Category Archives: Choosing a lawyer

With No Money, How Do I Pay My Attorney to File My Bankruptcy?

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How do I Pay My Attorney for My Bankruptcy?

By, Ginger Kelly, Esq.  April 10, 2018

The other day, a personal friend asked me (for a friend), whether or not they should she use their tax return tax refund to pay down their credit card bills or to replace the old and leaking roof on their home.  Their roof needed repairing badly.  Their credit card debt was very old and the payments were more than they could afford.  Even though I can’t make that final decision for this friend’s friend (or any of my clients), I can advise most folks of their legal options.  When people need to make a choice between a roof over their head or paying credit card bills, one good option available to most everyone is a fresh start.

In many or most situations, bankruptcy can give an individual or a couple, the fresh start they need. If you are in a position where you need to make important decisions like what to pay and what not to pay, like a roof on your home or to repair the vehicle you need to get to work, talk to a good bankruptcy attorney.  Most give free first consultations, like our office. Bankruptcy might be an option for you, or maybe not.  A person hasn’t lost but an hour of their time discussing their options with a good attorney.  Talking to a professional about options for taking care of debt, sometimes gives the clarity you need to make the right decisions for your future.

A client visited me the other day to discuss her situation. Apparently, she had debt exceeding any amount she could pay.  It wasn’t much debt, but it was a lot for her and that is important. Her earnings were barely more than the poverty level.  So while we had a nice hot cup of coffee, we talked about all of her options.  It was a nice pleasant, casual conversation.  I discovered that my client earned too much money to qualify for a free bankruptcy, through legal aid. She was sad and asked me what can be done.

Because her bankruptcy was not complex, I agreed to lower my fee. I gave her my best  fee option. Still, she was worried. Where would she find the money to pay the attorney fee? I asked her if she was getting a tax refund. She said yes, but it wasn’t enough. She was sickened with the idea of paying creditors all of her disposable income for years to come.

All of a sudden, she had an idea. She said, rather than trying to negotiate and pay down her credit card debt, using all of her disposable income, she said she could ask her uncle for the money. She said that she was thinking of asking him for a gift to help her pay down her loans anyway. Why not ask him for the same gift to pay her attorney’s fees?  Good idea! Sometimes asking relatives to help is a better option than worrying about how to pay overwhelming debt. I’ve had several clients in this kind of situation.

Once, a couple was in the same situation. The wife lost her job due to illness and then one thing led to another. They became deeply indebted, mostly to unsecured creditors (credit card companies). The best option for them was to file for bankruptcy. We talked a little bit and I gave them my best rate.  They were thankful, but without the extra cash, they didn’t know how to pay the legal fees. This was a problem for them.  However, determination overcomes lots of obstacles.

This couple scraped and saved and paid a little along. One spouse sold a baseball card collection and some tools.  The other sold some furniture they no longer needed. They used Craigslist and Facebook Yard Sale to sell a few more things.  They sent checks, one by one, to our office. Sometimes the check was small, sometimes large. We placed all of these funds into our client’s trust account, on hold for them until they finished paying. It didn’t take long. Within about four months, this couple paid all their fees, including the filing fee. This couple couldn’t have been happier.  I was so happy to help them in this way.

Once a person is determined to make a bad situation better, magic happens. There are more options for paying lawyer’s fees than these. Options are only limited by a person’s motivation, determination and imagination. Typically, I ask clients whether or not they have a tax refund coming to them.  This is a very good option for covering fees and things.  Then, I suggest asking friends or relatives for a gift.  At our office we have many ways of making your bankruptcy affordable, sometimes even free or at a reduced rate. Ask us how and perhaps we can help to make your fresh start,more affordable.  It may be easier than you think.

The Law Offices of Ginger B. Kelly is now accepting clients in the Sturbridge, Southbridge, Dudley, Webster, Oxford, Charlton, Auburn, Spencer, Brookfield, Warren and all of the Worcester County Area. We can explore whether or not bankruptcy is the easy way out or not.  We have a comfortable place to talk and a free pot of coffee waiting for you.

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ABOUT ME: Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture. To find out more, visit, http://www.attorneykelly.com or call us at (508) 784-1444.

