If a debt collector is after you, should you hire an attorney?

The short answer is if there is a clear return on investment from a cost-benefit analysis, yes.  If it would cost more to retain an attorney than you would benefit, no.

The Washington Debt Law Representation Rule

We have a very simple bottom line rule for offering to represent you:

Will our involvement in your matter result in greater benefit than not involving us?

To answer this question, we break it down to a two part analysis:

  1. What defenses, facts, laws, and other factors can we argue to establish leverage?
  2. Are the legal fees that would be necessary less than what we could save you?

The first sub part requires a discussion of leverage.  In essence, leverage can be anything that improves your position in the matter.  It could be a strong counterclaim, the ability to file bankruptcy, the willingness to use social media to you advantage, having all of your income be garnishment proof, etc.  The stronger your leverage, the easier (and usually cheaper) it is to resolve your case.  If you have no leverage or weak leverage, it is harder to do our job and we must dig deeper into the tool box for solutions.  Once we understand your leverage, then we will understand what it takes and what it costs to defend you.

Once we know what it takes to defend you, we can answer the second part of the question by doing a cost-benefit analysis.  Is the cost of defense less than what we would save you?  For example, if you have a $1,000.00 debt you would not spend $10,000.00 defending it.  Sometimes if there are non-economic factors such as you are running for office and need something handled discretely or you have a license and being hit with a judgment would trigger mandatory reporting, then this is not a straight cost of defense to amount of the debt analysis.  If there is a consumer protection style defense, we are usually able to help you on a contingent basis.

Generally, if there is a clear return on investment, you should likely retain us to provide a defense.  If there is not a clear return on investment or if it would cost more to retain us than it would benefit you, you should not retain us.  In many instances, we will decline representation in the second scenario due to legal ethical requirements under the rules of professional conduct all attorneys are subject to.

Examples of when we would recommend retention:

Examples of when we WOULD NOT recommend services:

If you have been sued by a collector or are being garnished, should you retain us?

To make sure that there is proper return on investment and that we can yield better savings for hiring us than if you did not, here are the basic guidelines:

  1. Is the collection matter for more than $5,000.00?  If yes, then generally we recommend you retain us.
  2. If the collection matter is less than $5,000.00 but if you total all of your debts it exceeds $10,000.00, then we generally recommend that you retain us.
  3. If the collection matter is for less than $5,000.00 and your total debts are below $10,000.00, but the collector has done something illegal, then we generally recommend that you contact us to verify the violation is one that we can represent you on a contingent basis.  See our list of common consumer protection violations.

If you fit one of the above three scenarios, please visit our collection defense scheduling page.

You should not retain us if:

  1. The collection is for less than $5,000.00, AND
  2. Your total debt load is below $10,000.00, AND
  3. There are no violations of law or consumer protection violations committed by the creditor

If your situation matches the above three factors, it will be very unlikely that we can cost effectively represent you and we would recommend that you visit our resources page for free and pro bono options.

Commonly asked questions and advice:

  1. Bad Service of Process:  I was not served properly, what do I do?
  2. Credit Report Issues: How do I dispute negative tradelines on my credit report?
  3. Identity Theft: I am a victim of identity theft, what do I do?
  4. Self Settling: How do I contact the creditor to settle on my own?
  5. Scammer/Fake Collector: How do I know if a person attempting to collect is real or a scammer?