney except for when it's an issue which requires them to speak directly with me. I don't mind working with the paralegals or clerks in the attorney office. They are there to relieve a lot of pressure off the attorney(s) in the office. They are a great asset to putting a good face forward.


          Yessss so true! When looking for an attorney initially, we couldn’t find a place that didn’t have us talking to a paralegal and we didn’t like that. Well that came back to bite us! The one we landed on is a small place with only one attorney and I think he only now got a paralegal, who we are also emailing. She is a bit more responsive and at least apologizes, the attorney doesn’t which I think is probably just typical practice of attorneys to avoid admitting fault. My husband’s work has a legal benefit so that paid for our attorney. We would have to see if the benefit would pay out more if we wanted to switch. Thanks for the info!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by imtryingtho View Post
            My husband’s work has a legal benefit so that paid for our attorney. We would have to see if the benefit would pay out more if we wanted to switch. Thanks for the info!
            This, that I underlined, is likely the issue. The attorney probably received a flat-rate (no look) payment for the services and the engagement agreement may or may not provide for a la carte services (post confirmation).

            Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
            Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
            Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

            Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by imtryingtho View Post

              We would have to see if the benefit would pay out more if we wanted to switch. Thanks for the info!
              You can fire them, ask for your files, report them, and even sue them. You could sue them for all the fees to rework/fix the case for example.

              You can read about these kind of options in this NOLO book which i have in my own bookshelf handy as I write this.

              Its an old book 1996(references AOL email) but it has plenty of form letters and 'how-to' Nolo style

              "Mad at your Lawyer?"

              https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclope...ies-29925.html

              You can find it on amazon or for free at a local law library that provides access to NOLO texts.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by bornfree2 View Post
                You can fire them, ask for your files, report them, and even sue them. You could sue them for all the fees to rework/fix the case for example.
                Not that simple if the fee agreement doesn't provide for services post-filing. This is why I said that the issue is likely the employer-provided "free" legal services. Most of these are not as simple as they appear from the outside.

                Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
                Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
                Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

                Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by justbroke View Post
                  This, that I underlined, is likely the issue. The attorney probably received a flat-rate (no look) payment for the services and the engagement agreement may or may not provide for a la carte services (post confirmation).
                  We asked once if we needed to open a new request with the legal benefits, thinking that if there was the option for more money he would be better. He never responded to it. It’s hard because while he may not have motivation to help us, we have no other option. Clearly we can’t contact the trustee ourselves, everything I’ve seen advises against it, including the trustee’s website. I imagine trustees are used to this behavior by attorneys? We want to stay in good with the trustee and our attorney is making us look like crap. Last year we were shocked when the trustee said in May she never received our tax return. We sent it to our attorney in February! Well I guess it wasn’t a signed copy and our attorney never told us to send a signed copy.

                  To further complicate things, our contractor who is waiting for the $30k is a relative of a friend, so things could get very awkward if he isn’t paid, although he fully understands the mortgage company holds the funds initially. Now that the work is done, we have no explanation to give him since he doesn’t know about the trustee situation and we want to avoid disclosing.

                  When we HAVE met with our attorney, he is very helpful and takes his time and then gives us these ETAs such as “I’ll send that by Monday” etc and it never EVER happens like he says. I don’t get why he can’t set expectations better so at least we aren’t just floating in the wind.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by imtryingtho View Post
                    When we HAVE met with our attorney, he is very helpful and takes his time and then gives us these ETAs such as “I’ll send that by Monday” etc and it never EVER happens like he says. I don’t get why he can’t set expectations better so at least we aren’t just floating in the wind.
                    I don't know either and you will need to find out, one way or another, where you stand with the attorney. I'd call twice a day until they respond, or go down to their office if it's not too far from your home.

                    Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
                    Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
                    Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

                    Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      How much are the legal fees for what you're requesting so far and are you planning to somehow pay him through the plan? Nothing other than forwarding the tax return would be free, and I do that myself so I don't bug my attorney until the end of the case. I had a lot of post-confirmation legal services, but they are paid for. It was almost $3k in legal fees.

                      If you get a new attorney, he will want to be paid too. A request for temporary lower trustee payments isn't a good sign that the legal fees will be paid.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Wow, I think we are so lucky to have survived our BK13 since we used the employee benefit R. provided , Hyatt Legal Services.
                        Our attorney told us they didn't pay him post-petition, but somehow he always responded and actually did fight the trustee when he attempted to raise our payment by 100% in 2020!
                        I realize now that we did actually get a pretty decent lawyer after all! He never charged us after he was paid the $1500 that the plan allowed and as bad as our 5 years proved to be, at least we didn't have to look for another attorney.
                        imtryingtho, I wish you the best and hope you can perservere and make it through what really sounds like a waking nightmare!
                        Last edited by Barbisi; 05-13-2022, 11:41 PM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          This is in response to the following, which I modified for ease of reference:

                          We asked in February for (our attny) to submit a request for temporary lower payments due to a new roof deductible as well as a modification due to our son’s increased medical expenses. He told us to move forward repairing the roof and get him documentation paperwork and he would submit everything by March 8th. (He did not timely submit papers to the court).

