Interviewer: What is the best way for a client to select an attorney?
John’s Answer: A lawyer should be chosen for technical knowledge, experience, and, very significantly, the lawyer should be one who makes his clients feel comfortable. A comfortable client will more easily inform the attorney of all the facts necessary for the attorney to give good advice. It is a very close working relationship between the client and the attorney in preparing a petition for bankruptcy. Many facts that are important to making a determination about when or whether to file bankruptcy are obtained from the client-attorney communication. Therefore, it is advisable to have an attorney with whom the client feels comfortable in working out and discussing these matters.
Some firms take a different approach, where a client is viewed as a number in a production process. Oftentimes, clients are meeting with one person for the first consultation, and then control and management of the file is passed to a less experienced attorney. My choice is not to practice this way.
When a client retains an attorney for bankruptcy, this is often done by making an initial deposit of $100 or $200. If the client wants some confirmation to make sure that they have selected the right attorney, they should ask the attorney a question very soon after making this first deposit to see how the Attorney and/or their staff respond(s). If the client does not get a return phone call (or reply email), or if the question is not fully or adequately answered, then it might be better to get out of the relationship right away, even if it means forfeiting your deposit. Establishing a good attorney-client relationship can be make an important difference in your case’s outcome.
Interviewer: What can I expect when I hire John D’Amato, PLLC?
John’s Answer: You can expect an individually tailored case by a highly experienced bankruptcy attorney.
After each case is closed, we survey our clients, asking them why they selected us and request that they comment on the legal service our law firm provided. These surveys show the top two reasons clients select our firm: my technical legal ability, and they feel comfortable with us.
I believe clients say that they feel comfortable because we are very careful to treat the client as an individual person with real concerns and questions, and because we are sensitive to their considerable amount of financial and other stress. It is not at all a one-size-fits-all approach at my office.
We understand that many clients are coming to us at the lowest point in their lives. Many will have severe financial problems coupled with divorce, sickness, and other serious problems. We are very sympathetic to this and we do all we can to make their experience as simple and stress-free as possible. Sometimes I notice that there is a lot of stress in the first minute or two of the meeting, but that quickly goes away, and the client begins providing details of their financial position and what they are seeking.
We take great pains to make sure that our work is quality work that we can be proud of and will not result in problems later in time for the client. One of the benefits of coming to John D’Amato, PLLC is that we are very compulsive and very careful with how we present each client’s financial picture. We don’t hesitate to ask questions that will make for a smooth bankruptcy filing. We always believe that if there are going to be issues in a case, the best time to address those issues is before any petition is filed. At that time the issues can be thoroughly discussed, and any risks involved can be assessed. A determination can be made at that point not to file a petition. In contrast, if less care is given at the initial stage these issues may appear later after the bankruptcy is filed and in many cases, one cannot simply unfile a bankruptcy case. At that point, there will implications to the decision made to file so that it is best to address all issues and obtain all facts prior to filing the bankruptcy case.