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NOTICE: This is an Advertisement. This post is not legal advice. Consult your attorney. Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet. Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other. We cannot stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney. Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice. Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2018 by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved.

 

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Filed under About Attorney Kelly, Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, Choosing a lawyer, Collection, credit card debt, Debt, Deficiency, Deficiency Debt, Filing, Financial, Foreclosure, Hiring Counsel, Judgements, Law, Lawsuits, Legal, Legal Rights, Liens, Massachusetts, Massachusetts law, Mortgages, payment, practical stuff, Rhode Island, Spouse, Student Loan Debt, tax refund, tax return, Uncategorized

Property Transferring No No’s, Before Filing Bankruptcy

Money in an envelope

Property Transferring No No’s, Before Filing Bankruptcy

by Attorney Ginger B. Kelly, February 23, 2018

There are a few types of transfers that will definitely not help if you want to file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start. One of those is types of transfers is called a prepetition transfer or (in other words) a fraudulent or irregular transfer.

Essentially, a prepetition transfer is a transfer of property (money or other things, including real estate) given to a person or creditor within 90 days from the date you file your petition. A prepetition transfer may also be a transfer of any property (money or other things, including real estate) to any insider, like a business partner, family or friend, within one year of your bankruptcy filing. Prepetition transfers are one of the biggest reasons why it is important to consult with a qualified, experienced, bankruptcy attorney, before you file. The prepetition transfer follows something called the 90 day rule.

Basically, the 90 day rule relates to debts that a debtor has paid, while insolvent, within the past 90 days of filing their bankruptcy petition and is set forth in section 547(b) of the Bankruptcy Code. The 90 day rule generally means that the US bankruptcy trustee has permission to avoid, (which means unwind or undo), any transfer made to a creditor or an insider if the transfer had an aggregate value of $600 or more provided that the transfer was made within 90 days from the date of the bankruptcy filing, and for any transfers made up to one year, if the person who received the transfer was an insider.

Here are a couple of examples of a fraudulent or irregular transfer:

Jane wanted to settle a debt before filing. She saved around $3,000 and was successful in negotiating with creditors to pay off one of her credit cards. Jane negotiated a settlement with blue credit company for $700 on October 30, 2017. She negotiated another settlement and paid red credit company $1,000 on November 1, 2017. After Jane negotiated successfully, with blue and red credit companies, she tried to negotiate with orange and green credit companies. She was unsuccessful. So Jane filed her bankruptcy without an attorney. Since she paid $700 to blue and $1,000 to red, her US Trustee avoided these transfers to get the money back. The trustee will allow all of Jane’s creditors to receive an equal share of the $1700 and prevent one particular creditor from benefiting more than the others. This is just one example. There are more.

The second section of the 90 day rule allows bankruptcy trustee to avoid any transfers of property made to any creditor that is also an insider (i.e., business partner, relative or friend) made between 90 days and one year of your bankruptcy filing date and exceeds and aggregate value of $600 or more.

In the next example, Steven bought his daughter Karen, a $15,000 car for graduating college. Steven paid $5,000 from funds he kept in his savings account and made the remainder of the purchase from a $10,000 line of credit on his credit card. On June 30, 2017, Steven transferred the title, over to his daughter.  In September of 2017, Steven lost his job. He was no longer able to make the remainder of Karen’s car payments. After four months without a job, Steven’s debt was piling up. So, in January 2018, Steven decided that he wanted to file chapter 7 bankruptcy to get a fresh financial start. If Steven were to file for bankruptcy before June 30, of 2018, there may be a good chance that the trustee would be able to avoid the car title transfer he made to his daughter, Karen. This would put the vehicle Steven just purchased for his daughter at risk. If Steven’s bankruptcy attorney knew of this transfer, the attorney would have warned Steven of the issues involving the purchase of Karen’s car prior to filing.

The fraudulent transfer rule involves all property, not just cash, and also applies to both chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcies. There are only a few exceptions. One, for example, is the exception for transfers made in the ordinary course of business, in other words, the property was sold to another (not an insider) for a fair and accurate value. But even so, bankruptcy can get complicated and for most folks, an attorney is usually needed to help out. Some people can’t imagine how to pay for a bankruptcy when they have no money. I’ll talk about that more, in my next article.

