In any legal representation, it’s important to maintain good communication between the lawyer and client. That doesn’t mean speaking every day, but it means keeping the client informed of any significant element of the case, getting informed consent, and providing sound legal advice to achieve the client’s goals. In fact, one of the most common complaints about lawyers to disciplinary groups is when lawyers stop returning calls and e-mails.
Most of our bankruptcy clients are looking for a fresh start in a Chapter 7 case or a reorganization in a Chapter 11, 12, or 13 bankruptcy. As bankruptcy counsel, we have the same duty that a creditor’s lawyer has to their client during the case: communicate.
With that in mind, we are constantly evaluating our systems to ensure that our clients get the premier service we expect to provide. Our clients are our main priority. We know that our clients meet with us (typically in person) to prepare bankruptcy schedules for filing. Once the paperwork is filed, the Bankruptcy Court mails out notice of the bankruptcy filing to the debtor (and creditors). We also communicate with our clients to advise on the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors and any documents to provide prior to that meeting.
We used to meet in person for that meeting. But during COVID-19, those meetings are by phone. So with few exceptions, we might not see our clients in-person again after their work-up appointment to prepare for a filing. We have to rely on the old-fashioned ways – phone, e-mail, letters – along with the new options of Zoom/Skype/WebEx video conferencing.
Our expectation is that every client will have a letter or e-mail explaining the outcome of the 341 Meeting and next steps, including payment of fees, the status of reaffirmations, and reminder about the personal financial management course (the second credit counseling course). Along with that, we have a standard communication for when a bankruptcy is discharged and debts are eliminated (typically after 90 days from filing in a Chapter 7 case) or a reorganization plan is confirmed – hopefully within a few months in a Chapter 11, 12, or 13.
If anything significant happens – the United States Trustee opens an inquiry, a standing trustee tries to dismiss a Chapter 13 case or deny confirmation of a plan, or a creditor moves for relief from the automatic stay in bankruptcy to try and come after our client’s property – we still have a duty to explain what that means and what to do.
Our clients pay for the value of our guidance and expertise. We communicate that guidance and expertise to our clients to make sure they know we are here every step of the way and that they know what is going on and what the next steps are. At WM Law, we are here for communication AND….here to help. Contact us today.