Bankruptcy Words, Words, Words


Everyone has a favorite word. For instance, my friend’s [1] fond of the adjective asinine. She does like to say that what others say is asinine, which isn’t to say that what others say is asinine; it is only to say the friend sees it that way. Anyway, I wish she would mix it up with words like inept and inane, fatuous and San Diego bankruptcy lawyer Asaph Abrams: on Words that Mattervacuous and in a pinch: whack, as in, yo, that’s whack.

The friend’s a physician and that’s a different sort of Homo sapien than I. In comparing bankruptcy attorney and physician, consider this: your bankruptcy lawyer will ask for production of financial records: tax returns, leave-and-earnings statements, vehicle registration, etcetera. Yet, your bankruptcy attorney assures that unlike the medical provider, the bankruptcy lawyer promises he isn’t prone to painfully prod and prick or worse: resort to repeat use of the word asinine. Dear Bankruptcy Attorney Blog Reader, rest assured: you are in the excellent and extraordinary company of counsel, attorney and advocate avowedly averse to the adjective asinine.

But even an attorney isn’t spared his tropes and verbal tics. Here are some phrases and words ripe for retiring, speech that bankruptcy attorneys (and lawyers who aren’t, alas, bankruptcy lawyers) may wish to curtail and spare the client from– lest what we lawyers say should become [as the Prince of Denmark put it in his titular play (Act 2, Scene 2)] so many bankruptcy “words, words, words,” bereft of matter.  San Diego bankruptcy attorney Asaph Abrams discusses Words with Friends (or Bankruptcy Attorney Blog Readers)

As to the meat of the matter of this bankruptcy lawyer blog, let us go.  Here are

Words we won’t opt to say unless we have to say:

1. “Reasonable”

Exhibit “1” for an attorney’s favorite word is: “reasonable.” Reasonable is akin to fine music to attorney ears. Save for a baby’s cooing or an I love you, nothing feels as good. It’s the ultimate qualifier. But used too often it’s an expression of ambivalence that undermines the client’s comfort level. Hence the bankruptcy attorney is compelled to avoid it. Unless…

Though it’s abused and misused, reasonable’s usage is sometimes apt. That would be the case wherein it’s a term of (bankruptcy) art. In bankruptcy (yes, it’s a bankruptcy blog!), “reasonable” comes to mean a certain thing in the context of bankruptcy expenses.

Often bankruptcy petitioners assume Chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibilitychapter 13 bankruptcy payments are adversely affected by higher-bracket income per se in and of itself.  Yet, income level isn’t determinative in bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibility and chapter 13 bankruptcy payments are a function of both income and (income-offsetting) expenses, which must be “reasonable” expenses.  The reasonableness of the bankruptcy petitioner’s expenses is assessed in the chapter 7 bankruptcy means test (a bankruptcy measure of one’s means to repay debt), the chapter 13 bankruptcy statement of current monthly income and Schedule J of the bankruptcy petition (which provides for projection of the bankruptcy filer’s expenses).

Call your San Diego bankruptcy lawyer for answers.  There is no maybe.
Meet Rae Jepsen. Photo Credit: Tabercil

2. Call me “Maybe?” Possibly….

“Maybe” is another culprit within the bankruptcy attorney wishy-washy lawyer lexicon, which we should seek shelter from.

If an answer can be ascertained, your bankruptcy attorney will deliver a definitive response. Because the bankruptcy client wants a  “yes” or a “no” and not a “maybe.” Because bankruptcy law is case-specific, by which I mean person-specific, your bankruptcy attorney will ascertain enough to render an informed and actual opinion.

But if one cannot conscionably answer “yes” or “no,” then one can at least choose the word “possibly” in lieu of “maybe.” See, “possibly,” suggests reflection, it carries more weight than merely “maybe,” it’s superior sounding in your bankruptcy lawyer’s mind.  Thus, So your bankruptcy attorney decrees: “possibly” is a lesser bankruptcy-evil than “maybe.”

San Diego bankruptcy attorney Asaph Abrams on possible uses of "possibly."
McGregor in 2009. Photo by Nicolas Genin.

An “important” important aside:

If “possibly” must be said, then as far as inflection goes, bear in mind: “possibly” invariably sounds better with a British or Kiwi accent. One knows this from one’s inner-child-compelled repeat-watching of the wordily-titled 2002 space opera, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” (Also, memory is abetted by compulsively-quoting geeks at the IMDb). This digitally-formatted film frequently favors the word “possibly.”

