Bankruptcy Lawyers

NACBA25 Highlight

Having confidence that you’re going to get paid eventually is one thing, but there is no denying that paying for the costs of discovery in advance can be a real burden for consumer bankruptcy lawyers. This session will focus on learning how to distinguish between what discovery expenses are absolutely necessary. It will also address acceptable shortcuts / alternative means of evidence gathering that can go a long way in making the difference between the dream of adding the excitement and income from litigation to your consumer bankruptcy practice and making it a reality.

Meet Your Presenters

Thad Bartholow

avatar for Thad Bartholow

Thad Bartholow is a partner with the Dallas, Texas law firm of Armstrong Kellett Bartholow P.C.  In addition to consumer bankruptcy, Mr. Bartholow’s practice focuses on individual and class-action litigation on behalf of consumer debtors in state, federal, and bankruptcy courts.  He has spoken at local, regional and national conferences regarding issues related to consumer bankruptcy and consumer litigation, and Mr. Bartholow has obtained several favorable written opinions on issues related to objections to proofs of claims and creditors’ standing / status as a real party in interest with authority to participate in bankruptcy proceedings.  Mr. Bartholow is a member of NACBA, NACA, and a graduate of Max Gardner’s Bankruptcy Boot Camp.

Philip Zuzolo

Since 2007 Philip Zuzolo has been practicing consumer law in Northeast Ohio, concentrating on litigation involving the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act in both the state and federal courts.  Attorney Zuzolo has also focused a great deal of his practice on litigating cases against creditors in the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Attorney Zuzolo received a Bachelor of Arts from John Carroll University and his juris doctorate from The University of Akron School of Law.  Prior to law school, Attorney Zuzolo served in the United States Army and attained the rank of Captain.  He is admitted to the Ohio Supreme Court, the United States District Court for Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He is a member of the Trumbull County Bar Association, National Association of Consumer Lawyers, the Board of Directors for ETI Technical College, and is a member and Secretary for the Nathaniel R. Jones American Inn of Court.  Attorney Zuzolo is a 2008 graduate of Max Gardner’s boot camp.  In 2016, Attorney Zuzolo was awarded with the Trumbull County Volunteer Lawyer of the Year award, as well as the Special Recognition Award from the Trumbull County Bar Association for his volunteer work.

Moderator 

Rachel Foley

Rachel Foley began her bankruptcy career with the United Auto Workers representing GM and Ford employees in Chapter 13 and 7’s. Rachel was the only bankruptcy attorney for the Missouri auto workers and it was not unusual for her to manage 3 – 4 times the regular attorney caseload at any given time. This provided a vast array of case scenarios, experience and knowledge that Rachel continues to pull from today. Where ever the client was located, the Union ensured the auto worker would have representation, including but not limited to being incarcerated in Leavenworth Federal Prison. Where ever that client was located, Rachel made sure they received the very best level of bankruptcy representation.

In addition to her training through the UAW, Rachel’s background as a Risk Manager for Clarkson Regional Health Center and 20 years’ experience in the emergency room as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, makes her uniquely qualified to argue a variety of cases. Rachel has been recognized for her constant commitment to the representation of debtors. Rachel is the inaugural winner of the K. Colleen Nunnelly Award by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and recognized by her peers as being the Best of the Kansas City Bar in the area of bankruptcy. These recognitions are in addition to being named to the Pro Bono Wall of Fame by the Missouri Bar Association.

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2016 Virtual Bankruptcy Workshop Session Highlight

2016-virtual

Friday, December 9th

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM ET

Find a Treasure Trove of Consumer Law Violations in your Bankruptcy Treasure Chest: Fair Debt, Credit Reporting, Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Booty awaits!

Presented by: Cary Flitter, Esq.

Consumer law violations are common problems for debtors and can be filed in bankruptcy court or district court. Most provide statutory attorney fees. Philadelphia consumer lawyer Cary Flitter will help you to triage your cases.

About Our Presenter:

avatar for Cary Flitter

Cary L. Flitter

Cary L. Flitter practices consumer law with Flitter Milz, P.C. located in suburban Philadelphia and New Jersey. Cary serves on the adjunct faculty at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia and Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware, where he teaches Consumer Law and Litigation including Fair Credit Reporting, Fair Debt Collection, and class action. He has guest lectured on consumer law issues at Harvard Law School, The University of Pennsylvania Law School, and other venues. Flitter is a contributing author to Pennsylvania Consumer Law by Bisel Publishing Co. This is the leading treatise in Pennsylvania on consumer law. He is also a contributor to Consumer Class Actions 5th Ed. by the National Consumer Law Center. Cary was invited by the Federal Trade Commission to participate in workshops on Collection of Consumer Debt. Cary’s consumer cases in the Court of Appeals include Brown v. Card Service Center, 464 F.3d 450 (3d Cir. 2006) (seminal circuit case on deception under FDCPA); Rosenau v. Unifund, 539 F.3d 218 (3d Cir. 2008) (successful challenge to phony “legal department” in dunning letter); Cappuccio v. Prime Capital, 549 F.3d 180 (3d Cir. 2011) (first impression holding that borrower’s testimony alone may be sufficient to rebut presumption of receipt of TILA disclosures); Gager v. Dell Fin. Serv., LLC, 727 F.3d 265 (3d Cir. 2013) (holding, in first impression, that consent to receive cellphone calls is revocable under Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and Douglass v. Convergent Outsourcing, 765 F.3d 299 (3d Cir. 2014) (holding, in first impression, that placing the consumer’s account number on collection envelope violates privacy provisions of FDCPA) Cary is the recipient of multiple pro bono awards for his work on behalf of low-income consumers and serves as the 2016 Co-Chair of the Federal Courts committee of the Montgomery (County, Pa.) Bar Association.

