Bankruptcy Training Articles

WSJ Reports- Bankruptcy Judge Sends a Message to Bank of America

Bank of America has been ordered to pay $10,000 per month for every month it continues to badger a couple to pay off a loan that was discharged in bankruptcy, in a ruling from a prominent judge who says he means to “send a message.” “This is not just a stupid mistake. This is a policy,” wrote Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. “And frankly, $10,000.00 a month plus attorney’s fees may not mean much to Bank of America, but at least it will send a message that other attorneys may pick up on.” Judge Drain’s decision, memorialized in a written ruling issued Tuesday, documents a barrage of letters and phone calls attempting to collect the debt from Edwin and Michelle Ramos. Chapter 7 bankruptcy relieved them of the obligation to pay off their home loan while preserving the bank’s right to foreclose on its collateral. The calls and letters kept coming to the Ramoses, even after their attorney pointed out that their personal liability had been discharged in bankruptcy. The bank ignored him, he said, and, according to court records, failed to respond to Judge Drain until 10 days after he signed an order imposing sanctions on the lender. In a statement, Bank of America said it’s “resolving the issues with the court” and working with the homeowners “while we continue researching and investigating what transpired.” Judge Drain is not alone in his criticism of Bank of America. In March, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Karen Jennemann in Orlando, Fla., fined the bank $220,000 for repeated violations of court orders involving a loan-modification arrangement. “The Debtors, even to this date, continue to receive statements from BOA claiming substantial additional payments due, erroneous payment amounts, inflated interest rates and incorrect loan type, and purporting to hold over $12,000 of the Debtors’ payments in ‘unapplied funds,’” Judge Jennemann wrote. When it came to the $227,000 home loan of Warren and Mary Houghland, the judge said it should be considered paid. The bank disputed the order, saying it was unfair, and earlier this year settled with the homeowners. Consumer bankruptcy attorneys say not much has improved in lender behavior in spite of promises that the alleged sins of the past won’t be repeated. Long after Bank of America signed on to a widely trumpeted $25 billion home lending industry consent decree requiring it to improve its treatment of borrowers, consumer attorney Thomas Cox of Maine says violations of specific requirements are “routine. I see them all the time.” Consumers with enough spare cash or savvy to hire a lawyer can prevail on lenders to make good on agreements to modify loans, Mr. Cox said. But they’re in the minority, he said. Most distressed consumers hoping for a loan modification are at the bank’s mercy. The consent decree advertised as the answer to industry practices that wrongly forced people out of their homes lacks an enforcement mechanism, Mr. Cox said. In the case of the discharged debt collection, the Ramoses had to not only hire a lawyer but also had to reopen their bankruptcy case. Last week, Bank of America agreed to stop the calls and letters except for informational notices that inform the Ramoses of what they have to do to hold onto their home. Chapter 7 bankruptcy absolved them of the obligation to pay the debt but preserved the bank’s lien on their property. “This is a national problem. It’s happening all over the place,” said New York attorney Michael Schwartz, who represented the Ramoses. “Why is BofA doing it? Because they can.” Article by Peg Brickley

This is only one of numerous violations and corrupt business seen lately by Bank of America… it’s time the bankruptcy attorneys start paying close attention to the FDPCA violations… it could be well worth the effort and beneficial to both counsel and client!

Do Attorneys Still Practice Law? Are Paralegals Now Practicing Law Instead?

Back in 1977 when I began working for law firms, there was no such thing as a paralegal.  Instead, we were called: legal secretaries.  This is because the attorney studied the law, looked up the law in their office law books and became their own law clerk.  In fact, the attorney learned every aspect of the field of law they chose to operate in and most of them enjoyed it.   By knowing the law they were able to advise their clients properly and write their own pleadings and briefs.  After writing or dictating their pleading or brief, this was given to a legal secretary and we typed out the legal document.  We did not practice law in any manner and we respected the attorney for his or her knowledge.

But in the mid-1980s some attorneys began assigning jobs to their legal secretaries that were similar to what a law clerk performs today.  The problem was that they did not raise their salary and continued to pay them a legal secretarial wage.  The legal secretaries revolted and developed the paralegal role; which was a higher paying position than a legal secretary.

