Mythology in Modern Day Bankruptcy: for the discriminating bankruptcy client

In bankruptcy, bloated law firms or "mills" provide inferior public services.
In Greek Mythology, Hercules retained a bankruptcy mill for chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Consequently, he battled the Bankruptcy Hydra.

The Discerning Client in Bankruptcy Lawyer Land

According to a recent study I made up, San Diego boasts 2.6 attorneys per capita and 2.7 bankruptcy attorneys per capita.  The point being, if you are a capita (which you are, unless you lost your head, which does happen), then you have choices.  But, not really.

Not every one of San Diego’s 8,478,186.3 [1] “bankruptcy attorneys” are really bankruptcy attorneys, especially the one who’s only 3/10’s of one. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy are minefields; the San Diego dilettantes and dabblers depart from the specialized focus, which the practice demands.  And the unscrupulous, unreachable bankruptcy attorney gives the client short shrift.  It is incumbent upon the San Diego bankruptcy attorney to inform of, prepare for and avoid the many bankruptcy pitfalls.  Absent expertise and individualized attention, a purported bankruptcy attorney shall fail the client and the profession.

The San Diego bankruptcy client may select counsel by process of elimination.  Herein, she is made aware of two types of bankruptcy lawyers that would do disservice:

Type 1 Bankruptcy Attorney: the Novice

The first troubled bankruptcy attorney is he who hasn’t experience, expertise, guidance or mentorship.  Even if attached to a large firm, a new bankruptcy attorney lacks direction: the client mustn’t presume that a “senior” bankruptcy lawyer will supervise underlings.

The new bankruptcy attorney may also be a veteran attorney…  yet, one who’s a veteran of say, personal injury law or criminal law or personal-injury-caused-by-criminals law.  They may attempt bankruptcy on the side.  The San Diego bankruptcy client is not a side dish; she deserves specialized representation.   One should be wary of moonlighters lest one’s bankruptcy case be mucked up big-time.

Type 2 Bankruptcy Attorney: This One Entails a Dump

This bankruptcy “attorney” shall simply dump the client.  Type 2 isn’t a person; it’s an entity.  I speak of the Bankruptcy Mill, the large-scale, low-quality outfit, which reaps clients through blitzkrieg advertising.

I know its nature from having done a stint at a bankruptcy mill many-years past.  I know from the prevalent tales from bankruptcy mills’ would-be or erstwhile clients.  I know from censorious media coverage and from state bar records.   Reports convey that would-be clients are pressured by salesman-like tactics and clients meet “their” bankruptcy lawyer for the first time at a formal hearing; the so-called appearance attorney had no hand in the preparation of the client’s case.  It’s akin to getting cut by a surgeon who never examined you first.

The bankruptcy mills charge more for less; legal work’s performed by non-attorneys, and the hapless client is more of a number than a person.  Inflated bankruptcy fees sustain massive ad campaigns, which compensate for poor word of mouth.  Ultimately, the bankruptcy mill became a bubble, which burst.  But, not really.

Not so long ago, in this-here galaxy, a bloated bankruptcy mill shuttered on the professed ground of being overextended. The firm cited tapped resources as cause for leaving existing clients hanging without valid substitution of bankruptcy counsel.  Bankruptcy law is time-sensitive: unjustified abandonment in media res effects egregious prejudice upon the client.  An authority issued a slap on the wrist; the bankruptcy mill’s figurehead attorney was issued a brief suspension from legal practice. Yet, the operation of the erstwhile mill’s principal attorneys continues unabated.[2]

The Bankruptcy Hydra

The mill did not achieve–what the vampires in True Blood refer to as–the true death.  Or, to quote from The Princess Bride’s clever concept of the gradual demise, it was only sort of dead, or mostly dead, but certainly not all dead.  The mill was in fact the mythological Lernaean Hydra.  This was the many-headed serpentine species, which proved to be a pickle for old Hercules.  When one head was severed, two grew in its place.  And so it was, when San Diego bankruptcy’s monumental mill folded, its principals simply split and opened two new outfits with fresh, fictitious business names, lest they betray past notoriety.  At least one of them is a “bona fide” mill in its scope of operation.  The new mill expands by way of enormous advertising dollars, which belies the claim that financial collapse compelled it to slam its doors upon existing clients.  Past prepaid clients were abandoned, yet funds remain to sustain colossal ad campaigns to ensnare an unsuspecting public.

The process of chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy is personal: it dramatically affects the lives and welfare of San Diego clients and their families. It is reasonable that one’s bankruptcy lawyer be a real person: an attorney who stands by the client from start to finish and stands by his own name, because that’s the name on the shingle.  Yet, the mill is an entity.  At the mill, the client lacks loyal and consistent contact with a “human” bankruptcy lawyer. The bankruptcy mill is an entity and an entity cannot feel nor care.  It can close its doors and say, to hell with you all.

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 to set an appointment. Also representing Imperial County and Riverside County residents.

[1] This figure is properly calculated as the product of San Diego County’s actual population and the per capita bankruptcy attorney numbers, which constitute an educated guess.

[2] In online publications, even the name of the figurehead was still featured for a good while post-suspension.