I really, really miss practicing Bankruptcy law.
Prior to 2011, consumer Bankruptcy law was my bread and butter. It’s what I lived and breathed. Clients came to my office because life rocked them with a combination of four or five economic whacks on the head(foreclosure, loss of job, divorce, medical debt, etc.) and it was too much for them to financially bear.
The meeting of the creditors (think of that as the main event in a Bankruptcy case) was met with nerves-both theirs and mine. I was nervous (am nervous) each time I went before a Trustee. Sitting not 6 inches from my clients, their legs would sometimes shake and voice would often fall to a whisper. 99.9% of the time no issues surfaced and the clients physically manifested a relief that they hadn’t known in years. In years. Years of sleepless nights and fights with their spouses/partners/family. Years of hiding and covering up and interest free transfers. I lived for this. I would get a high when I saw their relief.
Consumer Bankruptcy essentially died as a practice area around 2011. By 2015 the number of filings had dropped by 50% from 4 years prior. Good. I’m happy people aren’t in as much debt (though I don’t buy it.) I’m also happy I had Real Estate and Small Business Law as practice areas to fall back on. They’re great, but they’re not Bankruptcy.
This past week I attending a Meeting of the Creditors with a client. Client, a lovely woman who got herself in a financial jam over the course of many years, was nervous but composed. We waited 2 hours in that small, familiar room, listening to others walk along a tight rope that the Trustee sets when he interviews debtors. She did fine. She walked out. I told her it was over. She collapsed in sobs. She had waited for this very moment for years and what felt like boulders of stress fell off of her. She thanked me with a genuineness you recognize when you hear it (it happens rarely.) No real estate closing can match that feeling. No small business operating agreement comes close.
I really, really, miss practicing Bankruptcy law.