The Wizard was to be her savior and her ticket back to Kansas.
While he ultimately offers some sage advice, the man behind the curtain was not who she expected him to be.
I truly believe that people have this “Wizard of Oz syndrome” when it comes to attorneys and their fees.
Like bankruptcy, I believe there are misconceptions about the work we do as attorneys and the value of that work. There is a built in fear that there is something or someone else behind the curtain.
While a certain level of skepticism can be healthy and protect you against unscrupulous practices, it is important to understand the value of the attorney and the fee.
Paying for Nothing
I remember a conversation I had with a friend when I first went into private practice. We discussed the value of the exchange between debtor/client and attorney.
Typically, when a consumer purchases something, there is an exchange of value. You pay money and you receive an item or immediate service in return.
With your bankruptcy attorney fee, that is not the case.
Essentially, you pay a fee and walk out of your attorney’s office with some documents and some assurances of a debt free future and fresh start.
Of course there is more to it than that and I would like to try to place some value on the fee.
Paying for your Financial Future
The bankruptcy process is a mine field at the intersection of Federal and State laws. Regardless of what anyone says, there is no such thing as a “simple” bankruptcy case.
I have seen my fair share of “pro se” debtors get into serious trouble because they did not have representation. I have already talked about the risks of filing bankruptcy without an attorney.
Only an attorney can discuss asset protection in bankruptcy. An attorney can advise you on property exemptions, dischargeability of your debts and the ramifications of the means test.
Only an experienced attorney understands the human element involved in each and every bankruptcy filing.
So, as you can see, your attorney fee is paid in exchange for expertise, guidance and compassion. It is a premium paid to insure against the pitfalls and traps strewn throughout the path of your bankruptcy case.
Behind the curtain is a knowledgeable professional committed to getting you out of debt and providing you with a fresh start and a brighter financial future.
That is priceless.
Image courtesy of Sara Biljana (Flickr).