For now, if you’d like to set up an appointment to talk about affordability and your available options, call me. We can talk, face-to-face, and explore your options over a nice cup of coffee or tea.

The other day, a new client couple asked whether or not they should she use their tax return tax refund to pay down their credit card bills or use their tax refund to replace the roof on their home. Their roof needed repairing badly. Their credit card debt was very old. I cannot make that final decision for any of my clients, but I can advise them of their options. If you are in a position where you need to make important decisions like paying your credit card bills or paying for something extremely important, like a roof on your home, it may be a great idea to talk to a good attorney. Most give free first consultations.

If you are contemplating bankruptcy, and have some questions about a transfer you may have made or the 90 day rule, The Law Offices of Ginger B. Kelly is now accepting clients in the Sturbridge, Southbridge, Dudley, Webster, Oxford, Charlton, Auburn, Spencer, Brookfield, Warren and all of the Worcester County Area. We can explore whether or not bankruptcy is the easy way out or not.  We have a comfortable place to talk and a free pot of coffee waiting for you.

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ABOUT ME: Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture. To find out more, visit, http://www.attorneykelly.com or call us at (508) 784-1444.

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NOTICE: This is an Advertisement. This post is not legal advice. Consult your attorney. Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet. Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other. We cannot stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney. Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice. Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2018 by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved.

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Filed under Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, Choosing a lawyer, Collection, credit card debt, Debt, Debt Collection, Deficiency, Empowerment, Filing, Financial, Judgements, Law, Lawsuits, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, tax refund, tax return, Uncategorized

What to do when your car isn’t worth the loan payments

Auto loan and credit card debt

By Attorney Ginger Kelly, December 15, 2017

I’m seeing it over and over again with folks in our Central Massachusetts area.  Car loans are so expensive and cars lose their value so quickly, it is causing harm to consumers.  As soon as the loan papers are signed, folks are strapped to payments they can’t afford.  It’s a shame and it makes me mad, the same kind of mad I get when I see what payday lenders can do to hard working families.

One person I know (I won’t mention her name), who earns less than $1200 per month in Social Security Disability Income went to a dealer to get a car loan on a new car.  She pays over seven hundred dollars a month for rent, yet the dealer down the street gave her a car loan.  Her car loan payments were over $400 per month.  What’s going on here?  This is robbery, in my opinion.

Another client I had a long time ago, purchased a new car for well over twenty two thousand dollars.  Less than a year later, she lost her job.  She could no longer afford her monthly car payments.  She had to do something so she tried to negotiate a modification of her loan.  Without her good paying job, the lender said no.  To keep her home, she lost her car and surrendered it moments before it was repossessed.  Then, the dealer auctioned the car to pay the loan.  The car brought in only a few thousand dollars at auction.  The outstanding balance she owed to her lender was well over twelve thousand dollars.  How does a brand new car loose over ten thousand dollars in value in less than a year?  The car had very little miles and was in almost perfect condition.  I don’t understand it.  This client was compelled to file a Chapter 7 to keep a lien from being placed on her home.  This is how it goes.  It’s sad but true.

Another couple purchased a vehicle in 2011.  The vehicle cost was over twenty thousand dollars.  They successfully made payments for over four years. Then, the wife got sick and couldn’t work.  This caused the couple to lose over half of their income.  They decided to downsize and only drive one car to save money.  They surrendered the car to the lender.  The lender, in turn, sold the car and then charged this couple with a fifteen thousand dollar deficiency on the loan.  This amazing couple, going through some very difficult medical issues, could not pay the deficiency.  They were barely making their mortgage payments. Eventually, the lender took them to court. The lender got a judgment lien against the only asset they had, their home. The couple was devastated. This is why they came to me for help.

My husband was talking to a colleague at work, just today, who asked him why he drives a used car. My husband replied, “Why would I want a new car that’s 50% discounted as soon as I drive it home and if something happens to me and I can’t pay for it, the car gets repossessed and I won’t be able to pay the amount the lender will charge me after the car is surrendered.” He added, “My wife deals with this all the time. She sees people suffering in this type of situation. Why would I put my own finances in jeopardy just to drive a fancy new car?”  My husband said it bluntly and truthfully.

