07 Jun Bankruptcy And Education
Bankruptcy and education should walk hand in hand but many times they do not, unfortunately.
I have spent a very long day today meeting new clients, educating other clients on their discharge and preparing for a lecture I have in St. Louis. The common theme of the day is education. Educating potential clients about their rights under the law, educating old clients about their rights post discharge and preparing to educate attorneys on how to use Acrobat. My mother is a retired educator, although, does anyone ever truly retire from that field? So it is natural that teaching is a part of my personality. I have been teaching in one form or fashion since I began providing swim lessons to little ones at Y while in college. To me it is natural to think that an attorney should teach you about the law and YOUR rights. Apparently and again, unfortunately, this is not always the case.
A new client today told me that she went to another attorney, he spent less than five minutes looking at her pay statements and told her she made too much money to file bankruptcy. Then he gave her a referral to someone who knew how to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Now, the attorney probably indicated that she might make too much for a Chapter 7 but all she heard was she made too much money to file bankruptcy. Really????? I just have not run across a case yet that someone made too much money to file bankruptcy. You might have to file a Chapter 13 and pay your unsecured debt back at 0% but you are still eligible to file bankruptcy.
My other beef about her unfortunate experience is that the “bankruptcy attorney” had no clue about a Chapter 13 and therefore could not properly advise her as to the full extent of her rights. After listening to her story there is a possibility that she may qualify for a Chapter 7 based on the facts from the interview that lasted sixty minutes and not five. I have another client that is going through a divorce. She told me that her divorce attorney kept muttering about a thirty day period. When I asked what he was talking about her reply was she was not sure or even if it related to the bankruptcy or the divorce. When I asked why she did not ask him, her reply was that he keeps brushing her off because he is always in a hurry. My reply? “Here is a name to an attorney that my clients have worked in the past who takes the time to educate her clients about the divorce process.”
My friend and colleague Jay Fleischman wrote an article today in the same vein. It is titled, “Why you shouldn’t treat your clients like Muppets.” Out of that article I learned something new. Muppet is slang for idiot. Kinda makes me sad for Kermit because he seemed like a pretty smart fella. But all kidding aside, Jay is attempting to teach other attorneys that our job should be to educate you about the process, regardless of the area of the law. Many attorneys are either scared that if they provide you with knowledge that you will no longer need them or in the alternative, it is beneath them to take the time to teach you. There is also a third group that attorneys may fall into and those are the ones who have just become too busy to remember why they entered the practice of law and therefore are experiencing compassion burnout.
The ones who fall into compassion burnout can and often do come back from the brink and find the compassion to care for and teach their clients again. The other two groups will only change if they find that there is a problem and therefore want to change. What does this mean for you as a current debtor in a bankruptcy or a potential debtor? This means you have the right to know what is taking place in your case. You have the right to make an informed decision whether you are hiring a physician, a lawyer or anyone else. You have the right to be respected and not treated like a Muppet.
Knowledge is power. I say this time and time again. I use it in my speaking engagements. I use it with my clients and other attorneys. I use it with my family and just about everyone I meet. I truly believe that knowledge is power and you should be given the knowledge so that you may have the power to make an informed decision. Teaching or providing knowledge is an evolutionary process. This is certainly true in the field of bankruptcy because the case law is constantly changing and the argument that went your way today may not go your way next week.
But you as the debtor won’t know this unless we keep you informed and share the knowledge. We here at Bankruptcy Law Network believe in sharing the knowledge and this is why we take the time to share through our blog. So if you find yourself in pickle trying to find an attorney who is going to teach you about what your rights are when filing bankruptcy, contact one of us here at Bankruptcy Law Network. If one of us cannot assist you we belong to a national network of bankruptcy attorneys that we can refer you too who are here to care and share.
Remember that knowledge is power! The more knowledge you have about selecting the right attorney to handle your bankruptcy, the more power you will have in obtaining a successful discharge and regain financial control.