Many student loan bankruptcy lawyers offer free consultations, so it makes sense to use that opportunity to find a lawyer you’re comfortable with.
When you take those meetings, it’s important to be prepared. Here’s a list of some questions to ask to help evaluate them.
What undue hardship test will I need to pass? Depending on where you live, the bankruptcy judge will use the Brunner Test or the totality of the circumstances test to determine whether you can repay your loans and maintain a minimal standard of living for yourself and your dependents without undue hardship. Many experts believe the Brunner Test is harder to pass because you have to prove you made a good faith effort to pay your loans (e.g., made several student loan payments, requested deferments, and forbearances, etc.).
How many student loan bankruptcy cases do you file each year? Keep in mind that few people try to meet the legal standard to discharge their student loan debt. Ideally, you’d like an attorney who files at least one case a year.
Have you worked with my lender previously? Although prior experience with a servicer or lender isn’t necessary, it’s helpful. Each lender has its own process for defending student loan discharge cases. Knowing how each company has responded in the past may give you a leg up.
Who’s going to handle my case? Given the complexity of undue hardship cases and the amount of debt at stake, I don’t recommend having a paralegal be your primary point of contact. It’s essential your lawyer works closely with you from the beginning and knows the ins and outs of your financial situation.
What’s your fee structure? Many attorneys are willing to work with you to set up a payment plan to pay their fees. However, some may require full payment before they file your case.