Frankly, I’m baffled at the inflated prices of vehicles these days. I’m astonished at the shady things that seem to be happening to consumers who need to drive to work and school.  What is going on in the lending and auto industry?  Who doesn’t need a car these days?  Maybe this is part of the problem. Consumers need reliable cars, so they do whatever they think is best to get one.  But there is hope.

Several of my clients have had to think about debt consolidation or even try this until they consulted with me and discussed the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy and how this works.

Basically, a Chapter 7 is a total liquidation of all of your debts and a way to get a fresh start for most debt, but a person has to qualify first.  A Chapter 13 is a way to manage your debts by way of a three or five year payment plan.  In a Chapter 13, a debtor pays into this plan and then, after the end of the three or five years, comes out with a fresh start.  Bankruptcy is not for everyone, but it may be the only way to get rid of these not only annoying, but quite often unconscionable auto loan deficiencies.  For some people it’s the only way to stop creditors from placing liens on things like other cars and homes after they had to surrender their car or have it repossessed for one reason or another.

Bankruptcy, for some, is an option worth exploring.  Most Bankruptcy cases will cost anywhere from zero dollars (for qualifying pro bono cases) up to four or five thousand dollars, for some Chapter 13 cases and anywhere in between.  Attorneys cannot tell a client how much a bankruptcy case will cost until they have the opportunity to evaluate the work involved, the type of Bankruptcy needed, the complication of assets and debt and other factors.  But the good thing is, most bankruptcy attorneys offer a free first consultation for most clients.  If they don’t, I suggest that you think about visiting a bankruptcy attorney who does.

The next question my clients ask, I’ll touch briefly upon.  How does someone pay for a Bankruptcy if they don’t have any money?  Well, it’s not easy but it’s do-able.  Some clients sell collections or other things to find the money.  Most clients use tax return refunds to pay for their new start in life.  This is a very good option, indeed.  Still others borrow the money from friends or relatives (I do not suggest that you do this, however, sometimes it’s done anyway).  They ask relatives or friends to help out with a gift.  Christmas temp jobs are wonderful for helping out in a pinch.  Most of the time, where there is a will there is a way.  People find ways to pay for their bankruptcy and are happy to do so.

Tax season is right around the corner.  If you are thinking about whether or not to fix the roof of your home or pay your credit card debt, you might want to consult with a bankruptcy attorney.  If your car payments are too much of a burden for you and you are thinking of surrendering your car, you might want to consult with a bankruptcy attorney.  These are the real issues to consider in this coming tax filing season. Your next tax refund may be the way you too can enjoy a new lease on life and not to be bothered by the heavy burden of bills you cannot pay.

The Law Office of Ginger B. Kelly is a boutique type law firm.  We are not Big Law.  We only handle a small number of clients at one time.  Each client gets personal attention and care.  Each client gets hours and hours of time devoted to their particular case. Our office is in an easy to find location in Charlton. This means you don’t have to drive to the big city of Worcester or Boston and pay for parking. We not only offer free parking, but free coffee in a calm and peaceful place. Your discussion with our senior attorney is very confidential. Your first consultations will last about an hour in a stress-free, homey type atmosphere.

If you want to try a lawyer who is different, a new type of lawyer, Attorney Kelly is the one. Attorney Kelly is a lawyer who is interested in cultivating a more peaceful, kind and gentler approach to law. Her practice is unique. Her zealous advocacy is tempered by her high ethical standards. Her love for people provides the foundation for her attentive personal service. As one client put it, “This is like an old fashioned law office, very comfortable.”

Book your appointment now and explore your best options for the New Year.  We’ll have a nice pot of coffee waiting for you when you visit.

Good luck and have the Happiest of Holidays!

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ABOUT ME: Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture. To find out more, visit, http://www.attorneykelly.com or call us at (508) 784-1444.
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NOTICE: This is an Advertisement. This post is not legal advice. Consult your attorney. Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet. Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other. We can not stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney. Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice. Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2017 by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved.

