This question is somewhat difficult to answer, because I can’t really speak for other law firms and why they might charge one fee as opposed to another. Some charge quite a bit, and some charge only a very small amount.
The real question to ask is whether or not the firms that you are engaging have the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully navigate your case through the bankruptcy process. So regardless of how much you pay in attorney fees, it is far more important to hire a lawyer who knows what they are doing.
But the question still stands, Why does the cost between firms vary so much for filing a bankruptcy? Well, if I’m being honest, the firms that charge bargain-basement prices are probably not going to do a very good job on your case. It’s one of those situations where you get-what-you-pay-for. On the other hand, there are firms that charge an arm and a leg to do even the simplest cases (like a straightforward St. Louis Chapter 7 that does not require an excessive amount of work to get the case filed). These law firms consider themselves to be ‘established’ and ‘well-credentialed,’ and therefore have the right charge higher fees for their services. And if you are willing to pay extra money just to have a big name firm handle your case, then that’s fine. But the excess fees are really going towards nothing more than the logo on the firm’s front door.
The St. Louis bankruptcy attorneys at Brinkman & Alter, LLC charge $750 for St. Louis Chapter 7, and receive $500 in up-front fees for a St. Louis Chapter 13 (the rest of the fees being folded in the Chapter 13 plan). The idea behind keeping our fees so reasonable is because we feel that filing for bankruptcy should not be one more thing that you cannot do (especially if you are dealing with high levels of unsecured debt like credit cards and medical bills, or if you are constantly being harassed by phone calls from your creditors).