In 2006, I graduated from New York Law School owing a large amount of student loans and a small amount of credit card debt. My student loans for law school were exempt from any relief that declaring bankruptcy would provide, and I didn’t owe enough on my credit cards to qualify for bankruptcy either. I spent too many years paying off my debt while having a low credit score. I’ve been there – I’ve done it myself.
My start in law was in a small, two-partner law firm that focused on criminal defense, divorce, civil litigation, and bankruptcy.
In the beginning, I spent more time working on criminal defense and divorce cases, which I found emotionally draining. Very few clients ever get exactly what they want in these types of cases. Even when the outcome is good, clients still have to compromise. Later, I worked in civil litigation. While it was more interesting and less emotionally draining, many times clients still had to compromise, giving up something in order to avoid risk.
Partly due to my own relationship with debt, I’ve found my experience working in consumer bankruptcy more rewarding.
In the majority of cases, I’m able to tell my clients whether they qualify for relief under the bankruptcy codes; if they will be able to get a discharge under Chapter 7; or what they will have to do to get a discharge under Chapter 7 or 13.
They may need to compromise sometimes. But in many cases, they are able to obtain a fresh start. My expert assessment provides stability for my clients so that they know exactly what to expect from the process, what they want to achieve, and what they will need to do to achieve that.
This book is for people who are having serious trouble with their creditors. It will outline the Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy process for them as well as bankruptcy alternatives that can work for anyone.
Common Stigmas And Misconceptions Surrounding Bankruptcy And Lessening The Fear Of Filing For Bankruptcy
Under U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 8, bankruptcy is a fundamental right for every U.S. citizen and non-citizen living within the country. Even so, some people come into my office embarrassed to talk about it – like it’s a crime. Such fear has no basis in fact. While a bankruptcy filing will appear on your credit report for 10 years, a judgment taken by a creditor is on your credit report for 20 years – unless discharged in bankruptcy.
Let’s talk about an old client of mine, “Emily”. Her case represents the concerns that many of my clients face.
While in college, Emily fell behind in paying rent and utilities. After the local restaurant closed its doors where she worked as wait staff, she relied on her credit cards for living expenses. It didn’t help that her three roommates bailed on her when her college transitioned all classes online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And the worst part? Her name was on the lease, not theirs.
Thus, after the rent moratorium was lifted and she did not make arrangements to pay back the rent owed, the apartment complex sued her for non-payment of lease payments. As if that wasn’t enough, her long-departed roommates had cranked up the A/C one long sweltering weekend when she had gone home for a visit, resulting in a whopping bill. Additionally, Emily had incurred credit card debt that had ballooned in her final year of college.
Again, the utilities were in her name. After graduating from college, Emily was fearful that declaring bankruptcy would affect her ability to land a decent full-time job in her field and to be able to convince a landlord to rent her that first apartment by herself. But Emily’s fears were unfounded.
When Emily came in for her free consultation, she had a credit score of below 600 as well as the apartment and electric company had filed a judgment against her.
We immediately knew a Chapter 7 bankruptcy would resolve her credit history and judgments in the quickest way possible. We also let her know that many landlords were more willing to rent to someone who had declared bankruptcy than someone drowning in a lot of debt and at risk of filing for bankruptcy.
After helping her with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, we discussed her ability to improve her credit score within two years. (I will detail this later.)
Another case example is my client “Austin”. He was under contract with a truck manufacturing company that had a Termination Upon Bankruptcy clause, meaning his filing for bankruptcy was grounds for termination of his employment.
After confronting the reality that his debts were beyond his means to repay, he came in for his free consultation.
In our initial discussion, Austin’s expertise as a diesel engine mechanic and designer was evident. Thus, it was not in his company’s best interest to fire him as he was a productive employee—especially these days with companies beating the bushes for competent workers.
Instead, taking care of his bad credit was the responsible thing for Austin to do.
He could have waited until his creditors got judgments against him – in which his company would be required to garnish his wages. But his decision to file for bankruptcy allowed him to give his company a heads up about what he was doing and why.
Whether bankruptcy might have an impact on your career is something to discuss with your attorney. And it’s important to keep in mind, certain professionals will need to take extra steps to remain in compliance during a bankruptcy – especially if you are a licensed stockbroker or are self-employed.
For more information on Bankruptcy Law in New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (516) 550-5467.