Friday, July 15, 2011

This month my firm was exclusively interviewed on the NJ Law Network site. Check it out!

NJLB:  You’ve been practicing bankruptcy law in NJ for 15 years now. Have the laws become more complex during that time?

LMP:  Many lawyers have decided to specialize after the law changed in 2005. Because filing now requires involved means testing formulas and since new cases interpreting the new law are being decided almost daily, yes,  the area has become much more complex. In many cases a matter may appear to be simple, but overlooking something could result in your case being dismissed or not being granted discharge, the result everyone desires!

NJLB:  I know some bankruptcy firms dig deep to investigate creditors for any bankruptcy violations. Is this something your firm does?

LMP:  We are always on the look out for creditors violating the law. This can come in many forms. For example, creditors may improperly seek to be paid in bankruptcy court by attaching defective forms or documents that do not meet the requirements of the rules. As a debtor you are expected to take an oath to disclose all of your assets, liabilities and income; likewise creditors must follow the rules relating to how they can and should collect their potential claims.

NJLB:  I would imagine that embarrassment is one of the highest concerns a person facing bankruptcy has. How do you protect your clients from this fear?

LMP:  The concept of bankruptcy is  biblical, the roots of a fresh start can be traced back to the Old Testament. Everyone is entitled to some breathing room and a chance to reorganize. I tell clients that seeking relief from a bank levy or wage garnishment is usually more responsible than hiding and hoping for the best.  At the point the creditor levies or takes a portion or your pay check, you lose control and often the ability to provide for your family. I urge my clients to carefully consider which is the more responsible course of action.

NJLB:  Should a bankruptcy lawyer let clients know how this will affect their credit – pre and post bankruptcy?

LMP:  Look, the ability to get credit is important. But the impact of the filing sometimes is not worse than the client’s present credit score. We help clients understand what the impact will be post filing and after your discharge. There are specific steps we help clients with, including reviewing all 3 credit reports, post discharge, for accuracy and possible FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) violations.

NJLB:  Do you educate your clients on how their daily lives will be affected after bankruptcy?

LMP:  I try to ask clients to truly consider what debt issue is giving them the most discomfort when they see me. I regularly see clients who have become physically sick from creditor phone calls and letters. These clients want to pay their bills, but truly are without an ability to do so. Sometimes they can only pay one bill, so when all the bills are collectively added it becomes insurmountable and overwhelming. So I try to have clients imagine a meal without a creditor call or interruption; or a day without a collection letter; or the comfort they may have in knowing that their paycheck is safe from garnishment. We also make every effort to make sure clients are not subjected to creditor harassment, in the form of phone calls or letters as soon as clients retain our firm.

Lee M. Perlman, Esquire