Register Today!

#NACBASEA Spotlight with Richard H. Nemeth and Paul Maschmeyer

Dry Docking Aggressive Trustees: Getting the Overreaching Chapter 7 Trustee Out of the Water and Onto the Shore!
Saturday, October 8th 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Are your clients being subject to out of line requests and turnover actions by overbearing Trustees? Richard Nemeth and Paul Maschmeyer will discuss methods of dealing with these actions including responding to information requests, use of extensions of time to object to requests by the Trustee and how to use the political system to help your client.
 Learn how to defend turnover of mass tort awards and college tuition fraudulent conveyance litigation, and how to exclude inherited IRA from property of the estate (In re Clark).  Stop requests to turn over convenience accounts and use secured creditor carve outs to help your client, not hurt them, and much more.
Presenters:
avatar for Richard H Nemeth (Hal)
Richard H. Nemeth (Hal)
Mr. Nemeth is a consumer and small business bankruptcy practitioner and litigator in Cleveland, Ohio and the ND Ohio state chair for NACBA.  He has been practicing bankruptcy law in Cleveland for over 25 years.In July, 2008, Mr. Nemeth was named NACBA Member of the Month for spearheading a successful effort to get the Ohio legislature to adopt a new and far more consumer-friendly exemption statute.  Mr. Nemeth is a frequent speaker at local, regional and national continuing legal education seminars, and is often asked by reporters to comment on consumer issues for local and national media publications.  He has been involved in a considerable amount of consumer litigation, representing borrowers against lenders, mortgage brokers, servicers, collection agencies and their law firms in stay and discharge violation, breach, fraud, civil conspiracy, truth-in-lending, RESPA, FDCPA and other matters in which he has won substantial awards for his clients.  Mr. Nemeth is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
avatar for Paul Maschmeyer
Paul Maschmeyer
Mr. Maschmeyer is a Shareholder/Director of Maschmeyer Karalis P.C. This firm limits its practice to Bankruptcy, Corporate, Corporate Reorganization, Litigation, Insolvency,Creditors’ Rights and Real Estate Law. Mr. Maschmeyer has represented trustees in many bankruptcy liquidations, official creditors’ committees and debtors in numerous Chapter 11 reorganizations.Mr. Maschmeyer is a member of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Bar Associations, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Conference, the American Bankruptcy Institute and the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project.In addition to holding an AV® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, Mr. Maschmeyer is certified as a Business Bankruptcy Law Specialist by the American Bankruptcy Board of Certification and an author of Colliers Handbook for Trustees and Debtors-in- Possession. He is recognized by Philadelphia Magazine as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer in the practice area of Bankruptcy and Creditor/Debtor Rights.

Why Would A Lawyer Choose Consumer Bankruptcy?

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I had my fees cut last week in a small Chapter 13 case.  The cut ($500) wasn’t large in absolute terms. But the wound is deep and will continue to bleed into my attitude about what I do as a professional. To borrow a phrase from my kids, I feel profoundly disrespected.The case, filed by another lawyer, had been targeted for dismissal.  It had lingered unconfirmed for many, many months and the initial attorney was leaving bankruptcy practice. Unlike many bankruptcy lawyers, I’m willing to come into a case mid stream and try to salvage a bad situation.  I hate to see clients take a hit traceable to poor representation. In this case, I subbed in, found some mistakes that, once corrected, allowed confirmation, and sought to be paid for the work. The result in the case was, I thought, was stellar.

Not so fast

The judge’s issue with my fee application was the relative size of fees incurred to prepare a separate, customized fee application, draft a notice, and appear at a hearing 15 miles from my office requiring travel during rush hour. The court has a “guideline” that the preparation of the fee application should cost no more than 5% of the fees sought.  That works if the fees are $10,000 or more.  The rule was probably crafted with Chapter 11 reorganization cases in mind. When the fees are a couple of thousand dollars, 5% becomes an impossibly small number relative to the tasks required.

And that’s the bitch here:  the Bankruptcy Code requires a written fee application, detailing the services provided, including contemporaneous time records, and an actual hearing, whether or not there is an objection. So, the work is mandated and the compensation is capped. And the cap doesn’t fit small consumer cases. This happens  yet in a world where the Bankruptcy Code of 1978 sought to compensate bankruptcy professionals at market rates, comparable to other specialists.  The Code sought to move away from the “bankruptcy lawyers as second class professionals” thinking that prevailed before the Code.

It ain’t easy

It is my view that most judges sorely underestimate the challenges of representing debt-ridden consumers.  The people challenges are as great or greater than the legal challenges. And, like this judge who acknowledged that the cut to my fees wasn’t fair, did it anyway. Most bankruptcy judges were never self employed, eating only what they killed, metaphorically.  Most never represented a below median income, English as a second language debtor.  And fewer ever stepped into a floundering consumer case and made it work.

What goes around

If the bankruptcy bench shrugs off the impact on capable debtor’s lawyers of underpaying counsel, judges will find the bar in their courtrooms filled with the indifferent and the incompetent. The wound to bankruptcy system will be self inflicted. I cannot recommend this specialty to any lawyer who has to be self supporting.

Author, Cathy Moran is a Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist, a Northern California chair for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and is on a mission to help lawyers become better bankruptcy practitioners.