The usual road to a good education is to seek out the best teacher or the school with the deepest resources; you want people who know the field thoroughly to pass that knowledge on to you. So, why is it that the field of bankruptcy law these days is overrun with lawyers trying to pick up bankruptcy law on their own and on the fly?
Maybe’s it’s the American, can-do attitude or our admiration for the self taught. I’m proud to have taught myself to cook and sew, both skills that I excel at. But teaching yourself to practice bankruptcy law isn’t the same. When I botch a new recipe or cooking technique, I can discard my mistake. I can’t do that when I miss an issue in a client’s bankruptcy case.
Maybe it’s the economic times. Traditional legal jobs are hard to come by and lots of newly fledged lawyers are fending for themselves, at a time when there is huge demand bankruptcy lawyers. Supply, meet demand.
Maybe it has something to do with being lawyers: we have a license that stands for law school survival and trial by fire in the form of the bar exam. We figure if we could do that, we’re genuinely capable of anything. (Isn’t that an S on our undershirt?) We forget that it took at least three years of study to hit those benchmarks: they didn’t turn us loose on the citizenry after a semester of organized study.
But, it’s worth repeating that line: we have a license. And we want to keep it. We have an ethical duty to be competent. We have a duty to our clients to leave them better off for our representation. Fail that test and find another line of work.
So, if the field is new to you, don’t be gulled into thinking “it’s just filling out forms”. It’s as complex as people’s lives, relentless creditors, and obtuse statutes. It’s bankruptcy law.