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Filed under Auto Loans, Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, Choosing a lawyer, Collection, credit card debt, Debt, Debt Collection, Deficiency, Hiring Counsel, Judgements, Law, Lawsuits, Legal, Liens, Massachusetts, practical stuff, Repossession, Rhode Island, tax refund, tax return, Uncategorized

More about Attorney Kelly

Since 2005, Attorney Kelly has been practicing law.  With a strong background in corporate law, consumer finance, criminal defense, conservation and agriculture, Attorney Kelly is passionate about the things that really matter to you. Attorney Kelly knows that sometimes life gets complicated. Finding a good attorney shouldn’t be.

Relationship-building and maintaining affordability is only part of what we do. We also believe in honesty and transparency. This is why each issue and question, brought to our attention, is carefully considered and evaluated. If we are unable to accept your case, we will let you know and give you the best referral possible, free.

We also offer many of thUS District Court District of Rhode Islande best attorney referrals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

“Sometimes life gets complicated, finding a good attorney shouldn’t be.”

— Attorney Kelly

AREAS OF PRACTICE

BANKRUPTCY – What we do: Chapter 7, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 referrals for corporations, partnerships, LLC companies and individuals who do not qualify under Chapter 7 and 13.  On a limited scope basis, we may assist certain pro-se filers on a case-by-case basis.  What we don’t do:  We are not a “bankruptcy mill.”  We do not shuck-out bankruptcy documents without careful, individual attention to you and your situation.  We will never compromise quality, based on the size, complexity or simplicity of your case.

CIVL – What we do: Credit card and consumer defense, debtor’s rights, foreclosure, repossession, lien, garnishment, student loan defense, debt settlement and credit restoration.  We also handle accident and injury claims, civil infractions, contract, harassment, neighbor disputes, tort and landlord/tenant matters on a case-by-case basis.  We draft wills, medical directives (health care proxies) and financial power of attorney documents.  We accept issues regarding claims settlements, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and Mediation, on a case-by-case basis.  We also draft contracts, including domain name purchase and sale transactions and transfers and review all types of contracts, including residential and commercial construction contracts.   What we don’t do:  Professional and Medical malpractice cases, complex multiparty litigation, tax and estate planning, intellectual property, patent, copyright and family law.  We also do not take class action or employment and labor dispute cases.

Corporate & Business – What we do:  Corporate formation and records management including non-profits and 401(c)(3) qualification.  We also advise on business compliance issues and financial transactions for corporations, contractors and small businesses. What we don’t do:  Publicly traded corporations, mergers and acquisitions, complex restructuring, capital markets, private equity and corporate governance.

Criminal Defense,  Arraignments, criminal records sealing, unlawful possession of a firearm or controlled substance, OUI/ Melanie’s Law, ignition interlock compliance and hardship license, search and seizure,  traffic, speeding and misdemeanor offenses, simple assault, diversion programs and sentencing alternatives, theft crimes, shoplifting, larceny and more.  Each criminal and traffic matter is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. What we don’t do: Appeals, major felony offenses and capital crimes.  Felony offenses involving firearms, robbery, deadly force, domestic violence and sex crimes.

Agriculture & Food, Right-to-farm and farming rights, insurance, zoning compliance, land tenure and tenancy, agriculture finance, organic certification and records management.  We also advocate on behalf of farmers, farmer’s markets, agricultural inspectors, homesteaders, small farmers, seed banks, coops and gardeners.  What we don’t do:  Labor disputes, worker’s compensation and immigration law.    

Conservation & Environmental Advocacy, Alternative energy and environmental due diligence, advocating and lobbying for conservation and clean energy issues, permitting, compliance and structured finance, septic, water and environmental compliance, wetlands, species-at-risk, air-noise-odor issues, contamination and environmental site research and advocacy.What we don’t do:  Brownfields, Eminent Domain, solid waste and EPA Superfund litigation.        

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ABOUT ME:  Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture.

To find out more, visit, www.attorneykelly.squarespace.com or www.attorneykelly.wordpress.com, or call us at (508) 784-1444.

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NOTICE:  This is an Advertisement.  This post is not legal advice.  Consult your attorney.  Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet.  Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other.  We can not stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney.  Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice.  Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2015, 2016, 2017 by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved.

