When choosing an Atlanta bankruptcy attorney, you get what you pay for. The trustees in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have become much more demanding over the past 2 to 3 years in particular and they expect that cases will contain accurate and thoroughly checked information
It is very possible that you have never had the need for a lawyer before, and you may wonder why you should choose Jonathan Ginsberg and Susan Blum of Ginsberg Law Offices to represent you with your bankruptcy. There are many capable and skilled bankruptcy lawyers practicing in the Atlanta area, but there is a difference when you compare personal bankruptcy law firms.
Prior to 2005 – the last big change to the federal Bankruptcy Code – it was not unusual to see general practitioners and old fashioned family lawyers filing two or three cases per year. Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the rules for filing were not especially strict and lawyers did not need expensive software or computer knowledge.
Twenty years ago, Jonathan was a partner in a law firm filed as many as 100 cases a month, and employed three lawyers and six paralegals. Often, the attorneys at that firm were so busy fielding phone calls that it was very difficult to devote sufficient attention to any one case. Back then, the trustees were more lenient and the Court put fewer mandatory requirements on lawyers. That is not the case any more.
In 2005, the bankruptcy landscape changed dramatically. First, the BAPCPA amendments to the Bankruptcy Code went into effect. These changes added the means test and new rules regarding documentation. The cost of bankruptcy preparation software went way up and the learning curve for new procedures became very steep.
Secondly, around 2005, the Clerk of Court began requiring lawyers to file electronically. This was and is part of a move by all federal courts to go paperless. Electronic filing is not difficult but it requires an investment in equipment – most notably a high speed scanner, and familiarity with the Clerk’s filing system. Instead of driving to the courthouse, and waiting in line to hand copies of bankruptcy petitions to filing clerks, we now file electronically from our offices by logging into the Clerk’s system.
These changes have largely driven out the general practitioners who used to dabble in the area of personal bankruptcy. It is simply not cost effective to file one or two cases per year and those lawyers who do not want to make bankruptcy a major part of their practice have simply dropped this practice area.
High Volume Filers vs. Boutique Law Firms
With the exit of the dabblers, what we generally have left are a few high volume filers and about two-dozen boutique firms who focus on personal attention and service. Ginsberg Law Offices falls into the boutique law firm category.
High volume filers (sometimes called bankruptcy mills) use an assembly line process. These firms file 50 or more cases per month and they generally assign lawyers and staff to specific tasks. For example, some high volume firms send one or two attorneys to court every day to handle all the firm’s creditor meeting hearings for the day.
Another bankruptcy mill attorney may stay back at the office to handle creditor objections and yet another may appear in the judge’s courtrooms to handle confirmation issues and motions for relief from stay. Often, but not always, you may appear in court with a lawyer you have never seen before.
Some of the high volume firms do good work and you will pay a little less, on average. On the other hand, you will usually give up personal service and any kind of personal relationship with your lawyer.
At Ginsberg Law Offices, we do not use the assembly line approach with our cases. Instead, you will interact directly with your lawyer throughout the course of your case. If, for example, you have been working with Susan Blum, and you have a question, you will call or email Susan directly to get your answer. Your call will not be shuffled off to a paralegal or “baby lawyer” because Susan is too busy.
Jonathan Ginsberg has been involved in starting a consumer bankruptcy practice twice and he has absolutely no desire or intention to create another high volume practice. Our experience has been that a successful bankruptcy case involves a kind of partnership between one of us as your attorney and you as the client, and on-going communication. Our job is to ask the right questions, prepare your paperwork properly and represent your interests zealously and thoroughly before the trustees and/or bankruptcy judges. Your job is to provide accurate information, and perform obligations as agreed upon.
After 30+ years of total practice experience in the consumer bankruptcy area, we have a pretty good idea about whether or not a case will work and whether it will be cost effective for me to enter into an attorney-client relationship. As such, we do not accept every case that comes across our desk. And while our fees are far less than some of our competitors, we are also not a discount law firm.
Jonathan and Susan do our best to offer the following to our clients:
Jonathan has practiced law since 1987 and started working with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy clients around 1990. In the mid 1990′s Jonathan was the senior partner in a very busy bankruptcy law firm that filed as many as 100 cases per month. In 2009, Susan Blum joined the firm as an of counsel attorney after several years’ experience as an associate attorney at another law firm. Ginsberg Law does not use paralegals to prepare our cases and when we are working with a client, Jonathan or Susan will respond directly to emails and phone calls.
2. Approach to clients
Our job as your lawyer focuses on solving your problems. We do not judge you, nor do we treat you as if we are doing you a favor to talk with you. Financial issues resulting in a bankruptcy filing can happen to anyone – over the years Jonathan and Susan have represented or advised friends, friends of friends, doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers – people from every walk of life. We take very seriously our duty to keep your confidences and secrets – and on several occasions we have met with clients in restaurants or public buildings to avoid any publicity. We take very seriously our obligation to serve you as the best Atlanta bankruptcy attorney possible. Take a look at our profiles on sites like Avvo.com to read what some of my actual clients are saying about me. Jonathan’s AVVO profile. Susan’s AVVO profile.
3. Industry recognition
Jonathan and Susan regularly teach bankruptcy practice skills to other lawyers at continuing education seminars. Both of us serve on the faculty of the National Business Institute teaching Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 practice. Several years ago Jonathan was selected by his colleagues to serve as one of 28 contributing authors of the Bankruptcy Law Network blog. The Bankruptcy Law Network is widely recognized as an authoritative source of information about consumer bankruptcy law and the members regularly engage in discussion on our private forum about current issues in this area of practice.
Jonathan has also published continuously since 2005 the Atlanta Bankruptcy blog, which is widely read by individuals, bankruptcy lawyers, trustees and other bankruptcy professionals. Finally both Jonathan and Susan believe in sharing our knowledge and helping both the legal community and the public at large learn about the bankruptcy law. Both of us have and currently mentor new lawyers in this area. We use social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to talk about bankruptcy issues.
We take seriously the idea that you get what you pay for. Ginsberg Law Offices is not a “discount” or “high volume” bankruptcy firm. We do not use contract lawyers you have never met to appear with you at hearings. When you attend your meeting of creditors hearing you will not see us wander from room to room calling out your name to find you. After your hearing, your attorney (Jonathan or Susan) will sit down with you to explain what happened and to discuss our next steps, instead of running off to find the next 10 cases scheduled for that day. When your trustee asks during your meeting of creditors hearing if you met with one of us personally to prepare your filings, you can honestly answer “yes.” In short, we will offer you the same level of courtesy and service that either of us would expect if we were the client.
We should be clear that Ginsberg Law Offices is not a discount law firm. Our prices are not as low as a bankruptcy mill but our fees are far less than what a downtown law firm might charge. We offer personal service and the expertise to handle unusual issues that may pop up.
We hope that the quantity and quality of the information set out on this web site will give you a sense about how we do business and that you will feel comfortable contacting us about your possible bankruptcy situation. We invite you to contact us by phone – 770-393-4985, fax – 770-393-0240 or send us an email at atlantabankruptcy (at) gmail.com.