A consumer bankruptcy attorney represents consumers rather than businesses during bankruptcy proceedings. Bankruptcy lawyers advise clients as to whether bankruptcy is in their best interest, help clients prepare their case, and then represent their clients in any and all bankruptcy hearings. The consumer bankruptcy attorney may also advise his clients during a bankruptcy repayment plan or in case the client has any difficulties after discharge.
Consumer bankruptcy law varies considerably by jurisdiction, and while it is possible in some countries, such as the United States, for a consumer to represent himself in a bankruptcy case, it is generally not considered advisable. This is because bankruptcy law can be very complex, and it is easy for laypeople to make mistakes in the handling of their affairs prior to filing for bankruptcy or to make mistakes in listing their debts and filing their papers. The United States Bankruptcy Code requires a consumer bankruptcy attorney to verify all statements made in a bankruptcy filing to ensure honesty and transparency in the procedure.
Depending on the jurisdiction and the bankruptcy options available, preparing for a bankruptcy case may consist of listing and documenting the filer's debts and assets as well as the completion of numerous court forms. In the United States, some debtors elect to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which serves as a payment plan in which the bankruptcy filer repays some of his debt over time. In such cases, the consumer bankruptcy attorney is responsible for developing a repayment plan that meets federal guidelines.
In a bankruptcy case, a debtor must often go to court at least once, possibly for a meeting with his creditors, who may have a chance to raise concerns or objections about his bankruptcy plan. The consumer bankruptcy attorney represents his client at these hearings and can explain to the judge, bankruptcy trustee, or creditors the details of the debtor's bankruptcy filing. If concerns are raised, the attorney can explain to his client the nature of these concerns and work with the client to address them.
Once a bankruptcy discharge has been obtained, the consumer bankruptcy attorney may have no further contact with her client. This is excepting instances in which the client runs into difficulties, such as persistent creditors who attempt to continue the collection of discharged debt. In cases where a debtor is in a bankruptcy repayment plan, the attorney may assist the debtor if he runs into difficulties meeting his payment obligations or needs to incur more debt, such as the purchase of a new vehicle.