I was one of the few who revolted against this concept.  I believed that attorneys should continue practicing law and legal secretaries should continue in their role and not practice law, but as you know, this is not what happened.  Instead the paralegal role was developed and today we have non-attorneys who are committing unauthorized practice of law, but it is disguised due to the fact the paralegal is employed by an attorney.

Over the years, a large segment of attorneys continued to get lazy.  Many of them depended on their non-attorney staff to know the law and keep them informed of any changes.  These types of attorneys lost the desire and the passion to know the law and practice it with a diligent effort to protect their clients and win their cases.  How do I know this?  I have worked for many of them and I see the increase of this behavior, especially in the bankruptcy field.

Prior to 2005, the bankruptcy field was filled with excellent attorneys who knew the bankruptcy law inside and out.  (I was trained by many of these attorneys.) If an attorney wanted to practice in the bankruptcy arena, he or she would work as a type of apprentice for one of these experienced bankruptcy attorneys and learn the bankruptcy law inside and out also.

But when rumors of the changes in the bankruptcy law began to surface, a large number of these experienced bankruptcy attorneys transitioned into another area of law.  You can look up arguments that attorneys published on the internet from that time period and you will see all the various reasons they opposed the new 2005 bankruptcy law.  Their arguments are too numerous to cover in this short article so I will leave the research to those who are interested in this particular topic.

However, the fact remains that when a large number of experienced bankruptcy attorneys left the field, this opened the field for many new attorneys who did not have this experience.  The number of bankruptcy cases did not stop; in fact, they increased.  And this increase caused many attorneys to open up practices and have little time to learn their bankruptcy laws.  Instead, a large number of them relied on their non-attorney staff to know this information which was the biggest mistake an attorney can make.

How do I know all this?  Not only have I worked in the legal field since 1977, but during the past 90 days I have came into contact with two bankruptcy attorneys who demanded that I know their specific state exemption codes in order to prepare their petitions.  When I argued that the attorney should practice law and know their own exemptions they became angry and fired me.  Both of these attorneys were young (under 40) and both of these attorneys were hard driven to make money, not practice law.

Personally, I find this situation very sad.  I hope that an experienced bankruptcy attorney will read this article and write other articles for legal magazines that stress the importance of why attorneys should practice law and not depend on their non-attorney staff to do the job for them.  Here are just a few of the problems that could develop for a law firm that bases their practice on these principles:

**  The attorney cannot possibly represent and advise their client properly.  Sure, they can make it appear to the client that they are knowledgeable in the law, but they will overlook loopholes that could benefit the client and loopholes the attorney does not take advantage of for their clients protection.

**  The attorney will show his or her ignorance of the law when they go to the 341 Meeting or interact with other attorneys who do know the law.  For example, bankruptcy trustees are very smart.  They process hundreds (perhaps thousands) of bankruptcy cases per year and they know the bankruptcy law inside and out.  A trustee can look at a bankruptcy petition and pick out the flaws.  When they question the attorney, they know from their response if they know the law or not.

Note:  I worked for one attorney who actually had a system of filing his petitions on certain days of the week so he could be assured of getting Trustees assigned to the case who did not give him a hard time.  In my opinion, if the attorney knew the bankruptcy law, he would not need to hand pick Trustees; he would be able to argue his clients case with any Trustee and gain a solid reputation in the court.

**  The attorney will lose the passion and feeling of accomplishment that occurs when they know the law.  There is no better feeling when you are trying to protect a client from wrongdoing by the opposing party and you find the loophole you need to win your case.   I have worked for attorneys like this, and they are so overjoyed and happy, we have had office parties to celebrate these victories.

Summary

If you are an attorney who depends on your non-attorney staff to know the law, stop this behavior now.  Join groups at your local bar association and mentor with experienced attorneys in your field who know the type of law you practice.  Seek them out, hang out with them, and study the law over and over again until you know it well.

If you are not an attorney, make sure you know the type of attorney you hire or work for.  One way to know this is to ask the attorney a series of questions.  If they cannot rapidly answer you (and need to make a call or consult with someone else to find the answer) be very leery of this attorney.

Perhaps in recognizing this problem and not tolerating this behavior from attorneys who choose not to practice law, the problem will not become so rampant in our society.  Thank you for doing your part.

