Bankruptcy Paralegal Services
The 2020 coronavirus forced numerous legal activities to take place virtually, including bankruptcy hearings. Job loss during the pandemic has caused many to file Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13. The legal industry needs skilled and experienced bankruptcy paralegals who can jump in to start processing a bankruptcy case before it sits for too long on a docket unheard or unprocessed. This article explains how Bankruptcy Paralegal Services can help assist with bankruptcy cases.
What is a Bankruptcy Paralegal?
A person who works as a bankruptcy paralegal can be self-employed, work for several attorneys simultaneously, or prepare a bankruptcy petition on behalf of the public. A bankruptcy paralegal must follow all laws and regulations under 11 U.S.C. § 110. The law does not permit you to advise in this role. Examples of advice that a client might ask you that you must refer to an attorney includes:
- Whether or not the client’s current debts are legally dischargeable or not
- Whether the client should enter into a rechargeable agreement with creditors or not
- Answer whether you will be able to keep your home and personal vehicle
When you help someone prepare for a bankruptcy protection proceeding in court, the law does not allow you to represent the same person legally. You can only collect basic data on your client as a bankruptcy petitioner. This data includes:
- Your full name
- Mailing address
- Household size
- Other contact information
- The type of bankruptcy you plan to file
- Approximately monthly income
- Schedule of income and debts
Your bankruptcy paralegal can be a significant source of help once the time comes to file the case. Here are some of the things your bankruptcy support team can help you with throughout the process:
- Prepare your bankruptcy petition for Chapter 7, 11, or 13
- Gather all documentation to prepare for your filing
- Prepare for CM, E.C.F., and 341 Meetings.
- Unload documents from trustees
- Manage your bankruptcy proceeding from start to finish
Working as a Bankruptcy Paralegal
The most important thing to remember about working as a bankruptcy paralegal is that you are self-employed. You may work in the same practice area for more than one law firm but make sure each knows about your other clients to avoid any conflict of interest. Besides preparing paperwork and pleadings, you should prepare to spend some of your time researching to see if a client qualifies under some regions of bankruptcy law. The debtor may also need you to clear up any miscommunication and answer questions before going ahead with the bankruptcy. Remember that your client will feel anxious as they get their papers together and file but that ultimately you are helping them make a positive move in their life.
As a trained paralegal, self-employed or otherwise, you should have:
• a knack for details
• a healthy legal mind
• the ability to work with confidential budgets and numbers
•have excellent organizational skills
•the ability to meet deadlines.
With each state maintaining its own rules on bankruptcy filing and obtaining the education to become a paralegal, we recommend that you start at the state level to determine if this is the right career for you.
Most bankruptcy paralegals have the minimum of an associate or bachelor’s degree. To improve your chances of working for a top law firm, you should complete your bankruptcy education requirements through a program sponsored by the American Bar Association.
What to Expect When You Visit a Bankruptcy Paralegal for the First Time
When you first consider filing bankruptcy, you will need to sit down with a bankruptcy paralegal to determine if you meet your state’s bankruptcy qualifications, along with some other criteria. For example, you will need to add up all income sources and expenses to determine if your monthly salary less expenses are at or below the median state income and expense guideline. If your income is over the state monthly guidelines, you will most likely need to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy instead.
The paralegal will ask many questions that we already outlined above. Although it may feel awkward, keep in mind that the paralegal and your attorney must know all financial details to help you in the best way possible. Your bankruptcy paralegal will then prepare your pleadings, schedules, and bankruptcy proceedings. He or she must file adversarial proceedings when any question arises about the dismissability of debt. Your bankruptcy paralegal must get this portion of your case right to avoid wasting time arguing over debts that may not be dismissable.
It is also your paralegal’s job to ensure that you have no remaining questions before starting the bankruptcy process. He or she will complete and file all applicable documents to your bankruptcy court case. Your paralegal is the person who informs and communicates will all creditors to let them know what to expect with the bankruptcy processing, whether you are applying for a discharge of the debt or not.
The paralegal continues to act as a go-between before your pending legal action and what your creditors can and cannot do. One of the paralegal’s last duties with a case is to file a 341 Hearing or a Meeting of the Creditors. The attorney nor the paralegal has much say over when the judge schedules the 341 Meeting or Meeting of Creditors. Both must be prepared to juggle other legal meetings and appointments to ensure they don’t miss that crucial creditor meeting.
Getting Started with a Bankruptcy Paralegal
Hiring a paralegal that specializes in bankruptcy presents many benefits, such as:
• helps to keep a bankruptcy case on track.
• tracks the deadlines for each form
• ensures that the client’s documents are submitted before that date.
Lexhelper is here to assist you with locating the best Bankruptcy Paralegal for your law firm’s needs. Today, please contact us at 770-373-5583 to learn more about our Bankruptcy Paralegal services for your law firm.
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