How to choose a debt collection lawyerThis is a very relevant question, which prompts a good bullet list of ideas and questions for you to use in the selection process of a debt collection law firm.

Is Your Lawyer Qualified?

  • Check your state’s Bar Association to ensure the lawyer is properly admitted to practice law in your state and to verify there are no pending complaints against him.
  • In which Courts is the lawyer permitted to appear to represent clients; both State and Federal Courts?
  • How long has the lawyer been practicing law?
  • Does the lawyer specialize in a particular area of law other than debt collection?
  • If he’s not holding out debt collection as his primary focus, you’ll probably want to move on to another firm which specializes in debt collection.

To What Organizations Does the Lawyer Belong (other than Bar Associations)?

Important note: Membership in these organizations give you three important clues about the lawyer:

  1. It shows he belongs to a network of professionals dedicated to debt collection and widens the geographical areas the lawyer can cover for you.
  2. These organizations provide professional standards focused on debt collection and most have mechanisms to resolve disputes between the lawyer and the client.
  3. They are a ready source to do a reference check to see if there are complaints from clients.

Does the lawyer provide some measure or platform for client education?

This should be on a gratis basis to actually improve your performance and ability to collect without needing legal action.

  • This should instill confidence on your part to know the lawyer is not merely there to grab a fee for handling cases that don’t represent serious delinquencies.

How will this lawyer be compensated?

  • Are his fees contingent upon collection (no fee if no collection)
    • What is the percentage charged for recovering balances owed to you?
  • Or are his fees charged hourly – charged for time spent on your case regardless of whether or not collection is obtained?

Is the lawyer bonded against defalcation or embezzlement?

Understand that when you’re entrusting a lawyer or debt collector to a case at some point they will obtain money belonging to YOU. Having a bond is a critical assurance to you that in the case either the attorney or his employees misappropriates or steals your money, you have some means to be covered for the loss.

Important Note: Law lists are also a ready source of potential reference information on the lawyer – they carefully maintain databases of complaint information and also act to help resolve disputes between clients and lawyers.

If the law firm you are evaluating is lacking in one or more of the areas mentioned above, you should probably avoid the challenge of placing them in charge of debt recovery efforts for you. Here’s a simple analogy; If you go to a general practice attorney it would be similar to going to a family medicine medical doctor to be in charge of your neurosurgery! You NEED the neurosurgeon – not a generalist. Likewise, you wouldn’t go to a neurosurgeon to do a knee replacement. You NEED an orthopedic surgeon! They’re all doctors – they all went to medical school and have identical general medical educational backgrounds – But they’re in entirely distinct disciplines. It’s no different with lawyers. They all went to law school, but they might be in entirely different specialties now that they’re practicing law. So please – Don’t call a plumber to do electrical work in your home – Get the right person for the specific job at hand and do your due diligence in checking them out BEFORE you begin a relationship.

Dave Greenberg began his career in commercial collections with Dun and Bradstreet in Seattle, Washington. After spending 8 years with D&B, Dave took a position with ABC-Amega Inc. Over a 32-year span, he vastly expanded their international department and became an industry leader in the commercial-international niche sector. He was a Past President of the California Commercial Collectors Association, on the panel of commercial arbitrators for the American Arbitration Association, and the Council of Better Business Bureaus, while also remaining active in the US Air Force Reserve.

He is a co-author for both FCIB and ICTF for their online credentialing courses for international credit management offered through Michigan State University and Thunderbird School of Global Management. Over the decades, Dave traveled the world, providing speaking engagements to credit grantors from Cyprus to Germany to China. He currently serves as Legal Liaison with the Law Offices of Gary A. Bemis.

Dave is also an author of children’s books and, along with his wife, recently moved to California to be closer to their grandson.

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