How To Add Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy to Your Current Law Practice

I do not have to tell you about the problems with our economy. If your law firm has not been touched by the current recession, you at least know someone who has.  Now, you have the opportunity to add a much needed bankruptcy service to your current practice in order to assist your current clients in other ways.  And, because of limited funds, you need to be able to do with without spending much money in order to recoupe your investment in less than 30 days.

Believe it or not; this is all very possible.  In fact, my business partner, Victoria Ring, has now set up a total of 127 new bankruptcy law firms across the United States since 2006.  Some of these law firms are provided in the list of Attorney References at: http://www.bankruptcylinks.info/about/attorney-references

SOME IDEAS FOR YOU

There are two different methods for you to consider if you should decide to expand your current law practice into the area of Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy law.

Method No.  1:

Enroll in the online school to learn how to set up your law firm, prepare the bankruptcy petition and market or merge your new bankruptcy practice into your current practice. For more information, visit:

http://www.mybankruptcyschool.com

Note: If you decide to enroll, type the COUPON CODE: MCN into the order form and instantly save $50.00 off your enrollment.

Method No. 2:

Hire a Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant (VBA) to perform all the work for you.  For the intake process, your job will be to meet with the clients, have them fill out the Client Intake Forms, gather up their documents and review the petition after it has been prepared by the VBA.  A good VBA can actually make you money.  For example, you charge $2,500 to a client for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, pay the VBA $400 and earn a profit of $2,100 with only an investment of about three hours of your time.

If you are interested in utilizing this method, consider Kelly Thrasher, CEO of More Clients NOW!. You can contact her by phone at 317-370-5032 or view her online video at:

http://www.moreclients.net

LOOKING FOR MORE IDEAS AND OPTIONS?

We invite you to explore the following links:

http://www.chapter713training.com http://www.chapter7and13bankruptcyblog.com http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing

Have a wonderful week.

The Low Cost Bankruptcy Filing Scam Revealed

Have you noticed the ads in newspapers from law firms claiming to file a bankruptcy for only $300 or $200 or even as low as $150? Did you ever wonder how they can charge this low of an amount and still stay in business?  Here are two scams that use these techniques:

Scam 1: Pretending to do a loan modification

A law firm will advertise to do loan modifications for clients. They rent mailing lists of people facing foreclosure and target them with promises of helping to save their home.

Once the client has paid $4,000 or $5,000, the law firm will claim the mortgage company would not accept their offer. The only choice left for the client is to file bankruptcy. Of course the law firm will pretend to give the clients a deal and charge them $300 or less for filing the petition.  But remember, they just received $4,000 or $5,000 for doing nothing.

How do I know this happens? Because I have personally been involved with four law firms who used these tactics. I refused to work for them, but other virtual assistants worked for law firms like this and reported their horror stories to me.

Scam 2: The low price is only for a skeleton filing

Some law firms will advertise low prices for filing bankruptcy because this price is only for filing the Voluntary Petition and Creditor’s Matrix.  This type of filing will stop any legal action against the debtor but they will only have 14 days before they must file the remaining schedules of the petition.

Of course the law firm will charge extra for Schedule A, Schedule B and so forth.  By the time the clients pay for each remaining schedule, they have more money invested compared to paying an honest bankruptcy attorney the full fee in the beginning.

Summary

There are bad attorneys and good attorneys. There are bad doctors and good doctors. There are bad waiters and good waiters. There are bad people and good people.  No one is immune from scams because they exist everywhere.

But the next time you see one of those low-cost ads for filing bankruptcy, perhaps this article will help you shed some light on the possible truth behind the low price.  Also, you can use the information to educate your staff and your clients who may ask you about these ads.

Be sure to pick up your free tools from Chapter 7 and 13 Training.Com at:

http://chapter7and13training.com/ Click on FREE TOOLS along left side of page

The Importance of the Right Type of Appraisal When Filing Bankruptcy

— by Victoria Ring

An attorney in Florida called me today to discuss his clients case. An appraisal had been done eight months ago by a real estate agent for $175,000. However, the debtors only owed $161,000 to the first mortgage company and $12,000 to the second for a total of $173,000. The attorney originally filed a Motion to Strip the second lien so that the debtors could afford to keep their home in a Chapter 13.