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Filed under About Attorney Kelly, Choosing a lawyer, Hiring Counsel, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Uncategorized

4 Qualities That Make My Lawyer Great

 I don't always need a lawyer but when I do I make sure my lawyer is great

Most of us will need a lawyer, at least once in our lives. The lawyer we hire will be our confident. Our lawyer will keep our secrets. Our lawyer will know about our finances. Our lawyer will hear our complaints. They may see us cry. They will negotiate with our adversaries and listen to our desires and hopes.

Sometimes, our lawyer will be the bearer of bad news. They help us cope. They help us deal. They help us celebrate. Our lawyer will know who we are, where we live, and what we want out of life.  Hopefully, our lawyer will understand us. No…..I don’t mean just hear what we say, I mean really understand us on a deeper level.

Surprisingly, not many people do much research before hiring a lawyer.  Doing a quick Google-search or talking to your mother’s best friend’s cousin seems good enough for a lot of folks.  This lack of due diligence works out really nicely for lawyers with issues, like substance abuse, mental illnesses and poor work ethic, but it’s horrible for you.

Chances are that you and your lawyer will be in it for the long haul.  You will spend more time with your attorney then you ever dreamed possible.  So what do you really need to know about someone who you will trust with some of the most important matters of your life?  Here are a few tips.

  1.  Like a great friend, a great lawyer will be there when you need them the most.  

Have you ever had a good friend who didn’t return your phone calls or respond to your emails or text messages?  Lawyers are often like this too. Great lawyers return calls and communicate the status of your case, not sparingly, but all the time.  They send updates and talk about the future, the things that matter most.  So why don’t lawyers return calls?

Lawyers, like many people, have reasons and make excuses for not communicating. They may suffer from alcoholism or depression. Statistics indicate that lawyers suffer from alcoholism and depression at rates significantly higher than the general population. In fact, lawyers have the most alcoholics of any profession. Being too busy is another excuse for lack of communication. Then there is avoidance.

Why would a lawyer ever avoid telling a client the truth?  Exactly – when there’s bad news. Did they lose the case?  Did they miss a deadline? Are they overwhelmed? When the fantastic lawyer you hired is so swamped with work that they fail to call, they fall very short of being effective. Not only is this not professional, it’s not as uncommon as you think.

Great lawyers, who are genuinely concerned about you, don’t avoid calls.  Just like friends, outstanding lawyers stay close. Great lawyers, like great friends, do all that they can to be there and watch your back, especially when you need them.

  1.  A lawyer should always be honest and transparent, but a great lawyer knows how and when to be honest.  

Chances are, you will share some of the most exciting things in your life with your lawyer. There are lots of reasons why your lawyer will be the first one who hears your good news, along with the bad.  A good lawyer knows how to be honest and clear, without crushing your enthusiasm.  Not deflating joy, while dealing with reality, is an art. The fine art of listening, while uplifting others, is a topic touches me personally.

One day, a few years back, my adult daughter told me that she was going on a business trip to Cairo, Egypt.  At that time, Egypt was full of conflict and danger.  In Cairo, it was not unusual to see men walking casually down main streets with heavy artillery.  People wore AK-47’s like jewelry.  Needless to say, when my daughter told me she was going to Cairo, Egypt, I was not happy.

I expressed to my daughter, with no reservation, my deepest darkest fears.  “Egypt was a very dangerous place”, I said.  “I’m really afraid for your safety,” I said.

Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my daughter carefully enough and wore my emotions on my sleeve. As you may have guessed, my daughter was not very happy. Her joy was crushed. Stonewalling me in no uncertain terms, she said, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about it!”  I was hurt.  It was quite some time before we talked to each other.

A few weeks later, we had another conversation. This time things were very different.  I asked her to explain to me why she was so mad.

She said, “Mom, I expected you to act differently.”  She explained to me that she was so excited about her wonderful overseas adventure, that she wanted me to share in her joy not deflate her spirits.  She explained to me that my lack of confidence in her, to make wise decisions, was upsetting.  Right then and there, I realized I needed to think about what was said and how I responded to my daughter.

To make a long story short, my daughter and I both apologized to each other and we both had a good talk about what had happened.  Now, I try to do my best to listen very carefully to others.  I try to think twice and talk once.  I work on keeping my emotions intact and understanding the situation, before I express my concerns.  My daughter also learned that it’s not always a good idea to expect people to act the way you want them to act.