In “AOTC” (which stands for “Attack of the Clones,” in barely-conceivable case you don’t know), Scot thespian Ewan McGregor plays famed Jedi, Obi Wan Kenobi in his prime. McGregor neatly channels Alec Guinness’s charmed portrayal of the elder Obi Wan in the (succinctly titled) “Star Wars” (1977)].  Now, when Master Obi Wan must deliver a retort to his impudent trainee Anakin Skywalker (who petulantly wonders whether his master’s up to a task), Kenobi wryly says, “possibly.”   If only because Anakin’s unfettered hubris plunged the galaxy into an epoch of genocide and darkness, we wonder what if Obi Wan had better fettered Skywalker with a more conclusive comment than “possibly.”  Still, “possibly” does sound rather clever, especially with a British accent.  Or at the least, it’s preferable to maybe.

In a second instance of bankruptcy lawyer AOTC-reference, “possibly” is said by New Zealander, Temuera Morrison.  Morrison portrays Jango Fett (not to be confused with the more-recently fêted Django), [2] the father of Han Solo’s bête noire, Boba Fett. Fett, the elder is a bellicose bounty hunter who evades stalwart Obi Wan’s pointed questions with a Kiwi-accented “possibly.” [3]San Diego bankruptcy attorney Asaph Abrams on what's in a name?

In sum, appeal of “possibly” notwithstanding, if it needn’t be a bankruptcy maybe or a bankruptcy possibly, your bankruptcy lawyer will opt for “yes” or “no” as the individual’s bankruptcy case may be.

3. “Generally”

Alas, in life we want for certainty. There isn’t escape from exceptions. Hence, the inherent, well, generality of things compels frequent use of “generally,” an attorney classic. But “generally” is, well, generally unhelpful. The bankruptcy client wishes for an answer.

Now consider the notorious “bankruptcy mill,” a corporate entity, a thing, which grinds then spits out clients like so much Brick-in-the-Wall ground beef. It won’t inquire, won’t ask, won’t delve too much into the bankruptcy client’s concerns. The bankruptcy mill’s “bankruptcy attorney” can only speak in general terms. In stark contrast, your bankruptcy attorney is an individual who conducts careful inquiry that enables an informed and specific response.

In fairness, in cases, a qualified answer can be the most precise answer. A simplistic, facile response does a disservice. Your San Diego bankruptcy lawyer conveys comprehensive, nuanced explanation that’s essential to the bankruptcy client’s informed decision-making. In the end, the bankruptcy attorney’s answer may be a “yes” or a “no” or a qualified “yes” or “no.” But the bankruptcy client can rest assured that her bankruptcy attorney’s attention delivers individualized–rather than generalized–assessment and follow-through.

4. “Per se”

One of the most lamentable bankruptcy lawyer things an attorney can say is “per se.” “Per se” is passé, and that goes for any kind of Latin. (French, of course, never dies.) All it means is in and of itself or by itself (which is simple enough to spit out in English) and often it’s plain redundant. Per se is per se pretentious, not to mention terrifically, terribly, tortuously trite.

But your bankruptcy attorney must confess Latin expressions sometimes encompass broad concepts that can’t be conveyed in a literal translation per se. Favorites like res judicata are hard to discard.San Diego bankruptcy attorney Asaph Abrams on bankruptcy attorney advice.

Yet, it isn’t just Latin the bankruptcy attorney finds fault with; it’s old English. Your hereinafters and, heretofores, whereins and wheretofores, and other such nonsense. Still, these are conventions in legal writing, which die hard. When he puts pen to paper, there’s bankruptcy attorney comfort in certain words. The proper compromise is to at least abandon the archaic verbiage in speech. In pleadings and papers, we’ll put up with it; in conversation, give it up.

San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney, Asaph Abrams. Offering free, no-obligation Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy consultations in San Diego. Visit us online or call 858-240-6751. E-mail admin@abramslawsd.com to set an appointment. Also representing Imperial County and Riverside County residents. Se habla español.

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[1]
Or rather my “friend.”
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[2]
You may be wondering why your bankruptcy attorney blog is encumbered by worrisome quantities of hyperlinks and petty pop-culture tangents. Of course, it’s an ironic bankruptcy attorney statement of substance on the intolerable levels of obsessively-chronicled trivia that crowds the world wide web. It is no way or form an allusion to your bankruptcy attorney preferred pop culture, or at least I don’t think so
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[3]
Hmmm… on second thought, insofar as “possibly” is opted for by bellicose bounty hunters, then, maybe “possibly” isn’t a proper bankruptcy lawyer substitute for “maybe”?
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Credit: image of Academy-Award winner Jamie Foxx courtesy Georges Biard.  See use rationale here.