However, this decision created a major problem: The home was NOT underwater. In other words, the debtors actually had equity in their home since the appraisal came in at $175,000 and the debtors only owed a total of $173,000.

This fact alone made the home ineligible for a cramdown or strip. These are normally only successfully proposed and confirmed if there is NO EQUITY. In fact, the true value of the home (which needs to be less than what is owed) is the basis of the argument for the debtor attorney. Without that basis, the mortgage company will always file a Motion for Relief from Stay.

The Florida attorney was considering allowing the case to be dismissed and refile as a Chapter 7. Unfortunately, this solution would have caused the debtors to lose their home due to the fact that they were several months behind in their second mortgage.

The Solution

Since the amount owed cannot be changed, the answer is to review the amount of the appraisal.  We found there were two things wrong with it:

1.  Age of the Appraisal

The appraisal was already 8 months old. With the real estate market changing almost on a daily basis, it would be wise to get a new appraisal and present this as the actual market value of the home, especially if the amount came in lower than $175,000.

2.  The Type of Appraisal

Just like you list the yard sale or pawn shop value on a bankruptcy petition for personal property; there are two different types of appraisals for real property.

The first type of appraisal is a real estate appraisal, which is the most common. Because attorneys do not normally educate their debtors about the two different types, most debtors will call the real estate agent in their area. They never tell them they are filing bankruptcy so the appraiser determines a value as if the clients were reselling their property. This price almost always includes a six-percent padding for the commission of the real estate agent. Therefore, a standard real estate appraisal is often higher than the true market value.

As we know, the bankruptcy court can only liquidate real and personal property for the market value, not the real estate or replacement value. In fact, the court normally gets less than the market value, which is then turned over to the creditors for distribution and the debtors lose the asset.

The second type of appraisal is often called a DRIVE BY appraisal. These types of appraisals are often less expensive because the appraiser normally never enters the home. When an appraiser knows the appraisal is for a bankruptcy filing, he or she will compare the comps in the neighborhood a determine a more true market value without all the commission money padding.

Attorneys Should Team with Area Appraisers

One of the most useful tools a bankruptcy attorney can have is to know several good appraisers in their area.  These appraisers should know the difference between a standard real estate appraisal and a market value appraisal. Then, attorneys can provide their clients with a list of these appraisers to obtain a true market value of their home plus save their clients some money compared to a full real estate appraisal.

The Moral of the Story

Although you cannot rely 100-percent on Zillow, the attorney and I were able to determine that the home listed for $162,000. This tells us that the $175,000 appraisal done 8 months ago is probably incorrect. The Florida attorney obtained a new appraisal and hopefully will be able to get the Chapter 13 Plan confirmed so that the debtors can stay in their home.

Notice how one simple adjustment changed the lives of the debtors. It is often the little things that matter the most; so I hope this article helps to save the homes of many debtors by attorneys advising their clients to obtain the correct type of appraisal for a bankruptcy filing.

Resources

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Online School http://mybankruptcyschool.com

Testimonials From Students http://mybankruptcyschool.com/testimonials

Assistance With Marketing and Other Training http://www.victoria-ring.com

Contact the Author: Victoria Ring Phone: 719-375-1504 Email: victoriaring1958@gmail.com

New Schedule I Training Videos

When I first developed My Bankruptcy School, I developed it to be interactive.  The first 30 days of classes were conducted via web seminars and we recorded them for students to listen to after class.

Unfortunately, web seminars still demand planning by both the instructor and the student.  We found that using web seminars to hold training sessions were ineffective in the student’s retention of information.  This was caused by interruptions from class members, inability to attend class on time, etc.

However, when we produced a training video that a student could login, watch any time they wanted and as many times as they wanted, the student absorbed the information faster and with much more depth and understanding.

As soon as my team helped me make this analysis I got busy producing training videos.  This weekend I finished the Schedule I series of the bankruptcy petition; which consists of 8 videos totaling 52 minutes of instruction.

