Contemplating bankruptcy is stressful enough, what with the financial pressure and your own expectations resting on your shoulders. While having to find and work with a bankruptcy attorney may sound like an additional chore, in reality, it should offer a bit of relief. Especially if you know what to look for.

With that in mind, here are some tips on what to consider when picking a bankruptcy attorney.

The attorney is your advocate

In bankruptcy proceedings, a lawyer isn’t there just to boss you around. Instead, they should offer support and guidance while showing they understand your difficult situation as well as where you’re coming from.

As the process moves forward, the attorney should act as your advocate. A positive sign is when you feel the attorney is listening to you, responding with clear answers and addressing your concerns.

Knowledgeable and experienced

There are multiple types of bankruptcy, and within those, different options to consider. Law firms that have done bankruptcy work for a long time will best understand how to navigate these choices based on your situation.

That might include effectively sorting through your assets and knowing which exemptions to pursue, understanding what creditors expect and how to deal with them, or being able to anticipate needs well ahead of deadlines.

A local firm

While you can find bankruptcy lawyers on the internet, the best referrals are often from friends, family and colleagues in the community. See if anyone you know had a good experience with an attorney, or whether they have a recommendation.

Finding a local firm can also make it easier to meet or get in touch with your legal team as needed.

Personalized service over bankruptcy mills

You need a bankruptcy attorney that can offer personalized service in order to help reach the best outcome based on your situation. What you likely don’t want is a bankruptcy mill.

A bankruptcy mill is a firm that cycles through clients as fast as possible. Those firms often rely on a staff with few, if any, legal experts working below the attorney. And the lawyer may not actually look at a case until near the end of the process.

Declaring bankruptcy is never easy. It signifies a real change in your life, and should be treated with the level of respect and understanding it deserves. Finding an attorney who follows through on these beliefs can help make the process just a little bit easier for you and your family.