When filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona, there is simply no reason to pay all the attorney’s fees up-front before your case can be accepted. It upsets me when clients call me for help with their attorney who will not return their phone calls. These clients feel trapped by an attorney who has been paid in full and has done virtually nothing. It is a mistake to pay an attorney all, or the majority of fees up front because by doing so you have eliminated the incentive that some attorneys need to complete the job in a timely and efficient manner.
While you should expect to pay all the attorney’s fees before your Chapter 7 case is filed, there is no reason to pay all those fees before the attorney completes all the necessary work on your case. If you have met with someone who will not do anything until all the fees are paid up front, please walk away from that attorney and find an attorney that can help you with your budget and concerns. There are many qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorneys who will set-up payment options with you and will work with your budget. I always set-up payment arrangements with clients because the last thing I want are clients feeling stuck with the decision as to whether to pay their rent, or feed their family or pay me. I believe an attorney should be there to help you, not to add to your misery.
If you find yourself in a situation in which you have paid an attorney a very large retainer, or have paid all the fees up front and now want to find another attorney, there is no need to feel trapped. Attorneys have an obligation, governed by ethical rules, to return any unused retainer paid, even if the contract with the attorney states that the retainer is non-refundable. You can find these ethical rules on-line at http://www.azbar.org/ethics/rulesofprofessionalconduct.
Please remember that a bankruptcy attorney is there to help you with your financial problems, not to add to them. Take your time and find an attorney that you feel comfortable with and that you can trust to help you find a fresh start.