The eight video titles are:

1.  Introduction and Due Diligence 2.  Dependents and Employment 3.  Paycheck Stubs Analysis No. 1 4.  Paycheck Stubs Analysis No. 2 5.  Other Types of Pay Advices 6.  Pay Advices for the Self-Employed 7.  Proper Placement on Schedule I 8.  Other Income and Anticipated Changes

How to view the videos:

Due to the quality and high value of these videos we cannot offer them free. They are only available to students of My Bankruptcy School.  But you can check them out (as well as the rest of the school) for 5 days for only $49.99.  For more information or to enroll, visit http://www.mybankruptcyschool.com

Victoria Ring Developer of My Bankruptcy School Phone: 719-783-3797

Believe it Or Not – The Bankruptcy Trustee Could Be Wrong

Many of the attorneys that we prepare petitions for are shocked when they go to their 341 Meeting and receive a list of Trustee Recommendations.  Because we provide paralegal services to our attorneys through confirmation of the plan or discharge of the Chapter 7 they will call us back to review the issues addressed by the Trustee, sometimes thinking that the petition could have been prepared wrong.

While we are quick to fix any problems that may have been caused through our error, some attorneys who are new to the industry become nervous because they do not understand how to solve the issue and dispute the Trustee. In fact, many automatically assume that just because the Trustee made a recommendation, they must abide by it and make the change.  This is simply NOT true.  First of all, a Trustee is NOT required to be an attorney to be hired for the position, so there is a possibility that the Trustee (whether he or she is an attorney or not) can make a mistake.

Here is one example of an error a Trustee recently made that we disputed:

We prepared a Chapter 7 for an Ohio attorney.  When the attorney went to court the Trustee objected to the use of the exemption allowance of $800 for the security deposit.  We used Ohio Revised Code Annotated Section 2329.66(A)(18) on Schedule C but the Trustee said we needed to use Section 2329.66 (A)(3) instead, which provided for no exemption allowance.

Now, if this would have been handled by a non-seasoned attorney, the attorney may have made the change which would have resulted in the debtor paying $800 out of their pocket.

But we were determined to protect the debtor as much as possible.  I personally looked up Section 2329.66 (A)(3) and read it.  This code ONLY referred to a security deposit that would have been received within 90 days of the filing of the petition.  A quick cross-reference showed me that the debtor’s lease on their apartment would not expire within the 90 day guidelines set forth by this code. Therefore the debtor’s were eligible to use Section 2329.66(A)(18) as we had originally filed with the petition.  This saved the debtor $800 and the attorney learned a very valuable skill in protecting his debtors.

Another Example

We had a case where the Trustee demanded an additional $1,500 be paid per year from the proceeds of the tax refund check and he wanted this money placed inside the Chapter 13 Plan.  Unfortunately, the debtor had lost his income and would not qualify for a tax refund this year and therefore could not pay the $1,500.

Rather than change the Plan and comply with the Trustee’s unreasonable request, we contacted the tax preparer and asked them to fax us a letter stating the debtor would  not be receiving a refund check.  We then faxed this to the Trustee and the Trustee withdrew his recommendation.  This saved the debtor $1,500 and the attorney learned a very valuable lesson in protecting his debtors also.

Summary

Attorneys always have the ability to dispute and question any Trustee Recommendations that are made.  However, attorneys must also have enough knowledge of the bankruptcy law to protect their debtors and not allow the Trustee to take more than is permitted.

However, because many attorneys have jumped into the field of bankruptcy with no prior knowledge, and with the pre-conceived notion that bankruptcy is a quick and easy way to make money; problems like these are happening at alarming rates.  I strongly urge any attorney who fits this scenario to obtain training to protect your debtor or you are doing them a great injustice.   Two resources I suggest you consider are:

Excellent Books for Attorneys: http://shop.consumerlaw.org/forlawyers.aspx

Online Petition Training http://mybankruptcyschool.com or, for specialized training, contact:

Colorado Bankruptcy Training Office: 719-659-0743

Some Time Saving, Profit Making Tips for Bankruptcy Law Firms

BEFORE OPENING YOUR PRACTICE

1.  If you have been practicing law in a civil or state court, make sure you comply with all the requirements in your jurisdiction to practice in front of a federal judge.

2.   Call your local bankruptcy court and find out the procedures for obtaining your ECF (electronic court filing) number. The procedures are different in every state.

