Special Capabilities Required of Attorneys for Bankruptcy Work

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State of the Art Technologies 

Software and Data Handling

                                                ©Michael Worthington dba Interactive Law Center 2009

In order to properly prepare and present a bankruptcy case in compliance with constantly changing forms and requirements, there is no substitute for capable professional assistance. Here are some things to look for when interviewing attorneys to handle your bankruptcy matter:

 Ask About Software:  There are several choices of software to facilitate preparation of the documents that are required by the US Bankruptcy courts.  Our office has selected Best Case™ software which makes it possible to calculate, change things and recalculate with ease, provides frequent updates to incorporate new rules and/or form changes and works seamlessly with the court’s electronic filing system.  With a single click the multitude of forms that constitute an initial filing are compiled, the local computer automatically logs in to the court’s filing facility and transfers the documents.  If anything is missing or in the wrong format, the error is caught by the software.  When the filing is complete, the software also takes the operator through the steps to pay the fee with a credit card.  Updates to incorporate new rules and/or form changes are issued promptly on an ongoing basis.  In sum, it is not feasible to perform quality bankruptcy services without proper software support.

Electronic Filing:  The US Bankruptcy Courts have mandated use of their  “Electronic Court Filing” (ECF) system. In the Central District of California this requirement applies to attorneys submitting more than five (5) cases per year.   In order to qualify for access, attorneys must undergo training and pass a test demonstrating their proficiency.   This system allows access for court filings 24/7 and automatically generates e-mail notices to case participants of subsequent filings. 

PACER:  Another innovation in federal courts, which includes the bankruptcy courts, is PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) which works in tandem with ECF.  Attorneys who have an ECF log-on are  required to obtain PACER registration as part of their qualification.  Members of the public may access the PACER system for free after registering.  This is the federal judiciary’s centralized registration, billing and technical support center for electronic access to all court records.  The e-mail notices that the court sends to all registered parties as notice of filings contain a link that takes the user to the document itself, which is in Adobe format for easy printing and download.  The first time access is free.  Thereafter, all documents are preserved in electronic format for access at any time via a docket that lists the contents of the court file in chronological order.   Subsequent printing or download is a modest $.08 per page.   Moreover, PACER produces the case docket for any federal matter on demand, permitting a search of all filings and instantaneous document retrieval. 

Why Hire an Attorney?  Of course any individual has access to the courts and can present a case without an attorney.  On the other hand, corporations and other entities must have an attorney.   The savings from doing without counsel, taken in relation to the lost efficiencies, makes this a dubious value proposition.  Of even more importance is the fact that experienced bankruptcy attorneys have the ability to help clients avoid the many pitfalls that exist in handling a bankruptcy matter.  These must be negotiated adroitly or there can be substantial losses, far in excess of the cost of attorney representation .

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