I Flunked Mindreading

For six months, I’ve been writing this blog for newish bankruptcy lawyers, trying to imagine what it is that I know about this practice that you, as a newcomer, needs to know sooner rather than later.

I’ve shamelessly lifted stories from my clients and those of my local newbies to write about here.  I’ve snatched issues I’ve tripped over to share with you.

Enough!  Rather than me guessing what you’d like to see here, how about you tell me?  Do you want discussion of the law?  Tricks of the trade? More about cases?  Education by parables?  Is it too basic? Too advanced?

Who are you?  New to law?  Just new to this field?  My competition snickering about things I think interesting?

Come out and tell me.

Image courtesy Wikipedia.

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  • Kelly

    It seems that a lot of self-represented debtors are going to preparing services and getting kicked out of court. I’d like to know where you think a Virtual Law Practice (meaning on-line lawyer; not in-person contact) could help or hurt Bankruptcy clients.

    I’m a 15 year lawyer, but new to bankruptcy.

    I’m enjoying and appreciating your writing, stories, and instruction.

    • Seems to me you are either the debtor’s lawyer (whereever you are) or you are not their lawyer. Not sure what role “virtual” plays in that equation.

      I see lots of institutional hostility to the out of district lawyers representing clients they’ve never met. Debtor testified at a 341 I was at last week that she had never TALKED to a lawyer until after the first 341 meeting. The UST and the judges here will make that kind of practice unprofitable, real quick.

  • Grieta Gilchrist

    Hi Cathy – I am new to bankruptcy and while not a brand new lawyer, still pretty new (have been admitted since 2005). I really like your website/writing and it helps me, but since I am getting ready to file my first petition, I was wondering if you had any suggestions regarding a treatise or other reference for consumer bankruptcy. I did sign up for the course and that was helpful to, but I learn a lot by reading and so looking for something to round it out.
    Thanks, Grieta

    • Have you signed up for the 16 module course on filing your first case? http://members.bankruptcymastery.com

      Other than that, the NCLC book and any of the tapes from NACBA workshops for beginners would be useful.

      Cathy

      • Grieta Gilchrist

        I am a proud student of your bankruptcy course, and that has been really helpful. Thanks for the additional resources.

  • Even the simplest Chapter 7 can have vehicles with loans on them that the debtor wants to keep, which brings up the subject of auto reaffirmation agreements. I’ve talked to experienced bankruptcy attorneys about this subject and still don’t think I have a handle on it with all the different possibilities, procedures, and dangers. What I’m talking about, though, would require more than a blog article.

  • LegalSecy

    Hi Cathy. I am still following this website and I love it.

    I worked with a number of new bankruptcy attorneys and watched them being mentored (or sometimes not so much). This is my personal “top 5” list of topics that often made new bankruptcy attorneys wish they’d learned that in law school:

    1) Writing a good Ch 13 Plan.

    2) Dealing with clients who lie to their attorneys, or at least forget to disclose extremely important information to their attorney. (Sometimes these same clients disclose that info to support staff and then ask us not to tell their attorney!)

    3) Clients whose divorce has left a shambles of deeds, titles, loans and mortgages which have owners/signatories/responsible parties on them that differ from who has been assigned possession/responsibility for the asset or debt as a result of the divorce order.

    4) Clients who forget or maybe don’t even realize that they own a small business. (This is one of my “favorites” – and much more common than many people realize.)

    5) For brand new attorneys just out of law school — how to best make use of support staff. Sometimes I would see new attorneys spending way too much time doing things that support staff could easily do, and then asking the support staff to do things that would be better done by the attorney.

    • Legal Secretary, an online pal for years, has good ideas here. She offered them, I’ll use them. Thanks.

  • Gus

    Hi Cathy,
    I love the format (meaning… I’m more than happy with more of the same). I’m new to bankruptcy (I started practicing less that a year ago) and this has been my favorite source. I truly appreciate your work!

  • Lex

    Dear Ms. Moran:

    I’m afraid and frustrated/annoyed.

    1) I Didn’t Know I’m That Ignorant.

    You do a wonderful job of making bankruptcy accessible and, well, human. And there are numerous treatises that can offer other good things. But I fear the non-bankruptcy law of bankruptcy practice. I can accept my limits, if I know them.

    I would appreciate lessons on how family law, tax law, foreclosure law, et al, how they connect with bankruptcy. Knowing that property of the estate means x, y, and z, is fine and dandy. But fully understanding that X (offer in compromise) that Y (separation agreement) that Z (mortgage), well, that’s another thing entirely.

    2) Procedure…Schmacedure.

    I want to help clients. I don’t want to spend time (or money on Visine and aspirin) figuring out why this creditor gets served by first class mail, but that creditor gets served by CM/ECF — oh, and the deadline for that is 30 days, but this other deadline is 45 days.

    A few lessons simplifying or condensing the most important rules of procedure would be helpful.

    3. Seeing is Believing…Or at Least Understanding

    Might there be some type of flowchart, some kind of color-coded mind map, that puts the Code and Rules in perspective. Professor Lopuki has something useful. Might there be something more along those lines, but on the micro level as opposed to his macro level. It would be nice to actually have my mind’s eye see some of the laws and rules, see shapes and colors, as opposed to looking at and flipping through one indistinguishable black and white page after an other.

    You provide a great service. Regardless of whether any of my ramblings strike you as meaningful, I appreciate what you do.

  • Cathy Moran, Esq.

    Good thoughts about trying to highlight the “Eureka” moments when you find a tax or probate question lurking. I’ll add those to my list.

    The utility of the knowledge of a general practitioner is what drove my piece written after this one on attending our California bar convention, packed with continuing ed courses.

    As to procedure, I’m not certain there’s an “instant bloom” pill that will give you everything you need to know about procedure. Some close reading of Code and Rules is probably required.

    As to a flow chart that’s a great idea. I too am a visual learner. I’ll tinker with the idea and see if I can develop something.

  • Hi Cathy,

    The posts on the law, problem clients, etc. are very informative, but as a brand spanking noob (new to practice, new to bankruptcy), I’d really like insight into how you handle lead generation, client intake, case management, etc. Jay Fleischman
    does a great job of talking about getting the word out in general and on the internet, Max Gardner has a lot of great information on leveraging your existing client base into other areas, and your blogs do a great job of getting into the actual practice of bankruptcy, but as of yet, I have not found a really informative source on the nuts and bolts of bk practice management.

    Just my 2c, and thanks for your content!

  • Marie

    Cathy, I’m a long time legal secretary and reader of your blog. This article appeared in my local newspaper tonight and I thought it might be good blog material, if you’re interested:

    http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x1594963448/Springfield-woman-indicted-on-bankruptcy-fraud

    (I hope the link comes through.)

    • Cathy Moran, Esq.

      Marvelous. Thank you for sharing. There’s nothing like a real, live prosecution to sharpen your thinking about the “whole truth”…