Bankruptcy Software Cannot Think for You

** This article will help you to understand important basic information if you are an attorney just getting started or transitioning to the field of debtor bankruptcy law.

An attorney called me today.  She was in a hurry and wanted to know what software she needed that would prepare a bankruptcy petition in about an hour.  I told her that none existed.  She then proceeded to tell me about an attorney who had a software program that imported credit reports, filled in all the creditor addresses and did everything, including filing her petition at the press of a button.  I explained to her that almost all bankruptcy software programs perform these same functions; but there is no bankruptcy software program that is going to practice law for her.  She was disgusted at my response but it is the same response I get from new attorneys quite often.

Remember the old saying: What looks too good to be true, probably is?  All adults should know by now that anything that appears to be simple and easy actually requires a skill.  I wrote an article one time about how horrible I was at trying to bag my own groceries at the store.  I explained that even something that sounds like it could be simple (like bagging groceries) still takes a skill that is only learned by practice.

Therefore, every person reading this article needs to reprogram their brain to understand that no bankruptcy software program is going to THINK for you.  Software programs only make some jobs easier.  You still need to go in and check data, categorize it, determine priorities and much more.  No software program is going to do that no matter how much you pay for it.

HOW DID THIS RUMOR GET STARTED?  LETS EXAMINE A REAL LIFE SITUATION:

John Q Public is sitting at home watching television.  He hears the rumor (started by the new media) that he can save his home if he files a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  John Q Public is 9 months behind on his mortgage and facing a foreclosure because he lost his job.  Mr. Public rushes to the phone to call Ms. Attorney and tell her he wants to file a Chapter 13.

Note: For those of you who work within the bankruptcy system, you already know this statement by the media is only partially true.  The media conveniently leaves out the fact that a person cannot qualify to file a Chapter 13 if they are unemployed and have no money left after paying their basic living expenses.  That is the catch; however, John Q Public does not know that.

Ms. Attorney, who, through a lack of training, offers to file a Chapter 13 for John Q, Public.  Ms. Attorney uses her bankruptcy software program to prepare the bankruptcy petition.  Ms. Attorney has little or no training in preparing the petition and she spends from 6 to 8 hours just correcting and adjusting information (that the software cannot do).  She was unaware of this when she purchased the software because she was under the assumption that it did everything for her.

Next, Ms. Attorney is overwhelmed by the fact that she has also not been properly trained in how to gather all the necessary information for preparing petitions, properly counseling her clients and how to filter out clients who do not qualify for bankruptcy and help them through debt counseling or some other form of assistance.  Without this basic knowledge, new bankruptcy attorneys are going to be in for a very rocky road ahead; especially since there is no software program that is going to do all of this for them.

What happens next is another nightmare.  After Ms. Attorney enters in all the income for John Q Public and his wife, John Q Public does not qualify for a Chapter 13.  In a situation like this some attorneys will try to still push the bankruptcy through by finding an income from another source or suggest the debtor get a part-time job so he or his wife can qualify to file a Chapter 13.

Or, if Ms. Attorney manages to get the bankruptcy petition filed by some other method, she will still risk extreme embarrassment at the 341 Meeting when she is in front of the client, creditors and the Trustee.  When the Trustee finds these issues and brings them to the table, many attorneys will simply stop accepting Chapter 13s or stop doing bankruptcy altogether rather than face this situation again.  This is sad; because the result was only caused from a lack of training and knowledge in building her practice.  Another old saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

LOGICAL POINTS TO CONSIDER

If you are a seasoned bankruptcy attorney, I urge you to pass this information on to new attorneys.  In doing so, you and I are helping to improve professionalism and positive growth within the bankruptcy field.  If you are a new attorney, I urge you to study the following logical points:

1.   If a bankruptcy software program existed that could do all the thinking for you, why would someone need to hire a bankruptcy attorney?  Why not just buy the software and call it a day?

2.   If the bankruptcy court allows an attorney to charge $1,000 or more for a Chapter 13, do you not think there must be more work involved?  Some attorneys think the software does the work for them; but remember that the court does not just grant a large sum like this to an attorney without good reason.

3.   If you were going to open a pizza shop, would it be a good idea to learn how to make pizza first?  If you are going to start a new bankruptcy practice, would it be a good idea then to learn about the process first?  The least a new attorney can do is login to the American Bankruptcy Institute and view the free training videos at:

http://www.uscourts.gov/video/bankruptcybasics/bankruptcyBasics.cfm

Although these videos were made for attorneys to place on their websites to inform their clients about bankruptcy, they are still excellent in helping new attorneys understand the basics.  I always tell my students to study the law from a legal perspective as well s the consumer perspective.  It provides you with a better balance of knowledge that will carry throughout the life of your law career.

ONE SOLUTION TO CONSIDER

The videos from the American Bankruptcy Institute will NOT show you how to gather information from your clients, prepare the petition or run your practice.  That education has never been taught to attorneys and either they learn the skill through trial and error or from an experienced paralegal.

As the author of this article, I would be more than happy to talk with any attorney who is considering getting involved in the bankruptcy field. You can email me at:
victoriaring1958@gmail.com

I hope this information helps you.

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