Help! I Can’t Afford a Bankruptcy Lawyer.

Going broke is not free.  The Bankruptcy Court charges a fee of $355 or more to file your case.  Bankruptcy cases involve a lot of paperwork, statutes, rules, deadlines, and legal jargon.  If you can afford to hire a reputable lawyer to help you, that is generally the best option. If you can’t, there are some alternatives that could be right for you.

There are many self-help websites that are just a Google search away.  Noll Press, for example, has been publishing  do-it-yourself legal guides since  1971.  They cover a range of topics from debt management, bankruptcy planning, costs, whether you need a lawyer, the types of bankruptcy cases, and how to file them.  They have books, forms, and free on-line articles.  They also have a referral service.   Nolo Press

The American Bankruptcy Institute also offers self-help resources. The ABI is an organization dedicated to research and education on bankruptcy matters.  Their materials are free!  They have a more academic tone, so you might find them a little less user-friendly than Nolo Press.   ABI Bankruptcy Resources

If the idea of a DIY bankruptcy is daunting , you can also find help at free legal societies and legal clinics, or a pro bono attorney might take your case free of charge. lists a number of legal aid societies in the Los Angeles area, including the Legal Aid Foundation, Public Counsel, Bet Tzedek, and others.

Outside the Los Angeles area, try a Google search like “free bankruptcy resources Chicago” to locate similar legal clinics.

Mette H. Kurth


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