What, Me Worry?

Do you think I worry about these issues too much? the rookie bankruptcy lawyer asked me.

The issue was exemption planning and the question was whether instituting an IRA and funding it for the current year before filing was a transfer, and if so, would it be objectionable to a Chapter 7 trustee.  We went several rounds of email question and answer before she became comfortable with my view that it was perfectly acceptable bankruptcy planning where we both practice.

What I worry about is new bankruptcy lawyers plunging in without worrying a little.  I see a little worry about the issue as highly appropriate when you have only a nodding acquaintance with the Code and a deep dependence on bankruptcy software.  And I applaud young practitioners who are willing to admit their uncertainties and seek input from those more experienced.  There is no reason that a law degree or even experience in other fields of law should make you instantly competent at consumer bankruptcy law.

The longer I practice, the more nuances and pitfalls I see in the facts my clients bring to bankruptcy. I shudder sometimes for the fact I’ve practiced as long as I have without previously seeing and appreciating some newly obvious wrinkle in the law.

My response to the young lawyer was that a little worry was healthy;  too much worry was paralyzing. Where the line between the two is, I can’t say.

My best advice:  dig out all the facts;  think them through, and read the code sections that apply;  be respectful of just how complex this practice can be; and keep learning. It is a marvelous undertaking for a lawyer.

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