Most Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcies are relatively standardized and legal fees are low compared to other legal work. In 2011, one of the Orlando bankruptcy judges issued a Memorandum Opinion which discussed the market for Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney fees in central Florida. The court stated that the average cost of hiring an attorney to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in central Florida ranges between $1,250 and $2,500 plus filing fees and other costs. Attorneys charging fees within this typical range, the court noted, meet with their clients as necessary, but they rely on paralegals to complete necessary pleadings, maintain client contact, and follow up on details involved in a bankruptcy case.
My office charges legal fees of $1,425 (plus filing fees) for a basic and typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy of a debtor who is under median income and not required to complete a means test analysis. Like all other attorneys, I charge somewhat more for higher income debtors where preparation of the means test is required, and I charge more for debtors with complicated issues which may result in challenges from creditors or bankruptcy trustees.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are always more complicated than Chapter 7 cases and, therefore, attorneys fees are higher. The Orlando judges expect and approve legal fees up to $4,500 (in addition to the filing fee) to file and complete a standard Chapter 13 case. If your Chapter 13 case involves a wholly-owned business, or other complicated legal issues, legal fees will be higher. The court also allows an additional fee of $1,500-$2,500 in cases where the debtor chooses to take advantage of the court’s mortgage mediation program.
My office charges $4,000 for a typical Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. I collect $2,500 prior to filing the case and the remaining fees are paid through the bankruptcy plan. My fees are higher if the debtor owns his own business, owns several parcels or real property, is seeking mortgage modification mediation, and/or is stripping a wholly unsecured second/third mortgage lien, etc.