Actually, I think we both learned how to listen and discuss things better with one another.  This is the point.  Almost all great relationship building begins with a learning curve of understanding.  This was one of those learning curve moments, for the both of us.  We both grew and became better, as a result of our misunderstanding.

Find an attorney who continues to improve upon their listening and communication skills.   Great lawyers aren’t always perfect, but they are honest and they try harder than most to communicate and listen to their clients when they are needed.

  1.  A lawyer should always be respectful and decent, but a great lawyer will respect your space and value your emotional energy.

Some clients struggle with the fact that a lot of lawyers take up too much of their emotional energy. Believe it or not, like friends, some lawyers can suck you down a vortex of critically bad emotional thoughts.

Some lawyers are jealous of other lawyers.  Some lawyers have a lot of negativity in their lives.  Some attorneys want to dominate your time with things or small talk.  They are unclear about appointments and fail to work hard on your case to the point that you feel they aren’t doing even simple investigations and research. All of these types of things can leave you feeling deflated and unsure of what to do next.

Then there are the lawyers who constantly bad mouth other lawyers.  This is not good. This could be a good indicator that your lawyer has a few insecurity or mental issues.  Be wary of this sort of thing.  It really doesn’t matter why, but when a lawyer never has enough time to discuss your case with you, don’t attach yourself to them.  Attaching your legal matter, and yourself, to a lawyer who is a mental, emotional and financial suck is like attaching yourself to a leach. Find a different lawyer, quickly.

An outstanding lawyer will respect your space and time.  They will be cognizant about your need to do other things, like pick up your kids from daycare, go to an important dinner-date with your partner or spouse or not be late for work.  It’s never a good idea to bind yourself to a lawyer who dominates your time and takes all your energy.  A good lawyer will respect your boundaries and give you good clear time-frames when something needs to be done and how it should happen.  A good lawyer does not expect you to do their work or read their mind.  This is also true of good friends.

  1.  A good lawyer communicates well, a great lawyer listens and will know how (and when) to take an attorney-client conversation to a deeper level.

Great, lawyers tend to be appropriately upbeat and care enough to discuss important things.  They enjoy listening to stories related to your case that seem meaningful and important to you.  Good lawyers give you freedom to talk, gather your thoughts, or simply take a moment or two of silence.

A good friend will give you an ear to listen or a helping hand when you really need one.  They don’t cut you off or incessantly talk about themselves.  True friendships have a reciprocity of give and take and know when and how to respect your space.  The same is true for lawyers.  A great lawyer will value the relationship enough to know when it is important and appropriate, to take a conversation to a deeper, more meaningful level. Sometimes this is important. Other times, it’s a necessity.

Of course not every situation is the same.  Not every conversation with your lawyer will become deep and meaningful. Lawyers are our trusted advocates. When the circumstances justify the need, like a good friend, an outstanding lawyer will be there to listen.

It is also important to know that we lawyers are a rare breed.  We share our lives with people who are uniquely positioned to see us at our best and at our worst, as lawyers and individuals.  This is another good reason why taking the time to get to know your lawyer is important.  If you’ve seen your lawyer at their worst, and you still trust them, you’ve probably found a great lawyer.

When I was young and I used to go to the grocery store with my mother.  When we were in the produce aisle I’d watch her by fruit.  She would select melons, for example, by looking at them carefully.  When she found a melon she was interested in, she would pick it up in her hands and hold it for a moment or two.  She would look the melon from top to bottom.  She would touch it, thump it, smell it and press down on its skin.  My mother would do all of this before selecting one simple melon.  Think about it.

Here, we are dealing with people. It may seem very difficult to deeply connect and create an important and lasting relationship with your lawyer, but it’s not. Connecting with your lawyer is no different than connecting with some of your closest friends. So why not apply these four basic principles of finding lasting relationships, to find a truly great lawyer?

“Great lawyers are like good friends, hard to find, harder to leave and impossible to forget.”  ~Attorney Kelly

by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., June 17, 2015

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ABOUT ME:  Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture.

To find out more, visit, www.attorneykelly.squarespace.com or www.attorneykelly.wordpress.com, or call us at (508) 784-1444.

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NOTICE:  Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet.  Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other.  We can not stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney.  Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice.  Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2015 by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved.

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