I’ve been practicing bankruptcy law on the San Francisco Peninsula for over 37 years. These days, I describe myself as wife, mother and lawyer, the identities reordered to suit the occasion.
I grew up in a tiny town in California’s Central Valley, the oldest of four children. My father was a veterinarian, which meant we lived on a small ranch, had horses for fun; cattle for a little extra cash, and goats, sheep, and whatever exotic pets my father acquired just for the heck of it. I learned to train horses, was a highly successful 4-Her, and an odd duck in a time and place that didn’t know what to do with a bright, ambitious, and energetic girl not interested in being a cheerleader. Home was a refuge; among the four children, we’ve evolved into three lawyers and a university professor.
I got into bankruptcy law just after we opened our law office. The lawyer with the office next door was a bankruptcy practitioner and scratched on our door one day with a problem. His best client, the bankruptcy trustee, had sent him a case he couldn’t take because of a conflict. We’d been practicing for all of six months, so we had few clients and therefore few conflicts. The deal was this: if we’d take the case, he’d show us the ropes.
I tried bankruptcy and loved it. It was practical, result oriented and intellectually rich. You saw all kinds of people and businesses and explored the intriguing intersections where federal bankruptcy law met state law. I was hooked.
I represented trustees for about the first 10 years I practiced bankruptcy and in the early 90’s moved more and more to a debtor practice. When the debt limits in Chapter 13 increased from $100K/300K , I threw myself into the practice, as Chapter 13 had just become meaningful for homeowners in the high cost San Francisco Peninsula.
Today, I practice with a partner Renee Mendoza in Redwood City, California, down the freeway from Stanford, where I received my undergraduate degree in political science.
I count myself incredibly lucky to find the practice of law more satisfying with each year. I continually see new wrinkles in the law, I meet people whose lives I can better with the skills I bring to the table.
My life is full.
And that’s where Bankruptcy Mastery comes in. It’s a way to pass on my hard-won knowledge and understanding of the way things work in bankruptcy court.
So lean forward, take good notes, and remember that if you aren’t willing to put in the effort then you’ll never attain your goals.