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

Getting Rid of Credit Card Debt With Bankruptcy
With a few exceptions, your credit card debt will be discharged in bankruptcy. Find out what happens to credit card debt in Chapters 7 and 13 and when the creditor might ask the bankruptcy court to declare your credit card balance nondischargeable.
Bankruptcy Exemptions: Your Property in Bankruptcy
Learn how bankruptcy exemptions protect your property and assets in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, when you can use state and federal bankruptcy exemptions, and what will happen if the bankruptcy trustee or a creditor objects to an exemption.
Can I Keep My Car in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Most people keep their car in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Here's how it works.
Your Home in Bankruptcy: The Homestead Exemption
Learn about an important bankruptcy exemption for homeowners -- the homestead exemption.
Can I File for Bankruptcy If I Am Unemployed?
Unemployment is not a bar to filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but there are some things you may want to consider.
Documents to Bring to the Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors
Learn what documents you must bring to the meeting of creditors (341 hearing) in your bankruptcy case.
Will Creditors Show Up to My Meeting of Creditors?
In most cases, creditors rarely appear at the meeting of creditors.
Understanding Secured, Unsecured, and Priority Debts in Bankruptcy
You'll indicate whether your debt is secured, unsecured, or priority in the official bankruptcy paperwork you file with the court. The type of debt determines how or whether a creditor will get paid. So a creditor must also identify whether the debt is secured, unsecured, or priority in the proof of claim submitted for payment.
The Chapter 13 Confirmation Hearing
Learn about the confirmation hearing in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, including when it will occur, how repayment plan objections are handled, and what will happen if your plan isn't confirmed.
The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test
You must pass the means test to be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge.