American Bar Association
Alabama State Bar
Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
National Association of Consumers Bankruptcy Attorneys
Expertise badge

Bankruptcy Basics - Part 9: Legal Assistance

The following program was produced by the United States Courts.

Individuals have a right to represent themselves in bankruptcy court. However, bankruptcy is a complex area and involves many considerations including whether to file, what chapter to file under, and what exemptions to claim. It is important to understand all of the protections of the bankruptcy code in order to make full use of them.

The right decision for you depends on an evaluation of your family situation, your assets, your obligations, and many other factors. It is a very serious step that could affect you for the rest of your life. It is possible to lose all of your assets in a bankruptcy and still come out owing all of your debts. A lawyer can explain to you how the process works and can help you make the right decisions. Some debtors use non lawyer bankruptcy petition filing services to complete the documents that must be filed with the court. While this may cost less than consulting an attorney, these services are prohibited by law from giving legal advice or representing you in court. If a problem arises, they won't be able to help you.

If you are contemplating a chapter 13 or chapter 11 case, the need to be represented by an attorney as even greater. The complexities of the law make it extremely difficult for a debtor to successfully complete a chapter 13 or chapter 11 case without the assistance of an attorney. A corporation cannot represent itself in a bankruptcy case and must be represented by an attorney.

Debtors are strongly encouraged to find competent legal counsel. Even if you cannot afford to pay an attorney, you may be able to qualify for free or discounted legal services, depending on your annual income and number of dependents. There are a number of resources available to help you find a lawyer. Many cities have lawyer referral services listed under lawyer attorney or information and referral services in the Yellow Pages of the phone book. A referral service will give you an appointment with a lawyer for a nominal fee. Your state and local bar associations are also good sources of information about hiring an attorney and finding free, also known as pro bono, legal services programs.

In addition many law schools have legal clinics that offer free legal services. Other resources for finding free or discounted lawyer services in your area include the American Bar Association's legal help page at, and the Legal Services Corporation website at I hope you found this video informative and helpful to you as you ponder whether bankruptcy is the remedy for your particular situation. If you have any more questions about bankruptcy, you may obtain informational brochures from the bankruptcy court, and you may access additional information at the bankruptcy court’s website, which includes useful links for debtors. You can find links to local court websites on the US Courts website at

To find your court’s website go to the court web site locator, choose the bankruptcy court as the court you want to locate, and then search by either your city and state or your ZIP code. Local court websites often have contact information for bar associations and pro bono legal services programs as well as important procedural information. Another good resource on the US Courts website is the link to the bankruptcy Basics documents.

Remember, bankruptcy laws help people who can no longer pay their creditors get a fresh start by liquidating their assets to pay their debt or by creating a repayment plan. Good luck with your fresh start.

Client Reviews
Brandon was my first choice for an attorney because he is part of the community and you see him at the local store or PTA meetings and he always has time for you and answer your concerns. Ronica Phifer
The Sellers Law Firm represented me in my social security case, and later in my Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I have been very happy with all that you have done for me, and I refer people to you all the time. Thanks for all that you have done for me and my family. Angie Langford
I would like to start out by saying Brandon sellers is more than a lawyer that has helped my family out in numerous occasions but he's also a great friend to our family. Whenever he can't find a resolution for the problem he always recommends somebody that can. I've known him for years grew up together always been really good friends. I like to say in closing I'm really glad I know him I'm glad he's been able to help us when we've needed him. Thanks for everything you've done. Timothy Palmer
The sellers law firm is the best in Alabama they are friendly and very professional from the attorneys to the people in the office. They where very helpful throughout the whole process and even after it was over. So if you are in need for a bankruptcy firm give Brandon sellers a call you won't be disappointed Thank you Again Brian Floyd
I highly recommend Sellers Law Firm, they are fantastic and care about their clients. They walk you through step by step and advise you of your options. Sheila Wright