A Chapter 7 lawyer is a lawyer in the United States who specializes in bankruptcy law. Chapter 7 refers to a type of bankruptcy in which the assets of an individual or business are liquidated to repay creditors and any remaining debt discharged. A bankruptcy attorney is responsible for educating his clients about the bankruptcy process, evaluating and preparing their case, and representing their interests in court if need be. Under the United States bankruptcy code, a Chapter 7 lawyer is required to affirm the truthfulness of her client's bankruptcy petition.
Bankruptcy law can be found in Title 11 of the United States bankruptcy code. Title 11 contains several chapters that describe different types of bankruptcy, and Chapter 7 describes liquidation, or straight, bankruptcy. In this type of bankruptcy, a debtor or insolvent company can escape creditor harassment and overwhelming debt in exchange for giving up what she does have to compensate her creditors. As not everyone can qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the duties of a Chapter 7 lawyer include a review of the debtor's financial situation and income. If the debtor does not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the lawyer can explain the option of a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Once he has completed his client's bankruptcy petition and assembled all necessary forms and documentation, the Chapter 7 lawyer must file the case with the bankruptcy court and accompany his client to the meeting with the bankruptcy trustees and any creditors who want to ask questions of the debtor. The lawyer can present the bankruptcy case and advise his client during the period of questioning by the trustee or creditors. If there are matters that must go before a judge, the lawyer will advocate for his client there.
While it is possible to file for bankruptcy without an attorney, the services of a Chapter 7 lawyer are often invaluable because bankruptcy law can be very complex. For example, a Chapter 7 lawyer can advise clients about whether they are likely to run into problems with their case because of how they disposed of assets right before or at the time of seeking bankruptcy advice. Using a Chapter 7 lawyer can also save a debtor a considerable amount of money in legal fees, as a debtor whose case is dismissed because of a mistake she made will have to pay to refile the case.