How do I find a lawyer or attorney to represent me in a lawsuit by a creditor or debt collector?
There are several ways to find an experienced attorney for debt collection issues.
- Contact a lawyer referral service in your area and ask for an attorney with experience in consumer law, debt collection defense, or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
- You may be able to find lawyer referrals in your area by checking the or your state bar association.
- Low income consumers may qualify for legal aid. Find an office in your state here.
- Servicemembers should consult their .
- Ask people you know to suggest attorneys they have worked with in the past.
- An attorney you know or have worked with before may be able to refer you to an attorney who has experience in consumer law.
- Depending on the amount and nature of your debt, you may wish to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy attorneys may be particularly helpful in many contexts.
You may be able to find a link to lawyer referral services on the website of the state or local bar organization in your area.
Ask questions that would help you determine whether the attorney has a good understanding of consumer law. Also make sure you understand how you will be expected to pay for the services. Questions could include:
- How much of your work involves consumer law and representing consumers?
- How many cases like mine have you handled before?
- Do you charge an up-front fee?
- Will I have to pay even if I lose my case in court?
- If I can’t afford to hire you, can you refer me to a consumer law attorney who may not charge up-front fees?
Tip: See if your attorney has been disciplined.
Before hiring an attorney, it is a good idea to make sure he or she is in good standing with the state bar organization. You can also see if he or she has a disciplinary record. You can find this information by searching the attorney’s name on the state bar website where the attorney is licensed, or by calling the state bar organization. Some states may have more than one bar organization. Be sure you contact the “mandatory” bar association, and not a “voluntary” bar association.
Some attorneys may also offer free services, or charge a reduced fee. There may also be legal aid offices or legal clinics in your area that will offer their services for free if you meet certain criteria.
Tip: Bring copies of your records about the debt and your records of communication with the debt collector with you when you meet with a lawyer. Never leave your originals with anyone.
It will be helpful for your attorney to review copies of letters you have received from the debt collector, as well as any copies of records you have kept of phone calls, letters you wrote to the debt collector, or other communications.