                          We got the roof repaired and the mortgage company endorsed the insurance check and then sent it to our trustee, (not the contractor. As a result,) we owe the roofer $30k.

                          (Our attny finally) sent us loan modification documents to sign. (We signed and returned them to our attny) and now, radio silence.
                          You have the right to seek out a new attorney but such may be difficult. Most attorneys do not like to take over a case. We each control our cases in unique ways and typically do not like to take over something we did not have control of from day one. Having said that, there are attorneys who do this routinely. When we take over a case we do what we can to fix any problems to get the case back on track. This, unfortunately, costs the client more money as being new to a case includes the expense of the learning curve.

                          Having said the above, here is my spin on this. . .

                          Why on this planet would a trustee “keep” an insurance check that is suppose to be utilized to pay a post petition construction claim to a roofer who, in all likelihood, now has a lien against the property for work not paid? IMHO that check should have been issued as a joint check between the mortgage company, you and the roofer. In some states, the lien rights of a contractor are ahead of a mortgage holder.

                          This is what I would do:

                          1. File a Motion for the Release of Insurance Proceeds. This Motion would seek the release of the funds for payment to the roofing contractor. Any proceeds not needed would remain with the Trustee for the benefit of creditors.

                          2. As it relates to the loan modification, contact the lender to make sure it has what it needs. Please note, in my jurisdiction, the lender’s attny (not the debtor’s attny) files a Motion to approve the modification. It is possible that your jurisdiction handles things in the same way and you just need to prod the lender to get the paperwork filed.

                          3. To the extent necessary, file a Motion for Plan Payment Moratorium. Ask the court to allow you a grace period of ____ number of months. Just remember, the missed payments have to be made up so the Plan payment may increase at some point.

                          4. To the extent you are not getting a response from your attorney - go to his/her office and meet face-to-face. We are now sort of “post pandemic”. Most attorneys have resumed in-office visits.

                          Hope this helps.

                          Des.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I love all the gaslighting going on here for the obviously incompetent and unprofessional lawyer that OP unfortunately had. Its a fact of life there are some very incompetent and lazy lawyers out there. I have met my fair share of bozo clowns in the bankruptcy circuit.

                            OP is in a difficult spot BECAUSE of the attorney -- something as simple as mailing a tax return to a trustee should be free if it was 'outside the flat fee'. That is extremely unprofessional and straight up greedy

                            The only thing a lawyer should be worried about when they take on a client is how to properly represent them - not if they cant bill a quarter hour for stuffing an envelope and putting a stamp on it. They should not be lawyers if they are so determined to turn every turn of the hour hand into money for their pockets - they should be prostitutes instead.

                            My mid term goal is to become a lawyer myself. My practice will never short a client. Cause im in it for justice not money. Heck i cant see any professional having a successful business this way.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by bornfree2 View Post
                              I love all the gaslighting going on here for the obviously incompetent and unprofessional lawyer that OP unfortunately had.
                              Nope. Everyone said that a.) the attorney was unprofessional, and b.) that changing Chapter 13 attorneys post-confirmation is difficult and can be expensive.

                              Unfortunately, this is an issue in solo practice offices. As you have read above -- I hope you did -- another debtor used a work provided service which only paid the Chapter 13 attorney $1,500 for a complex Chapter 13. That attorney, though, kept providing services despite the very low payment on a Chapter 13. (The no-look fee for a Chapter 13 in my area of Florida is $4,500 and that's without a la carte services.)

                              An attorney "is" worried about being paid, just as the carpenter is worried about a client not paying on their contract. My observation is that the supermajority of attorneys try to be as effective as possible given the terms of the fee agreement. Perhaps this attorney is like the plumber that took a job from a so-called "home warranty" company. Sure, you sign up for the work, but then realize you are severely being underpaid for the work required. (Maybe that's a bad analogy.) But, that still doesn't excuse the terms of the fee agreement. You must look to what you agree to in that agreement for the terms of your attorney representation.

                              Originally posted by bornfree2 View Post
                              Heck i cant see any professional having a successful business this way.
                              Yep, not responding is unprofessional. It may even be worthy of a report to the bar, but rest-assured that if you report them to the bar they will drop representation. The first goal is to figure out the problem and then determine whether the incident should be reported, along with what you'll need to do if dropped.
                              Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
                              Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
                              Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

                              Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.

                              Comment

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