What Keeps Me Busy

empty chairsThe number of new cases through my doors is down, just like it is everywhere.

But I’m staying busy.   Busier some days than I would like to be.

I thought it might be fun to look at the change in the composition of my cases over the past two years.

More complicated cases

There don’t seem to be any simple cases anymore.  Debtors who have managed to avoid filing bankruptcy til this late in the Great Recession don’t lead simple lives.  Their issues are more complicated, the competing interests are stronger.

Complex cases take more of my time and support a larger fee.

Bankruptcy litigation

I’ve just completed the liability phase of a nondischargeability case, defending a debtor from charges that his moonlighting in the same field as his employer created a non dischargeable debt.

While bankruptcy litigation is down along with filings, there always seem to be more need for good bankruptcy trial lawyers than there is supply.

There are certainly more discharge violations than are ever enforced for the benefit of our clients.  Go on, make that discharge mean something.

Mortgage servicing complaints

For all the attention that mortgage servicing has gotten lately, it doesn’t seem to have gotten any better.  I’m finding that in or out of bankruptcy, homeowners have issues with the servicing on their loans.

And, praise be, we have some new tools to help homeowners in the beefed up procedures for getting information from the servicers.

I’m just getting back the first wave of responses to my requests for information on behalf of clients.  It remains to be seen whether the fixes will be administrative or litigation driven.

It’s clear to me that there is a need for accountability in the servicing world.

Bankruptcy intersects family law

The family law bar feeds me cases as fast as I can digest them.  Most families are fairly financially precarious when intact.  The same income can seldom support two separate households.  Bankruptcy can at least start the former spouses out with less economic baggage.

Yesterday’s new case involved the rights of a family lawyer against the other spouse in that spouse’s bankruptcy case.  The family court awarded the lawyers a lien on the community’s share of a partnership holding a commercial building.  My task will be to figure out the extent which that lien is enforceable in a Chapter 7 case.

Housekeeping deferred

So far, my days have been busy without resorting to cleaning my office or updating my client handouts.

How about you?  What’s keeping you busy?

 

Image courtesy of Flickr and John Haslam.

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  • johnrogersattorney

    Well, for a minute there, I thought you were my partner … that is exactly what is happening in our office !! California, Kentucky … who knew it could be so similar! Keep up the great posts !!

    • Cathy Moran

      I’d be happy to be your partner, John. It’s always remarkable how much practices mirror each other, across the country.

  • Cathy Moran

    AN EMAIL RESPONSE TO THE POST FROM FELLOW BAY AREA LAWYER JACKSON MORRIS:

    Dear Cathy,

    Since we seldom all get together to discuss cases and BK matters at Court like we used to do when we had the appearances, I have some random thoughts I have to pass on to somebody. You’re it.

    Read your Blog. I just settled a Motion for Sanctions against a RE Lender and that helps. I have another I am planning against a foreclosure company that keeps sending certified letters to my client telling her she could lose her house.

    I am doing a Divorce Case and am doing more estate planning.

    I am doing a Contingent Fee case to collect money for an Electrical Contractor.

    You are correct. There are the Complicated BK cases out there.

    Hope the law business picks up for all of us. I have had two Chapter 7 trustee’s very interested in debtor’s jewelry…usually if it is valued by them at $10K or more. They want a list, description, etc. I usually up the exemption if I have it to apply.

    The Trustee’s must have received recent briefing on Jewelry from somebody.

    Here’s a warning. If Debtor has a duplex and lives in one side and rents out the other side, can debtor apply the entire Homeowner’s CA Exemption to the entire property are must he/she only use the exemption for the 1/2 lived in?

    Or if Debtor lives in the Converted Garage, and rents out the main house, how does that affect the Homeowner’s Exemption. She gets all or only applied to the converted garage. the City and County maintain it is one unit on their books.

    The Trustee’s are looking for money these days. Real Estate is going up every month. No more lien stripping.

    Jackson Morris

  • Ryan Hackett

    Just stumbled upon this article. Very true – simple bankruptcy cases are few and far between these days. We are staying busy with more complicated cases and also there is never a shortage of postconfirmation chapter 13 work to do. We have over 300 open/active chapter 13 cases to keep us plugging away.