3.  Download a free set of (1) Client Intake Forms; and the (2) Bankruptcy Attorney Retainer Agreement at: http://www.bankruptcylinks.info/about/free-supplies

4.   Read and purchase the highly recommended Nolo book (written by attorneys) titled: “Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice” at: http://shop.consumerlaw.org/forlawyers.aspx SEPARATING FOOT TRAFFIC

The perfect scenario would be to have a dedicated area for your bankruptcy practice if you practice other areas of law.  The main reason for doing this is to separate the consumer clients from your business clients.  The average family filing bankruptcy has a completely different focus compared to the company president who is negotiating terms with an overseas supplier. If you do not separate the groups, meaning that the reception areas and interview rooms are not in the same area with your business clients, a tension will develop and harm your relationship with both client groups.

It is almost like going to the garage to have your car worked on and the mechanics also cooked your meals and had a full service restaurant while you waited. The two worlds do not go together and clients become uncomfortable; resulting in loss of profits for your law firm.

Establishing Private Interview Rooms

It is essential that the clients who are hiring your law firm to handle their bankruptcy (one of the most life changing events in their life) that they feel comfortable and respected. The only way to accomplish this is to talk to the clients in a private setting.  Some attorneys use their office for the meeting but it may be intimidating for clients to sit across from and attorney and talk to them. This scenario places the attorney in the controlling position and makes the client feel intimidated.  However, placing the clients in a private room, allowing them 5 or 10 minutes to become comfortable and having the attorney enter and sit down to talk with them on a friendly basis, places the client in the superior position and creates more openness and willingness to cooperate and answer the questions in more detail.

One idea that worked really well

In 2005 and 2006, I helped attorneys establish 72 different law firms throughout the United States. This experience gave me the ability to watch a variety of different scenarios play out and determine which set-ups were the most successful.  The set of operational procedures that consistency worked every time was the following:

1.  Clients initially calls the office.  The person answering the phone would determine if the clients was in an emergency situation (such as a foreclosure, etc.)  If so, they were asked to set up an appointment immediately.  But if the client was not in an emergency situation and was indecisive, the person answering the phone emailed them a set of Initial Intake Forms (4 pages) which you can purchase at: http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/initial-intake

2. Once the forms were returned to the attorney, the attorney uses the answers to determine if he or she is going to take the case. If so, the clients were called and an appointment was set.

3. When the clients come to the law firm for their appointment, they meet the attorney in person for at least 5 minutes. This establishes trust, plus the attorney needs to be present to explain the Retainer Agreement and collect the retainer fee.  Many attorneys ask for $500 initially to start the case with $299 or $274 paying the filing fee.

Note: During this consultation is where attorneys must learn how to market and sell their services. This is an area where I personally work with attorneys because they are not taught marketing skills in law school.  If you are an attorney interested in this service, call me (Victoria Ring) at 719-659-0743 and we will schedule an appointment. The training can easily be done by telephone and normally takes less than 1 hour (a cost of only about $125.)

4. Once the Retainer Agreement is signed and the down payment collected, the clients are placed in an area where they will watch all the Bankruptcy Basics Video Set provided free from the US Courts website at: http://www.uscourts.gov/video/bankruptcybasics/bankruptcyBasics.html

These videos can be downloaded (copy and paste the link to your law firm web page) and played on a laptop for your clients to watch in the office or from the clients home computer.  It is essential that the clients watch these videos before filling out the 30-page Client Intake Form package that you downloaded at http://www.bankruptcylinks.info/about/free-supplies because it cuts your interview time by 70% or more.  This is due to the fact that by watching the Bankruptcy Basics Video Set, all their initial questions are answered and you do not need to spend time repeating yourself and answering the same questions over and over.

5. Next, give your clients the 30-page set of Client Intake Forms to fill out. Make sure they understand the importance of reading the instructions that are provided so they will understand how to properly complete the forms; also saving you preparation time as well as accuracy of information.

Some attorneys prefer that their clients complete the forms in their office. They provide their clients with a private room, offer them snacks and something to drink, then leave them for 30-45 minutes to fill out the forms.  This accelerates the process and prevents the downtime of waiting on clients to go home, complete the forms and return them to the office.

