Cara O'Neill


Cara O'Neill is a legal editor at Nolo, focusing on bankruptcy and small claims. She also maintains a bankruptcy practice at the Law Office of Cara O’Neill and teaches criminal law and legal ethics as an adjunct professor. Cara has been quoted in bankruptcy, finance, small claims, and litigation articles by news outlets that include USA Today, CNBC, U.S. News & World Report, Nerd Wallet, and Yahoo Finance.

Cara received her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she graduated a member of the Order of the Barristers—a highly-selective honor society that gives national recognition to top law school graduates demonstrating excellent skills in trial advocacy, oral advocacy, and brief writing.

Working at Nolo. Cara started writing for Nolo as a freelancer in 2014 and became a full-time legal editor in 2016. She has authored a number of Nolo self-help legal books, including How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, The New Bankruptcy, Everybody's Guide to Small Claims (national version), and Everybody's Guide to Small Claims in California. She also co-authors and edits Solve Your Money Troubles and Credit Repair and has written hundreds of articles for,,, and

Early legal career. Before joining Nolo, Cara spent 20 years working as a trial attorney litigating criminal and civil cases. She also served as an administrative law judge mediating disputes between auto manufacturers and dealerships and began teaching law as an adjunct professor in 2004. She added bankruptcy to her practice after the 2008 financial downturn.

Origins of litigation and writing career. Thanks to her mother, Cara’s advocacy training began early and involuntarily. In junior high school, she took second place two years running in the local Optimist Club speaking competition. She also successfully competed on her high school speech and debate team for several years, eventually serving as president of the same. During law school, she competed on a nationally ranked ABA moot court team for two years (and was recruited for a third, but declined) and served as a law journal editor.

Articles By Cara O'Neill

What to Expect at the Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors (341 Hearing)
The meeting of creditors (341 hearing) is an important part of every Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
Will Creditors Show Up to My Meeting of Creditors?
In most cases, creditors rarely appear at the meeting of creditors.
How to Value Personal Property on Your Bankruptcy Petition
Here are the basic methods for figuring out the value of your property in bankruptcy.
What Does Bankruptcy Do?
Bankruptcy can stop collection activities, eliminate most types of debt, and allow you to reorganize your debts and catch up on missed mortgage or car loan payments.
What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and How Do You File?
Get a quick overview of the process and steps involved in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: What to Avoid Before and After Filing
For a trouble-free Chapter 7 bankruptcy, avoid these transactions before filing.
What Happens to a Personal Guarantee in Bankruptcy?
Learn how to discharge a personal guarantee in bankruptcy.
Medical Bankruptcies: How to Get Rid of Medical Debt
Learn how to wipe out medical debt in bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Clawbacks of Preferential & Fraudulent Transfers
The bankruptcy trustee can void preferential or fraudulent transfers of property before you filed.
Do I Have Enough Debt to File for Bankruptcy?
Although you don't have to have a minimum amount of debt to be eligible for bankruptcy, you'll need to meet other qualification requirements, as well as determine whether bankruptcy is a good option for you.