As we have written in this Blog, finding a good Bankruptcy lawyer is the first and most important step of filing a Bankruptcy case or exploring whether filing for Bankruptcy is necessary. The age of the internet and social media has allowed lawyers and other professionals to create websites, Blogs (such as this one), and other social media accounts to spread the word about their expertise and practice. For example, in addition to participating in this Blog, I have a firm website and since 2005 have published the Georgia Bankruptcy Blog, which is geared more toward updates on the law and court decisions. In addition, while I have Twitter and Google+ accounts, I am not quite as active on those accounts. There are great Bankruptcy lawyers who are very active in social media and they provide a benefit for people considering Bankruptcy.
On the other hand, the down side to internet and social media sites is the proliferation of anonymous legal referral websites or websites that appear to be associated with a law firm but really are just referral services. Most of these sites have a fair amount of general information about Bankruptcy and, at first glance, appear to be a good resource. They promise to help you with your financial problems and appear to make it easy for you to get in touch with a lawyer. However, their true purpose is to get contact information from potential clients and then effectively sell the contact information to firms across the country. Normally, they charge lawyers for the referrals, whether or not the client ever files a case or even contacts the lawyer. Most of the firms participating in these setups are “volume” consumer firms. The telltale sign that a site is a paid referral site is that the website does not clearly identify a Bankruptcy lawyer or law firm responsible for the website or the law firm claims to have a nationwide network of unidentified lawyers to help you. When you complete the contact form or call the toll-free number, you are not actually calling a law office; rather, you are contacting a service who will then sell your information to a lawyer in your area. Some of these websites may have the name of a lawyer or law firm for marketing purposes, but if it is not a law firm in your location and it uses such words as “affiliates” it is safe to assume it is a referral site. You will have no idea who is going to call you back, or their experience and qualifications in filing your case. They just purchased your information. The same groups have cold callers contacting lawyers to sell them the contacts. Rarely a week goes by that I don’t get a couple calls or emails, and a some of them have the manners of debt collectors.
When you make the effort of contacting a lawyer for something as important as a Bankruptcy case, you should be assured that you are directly contacting an experienced Bankruptcy lawyer. For example, in this Blog, every post will include the name of the Georgia lawyer who wrote the post, and we have attorney biographies and direct contact information for all lawyers. The Contact Form goes directly to me (Scott Riddle) and the other lawyers on this site. While we all are happy to refer you to another good Bankruptcy lawyer in your location when appropriate, we do not sell your information. If a website does not clearly indicate you are communicating directly with a lawyer in your area, it is wise to move on in your search. For more information on choosing a lawyer, see this post.