After the forms are completed and before the clients leave the office, the attorney (or a staff member who is knowledgeable of petition preparation and the reason why specific information is needed) will sit down with the clients. They will go through each page of the forms and when a blank area is encountered, they can obtain the information right at that time from the clients while the information is fresh on their minds. This also helps to save time and money for the law firm.  In addition this procedure also save preparation time as well as accuracy of information.

VERY IMPORTANT: AVOID THIS

Due to the rapid growth of the bankruptcy industry, many new attorneys have entered this field of practice who have not been properly trained. Some of them have been told by attorneys (from previous generations) that debtor bankruptcy is nothing more than filling out forms. But when the attorneys get their first case, they encounter many problems and some are actually sanctioned for the poor quality of service they provide.

Rather than risk all this drama, doesnt it make more logical sense to take a moment now and obtain the training you need so that your law firm is more financially stable and the services you provide are worth the money the clients pay you?  If you agree, then I strongly urge you to always:

1.  Meet with your client the first day they come in for an appointment; 2.  Send them periodic emails to let them know you are working on their case; and 3.  ALWAYS make sure you attend the 341 Meeting and DO NOT use a substitute.

One of the biggest mistakes a law firm can make is to hire another attorney to attend the 341 Meeting to represent their clients.  The only acceptable method of doing so would be if the clients are introduced to the alternate attorney and they actually hold a conversation with him or her. After the conversation, the clients should be the only people who give their permission to accept the alternate. Anything less is not being respectful to your clients who paid their hard earned money to have you represent them.

Attorneys who simply collect the money and have other attorneys attend their 341 Meetings creates havoc for the client.  Imagine this: The clients are embarrassed about their financial situation. They are terrified and very nervous when they go to court.  When they arrive, they do not see their attorney. The client’s panic.  Suddenly, an attorney they have never met, taps them on the shoulder and tells them he or she is representing them at the hearing. The clients are totally confused. They have never met this person and the confidentiality they thought they shared with the attorney they hired has been breached from their point of view.

HELP FOR YOUR LAW FIRM

Are you an attorney who needs to reduce the drama in your law firm and increase your profits? My fee is only $125 per hour; so for about $125, we can have a phone consultation and I will help to prepare a set of procedures for your specific law firm based upon your needs and goals. In fact, after our conversation, I will put together a Procedures Manual (based upon our discussion) at your request.

Other consultants charge thousands for this service, but due to my low overhead you can save money and receive the same services I used to provide to law firms when I was traveling around the country. Still skeptical? Call some of our attorney references at:  http://www.bankruptcylinks.info/about/attorney-references

To set up your consulting appointment call 719-659-0743 or email victoriaring1958@gmail.com

Board Certified Bankruptcy Attorney Endorses My Bankruptcy School

Board Certified Bankruptcy Attorney Richard West of West, Hurley and Malkiewicz in Springboro, Ohio, sent us the following feedback after reviewing My Bankruptcy School training videos for Class 1:

Dear Victoria:

I liked your Class 1 bankruptcy training videos.  I would endorse them for new attorneys, or attorneys who are new to bankruptcy, as a tool to get some practical advice on nuts and bolts of the practice.

The next step would be to do some videos on common mistakes made in preparing the petition, schedules, etc. Actually, Judge Stephen Rhoads (Michigan) did a study on that topic. I heard him speak on it as he was conducting the study, that was back in 05 or 06, I think, he was speaking in Dayton, and he noted that almost all petitions have some errors.  Some minor, some not.  A review of the schedules and forms would be a good thing to do.

One idea you might pass along would be to ask the trustees who they think consistently does a good job on petitions, and then call that attorney and see if he would give the name of a client he has that has a representative case.  The new attorney could download the petition from pacer and have an example of a petition, done by a good practitioner, and well received by trustees.  That way the form of presenting the data can be mimicked by the new attorney.  And, the experienced attorney won’t have to do anything but give a name.  As you point out, good practitioners are busy.  But if a newbie asked me that question, I would be willing to do it.  Actually, I routinely answer bk questions for other attorneys.  The old-timers did it for me, and I am now one of them, I do it for the new attorneys.

