I recently stumbled across an article posted by a fellow bankruptcy blogger entitled “Blah blah blah Buy a Hyundai Accent” and I was more than a little intrigued. Because I am a bankruptcy attorney, my immediate thought process went something like this:
I read a little further and realized I had missed the message entirely. This attorney was likening those bankruptcy attorneys offering cheap legal fees to the Hyundai accent, making the point that nobody actually drives an accents they prefer cars with fancy bells and whistles.
He went further to compare himself to a certain mid-range automobile (rhymes with Fonda Schmacord), insinuating that more people drive this make and model and should thus choose their lawyer accordingly. Echoing the words of Goldilocks, the bankruptcy attorney in the middle is ‘just right.’
As an experienced Arizona bankruptcy lawyer, I feel it is my duty to fill you in on a little secret:
You’ve Been Had!
Point 1: The difference between cheap and affordable (or discount and economical) is nothing but semantics. These are words. Words that bankruptcy attorneys have chosen to describe themselves in various marketing campaigns. The fact that one attorney offers cheap fees while another markets affordable rates has nothing to do with the service they provide, and suggesting that clients chose an attorney based only on the words they use is absolute hubaloo.
Point 2: While you may prefer fancy upgrades in your car, do you really care whether your attorney has similar bells and whistles? Will a fancy suit unsure your case is processed faster? Will a flashy television ad help you chose whether bankruptcy is a good option for you? Will an expensive website ensure the discharge of your debt. My guess is no, no, no, aaaand no.
Whew. Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I think an important point to address is the subject of legal fees. Why are some bankruptcy lawyers so much more expensive than others? This is a good question, and I do my best to answer it below.
One of the primary factor consumers use to choose their bankruptcy attorney is price. While some debtors choose their attorney by affordability of fees, others actually shy away from discount attorneys, believing expensive attorneys are somehow better. Before you make this common mistake, remember that bankruptcy law firms are no different than your corner grocery store in that they must compete under the limitations of supply and demand.
Once upon a time, the number of law schools in our country was limited. This meant the number of students matriculating each year was few. Boy have things have changed. 2009 created 44,000 new lawyers in the United States and many found themselves without employment.
To run a successful law firm in today’s economy, you must have clients. To retain clients, you must offer an advantage over your peers. Decreasing the profit margin on the preparation of consumer bankruptcy petitions is one way to offer a competitive advantage.
The good news is that a decrease legal fees does not mean that an inferior service is provided. Instead, us bankruptcy attorneys have had to get more creative. How have I been able to offer such low legal fees? For one, I have learned to utilize client referrals, legal blogging, and social media as my primary marketing sources. Since these sources are F-R-E-E, I am able to pass such marketing savings to my clients.