Use All Channels to Educate Bankruptcy Debtors

teach clientsThe skill set of a consumer bankruptcy lawyer must include a healthy dose of  the skills of a teacher.

The client has to master any number of legal issues and procedures to make informed decisions about the case.  An effective lawyer has a plan for how to convey all those things the debtors need to know.

As the parent of children with learning disabilities, I learned that each person has a preferred learning style:  some learn best by seeing; others learn best by hearing; others by feeling; and some by movement.

And the indisputable fact is that individuals contemplating bankruptcy are generally not functioning at their best.

Stress makes us stupid

The challenge for a bankruptcy lawyer  to teach the client enough about bankruptcy to make the necessary decisions is daunting.

So, how to do it?

Many roads to wisdom

Maybe we don’t need to aim for “wisdom”.  Maybe it’s enough to convey sufficient information that the client can participate in the necessary decision making.

After all, there are lots of decisions to be made in filing a bankruptcy case.

Use each learning channel:

tell the client what they need to know, and,

give them written summaries of the material.

Different clients will pick up the information better in one fashion than another.

Put basic information on your web site.  Remind them of basic points when you meet.  Summarize important decision points in a letter.

Belt and suspenders, put the information in several forms and you increase the chances that your client absorbs the information.

When all else fails

Recall that there is a another learning channel:  some folks are tactile learners.

So I am often tempted slap them alongside the head, and pound the information in.  I try, however, to resist temptation….


What makes a bankruptcy lawyer great

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Do Your Bankruptcy Schedules Tell the Client’s Story?

The last check before you file your client’s bankruptcy schedules should be a step back to see if the schedules “tell the story”.  The background and the color don’t make it to schedules and SOFA, but you need to read them from the trustee’s point of view to see if they make sense and reflect the realities of the client’s life.

Things to look at before you push the button to file:

  1. Have you listed anticipated changes in income and expenses on Schedule I and J?
  2. Does the number of dependents on Schedule I match the number in the household on B-22?
  3. In Chapter 7, does Schedule J make provision for paying priority claims that will survive bankruptcy?
  4. Does SOFA account for foreclosures, lawsuits, levies and other losses of property pre petition?
  5. Do projected budgets deal with divorce, separation or relocation?

For many things in the schedules, there is not one single way to express the facts.  Focus on getting the important information or the relevant changes on paper in a way that lets the trustee know what the story is.  Add a note or attach a schedule to tell the pertinent parts of the client’s story.