Also, if you formed a group of experienced (board certified like I am or not) attorneys – you could call the group whatever you wanted – who would endorse the training you could get additional credibility – like a testimonial.  And, those attorneys who were willing to do that could appear on the site, in a bio format, with links back to our websites, and we could link to you, and to each other, and form a kind of link-wheel, thereby benefiting all of us.

Rick West, Esq.

For more information about My Bankruptcy School visit: http://www.mybankruptcyschool.com

To visit the website of Attorney Richard West, visit: http://www.debtfreeohio.com

Advantages to Renting -vs- Owning in Today’s World

Problem: A debtor cannot afford their mortgage payments but is unwilling to give up their home.

Suggestion: Often, the reason for this behavior is because the debtor believes they are living the American Dream (by being a homeowner) and if they give up their home, they will lose their status and their dream.

One way to help them face reality is to give them a copy of the article below.  CLICK HERE to download the PDF so you can print it own and provide to your clients who need this information.

Also see:  http://www.businessinsider.com/15-signs-that-the-us-housing-market-is-headed-for-complete-and-total-collapse-2010-8

Are You Losing Your Home to Foreclosure? Things may not be as bad as you think

Less than a decade ago it was the American Dream to own your own home.  However, back then, no one heard much about owing more money on a home that it was appraised at.  Home values back then appreciated, not depreciated like they do today.  Therefore, the new American Dream has changed to “rent and save money.”

Warren Buffet, the financial advisor and billionaire, recommends renting.  In his biography entitled “The Snowball,” it states:

“Warren rented because he didn’t want to tie up his money in a house at that time, after all, he needed to live off of the interest on the stocks he owned.  This was highly unusual at the time, especially considering that even at 26, he would have been considered rich by most standards. So all of you renters out there that claim your way is the best… you might be right, especially if you have investing skills like Warren did.”

With this thought in mind, let’s uncover four popular myths surrounding buying a home:

Myth #1:  Renting an apartment is like throwing your money away

Renters pay for one thing every month: shelter.  Renters also pay a reduced rate based on national statistics.  Some could argue that homeowners throw their money away for the first five years they own a home because they simply give money to the bank for the privilege of borrowing money.  Many buyers in the past 5 years have seen little or no appreciation and in fact, the opposite has occurred.  Renters on the other hand do not pay interest to a mortgage company, do not pay property taxes and do not pay maintenance fees.  Renters simply pay r-e-n-t.

Myth #2:  It Costs the Same to Buy as it does to Rent

Examine what it costs to first buy a home.  The average buyer pays a minimum of 5% of the purchase price of the house to close the loan.  On a home that costs $150,000, that amount is $7,500. A renter generally pays the first month’s rent, last month’s rent and possibly a security deposit.  On a rental that rents for $1,000 a month, that total is $3,000.  The renter is already $1,500 ahead of the buyer.

There are also other costs a buyer is responsible for that a renter is not.  There is mortgage interest, property tax, insurance and maintenance.  These costs can add up and may even increase significantly over a period of years.  In addition, buyers are responsible for maintenance and repairs that could cost them thousands of dollars a year.

Myth #3:  Houses are a Good Investment

In the past 12 months there have been a record number of foreclosures in many states across the U.S with a high concentration in Florida and California.  This record-setting trend could possibly continue for some time into the future.  During the housing boom, many buyers believed that housing was a great investment.  For many it was.  But the boom turned to bust for millions.  No one at this point can foresee the future t o predict what will happen to the housing market.  However, by renting, you will not be at the mercy of the economy.

Myth #4:  There are Income Tax Benefits When You Pay Mortgage Payments

Mortgage interest can only be deducted from taxable income.  What this means is that for every dollar you spend on interest, you save about 28 cents.  Most buyers are going to pay more money for the principal, interest, taxes and insurance than they would for rent.  You can calculate the amount of money you can save with your taxes and then determine if this myth is fact or fiction.

Summary

There may be a time when it is better to buy a home than it is to rent but today is not that time.  However, if you can get a great deal on a home or a foreclosed piece of property, you should always take that into consideration regarding your decision to purchase rather than rent.  Until the economy returns to where it was, there are a lot of banks and mortgage companies willing to accept your money every month.