26 Jan My Mail Person Will Know That I Filed Bankruptcy?
I received a phone call once from a very distressed client because I had placed on the outside of an envelope, United States Bankruptcy Court. Now the mailman knew that they filed bankruptcy and I have violated attorney client privilege. This was early on in my practice and a new scenario to me. I never publish either on my mailings or on telephone messages as to what type of law I practice just so people looking or listening would not know what my client was up to. Again this was a new scenario for me and I became curious as to what my clients were looking at. (This issue has risen again recently so I thought it might be helpful to revisit the mailing process.)
The clients brought the envelope to me. The envelope listed the return address as the United States Bankruptcy Court and my name as the attorney of record. I explained to them that I had no control over what the court published and it what manner. However, I did remind them that bankruptcy is a public forum. A colleague of mine, David Leibowitz, recently wrote an article about how the general public can discover your bankruptcy information through PACER. In addition to the mailings and PACER the filing of your case may be published in your town’s newspaper.
The general rule of thumb is that where ever legal proceedings are published the bankruptcy information may be published too. There is nothing we can do to stop the publication as your creditors both known and unknown have the right to be informed of your bankruptcy filing. Keep in mind I practice in Kansas City, Missouri. Every town is different as to whether or not they publish the bankruptcy filings. If you are curious, pick up the paper and look in your Legal Notices section or call the newspaper directly and ask. I would even caution that court mailing procedures may differ from state to state. But in my area if you file bankruptcy, you and your creditors will be receiving envelopes with a return address of the United States Bankruptcy Court. If your postal carrier is anything like mine, his only thought is will he able to finish his route on time and without interference. Not whether or not you are in the middle of filing bankruptcy.
Remember that knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have as to how bankruptcy works the more power you will have to handle your case in a public forum.