Possible Ineffective Bankruptcy Counsel

For just about anything you want to get off your chest about credit cards.
8 posts
ColonelSandurz
Green Member
Green Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:30 am
Location: NJ

Possible Ineffective Bankruptcy Counsel

Postby ColonelSandurz » Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:40 pm

Last year I had to file for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy. Having never done this before, I retained a bankruptcy attorney that I assumed would be an expert in doing this. While the bankruptcy was discharged without any real difficulty, it seems as if the instructions and assistance he provided had some serious flaws in them, including:

- instructing me to include all accounts in my bankruptcy - I'm not sure if this was the correct thing to do, especially since now accounts that I had a $0 balance with and could have simply closed are showing on my credit reports as "included in bankruptcy" and possibly lowering my credit score

- telling me to include all of my student loans in the bankruptcy (despite that fact that I don't think these can very easily be discharged by bankruptcy) - he then appeared very unsure of whether they were really discharged or not, and even worse, by including them in the bankruptcy, it triggered clauses in some of the contracts that allowed them to be paid by the loan insurers and then full payment was expected from me to the loan insurers. While it's very possible this might have happened anyway, at the least I would expect him to alert me of this ahead of time* so I could prepare or see if there was any way to mitigate these issues (since now I'm dealing with collection agencies)

*And yes, I would expect that in today's day and age, a bankruptcy attorney would be aware of this caveat with respect to student loans - is that expecting too much?


Anyway, I'm just wondering if I have any recourse against the attorney, or can do anything to try and fix some of the above problems? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks.


User avatar
CarefulBuilder14
Centurion Member
Centurion Member
 
Posts: 4447
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 7:42 pm
Location: United States

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:07 pm

I am not a lawyer. What I am saying is based on browsing Nolo and the NJ State Judiciary website.

Giving and getting legal advice as far as what you should do is generally beyond the scope of the forum.

I would agree that the lawyer doesn't sound very smart (or at least was very disorganized and ineffective in handling your case).

From what I have read, though, it is extremely difficult (and expensive) to successfully sue a lawyer for malpractice. Unless a lawyer actually lies to you or steals your money, I'm not aware you have much recourse. Lawyers have simply legally insulated themselves from having to deal with any consequences of screwing up.
Warranties and sketchy merchants: Schwab Platinum
Price rewind: Costco
Travel insurance: Prestige, CSP
Perks: IHG, Hyatt
Rewards/Offers: Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE
Taxes/Misc: SPG

Limited value, might close: Arrival

Might add: First Tech, proper business card

User avatar
djrez4
Centurion Member
Centurion Member
 
Posts: 1468
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:20 pm
Location: United States

Postby djrez4 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:52 pm

Sounds pretty malpracticy to me.

Attorneys have an ethical obligation to provide competent services.
[RIGHT][size=100]- Sapphire Preferred - Freedom - Ink - Platinum - Everyday Preferred -[/size]
[/RIGHT]

ColonelSandurz
Green Member
Green Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:30 am
Location: NJ

Postby ColonelSandurz » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:01 pm

djrez4 wrote:Sounds pretty malpracticy to me.

Attorneys have an ethical obligation to provide competent services.


Unfortunately, it appears that I just chose an incompetent lawyer... :(

User avatar
CarefulBuilder14
Centurion Member
Centurion Member
 
Posts: 4447
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 7:42 pm
Location: United States

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:05 pm

djrez4 wrote:Sounds pretty malpracticy to me.

Attorneys have an ethical obligation to provide competent services.


An ethical obligation? Yes. An enforceable legal obligation? That's not so clear.

These are some of the links I was reading in case anyone else wants a crack at this:

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/problems-with-lawyer-tips-strategies-29925.html

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/oae/atty_disc/atty_disc.htm#intro

http://www.ehow.com/how_8196331_complain-bar-association-new-jersey.html
Warranties and sketchy merchants: Schwab Platinum
Price rewind: Costco
Travel insurance: Prestige, CSP
Perks: IHG, Hyatt
Rewards/Offers: Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE
Taxes/Misc: SPG

Limited value, might close: Arrival

Might add: First Tech, proper business card

User avatar
djrez4
Centurion Member
Centurion Member
 
Posts: 1468
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:20 pm
Location: United States

Postby djrez4 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:21 am

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:An ethical obligation? Yes. An enforceable legal obligation? That's not so clear.


You can use evidence of an ethics violation in a malpractice action.

Link 1 Link 2

Malpractice is most easily understood as a violation of a duty the attorney may have to a client. There are easy ones - treating client money improperly, s3x with an opposing party - and there are more difficult ones - failure to adequately prepare for trial, taking a case without the skills or knowledge to handle it. For an attorney, making a mistake is not grounds for malpractice; utter failure to understand the applicable law may be.

I'm not trying to throw your attorney under the bus, here. We all screw up once in a while. However, I wouldn't take on a client who needed bankruptcy counsel because I don't know how to file bankruptcy for someone - it's outside of my skill set right now. It sounds like your attorney may have been in over his or her head; even I know that there are special rules about discharging student loans.

On the other hand, I don't think having $0 balance accounts discharged drops your credit score any lower. You're already at the bottom of the barrel, to be frank. I'm guessing that your loans were turned over to the guarantee agency and accelerated. You should be able to tell what was included in your bankruptcy by looking at the Schedule F (if your attorney put it in the right place - check Schedules D-G). If the student loans were discharged in a bankruptcy, it's my understanding that the guarantee companies can't turn around and come after you for the debt.

I'm not a bankruptcy attorney, but I've seen quite a few petitions over the last few years. This wouldn't be the first time someone inappropriately tried to discharge a student loan.

(Disclaimer - I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. None of this should be construed as legal advice. Consult counsel.)
[RIGHT][size=100]- Sapphire Preferred - Freedom - Ink - Platinum - Everyday Preferred -[/size]

[/RIGHT]

User avatar
CarefulBuilder14
Centurion Member
Centurion Member
 
Posts: 4447
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 7:42 pm
Location: United States

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:27 am

From reading djrez4's links and explanation, it is clear that malpractice by a lawyer is more broadly defined than I previously thought. A lot will depend on the particulars of your case and different state laws, but you may have some recourse.
Warranties and sketchy merchants: Schwab Platinum
Price rewind: Costco
Travel insurance: Prestige, CSP
Perks: IHG, Hyatt
Rewards/Offers: Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE
Taxes/Misc: SPG

Limited value, might close: Arrival

Might add: First Tech, proper business card

User avatar
djrez4
Centurion Member
Centurion Member
 
Posts: 1468
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:20 pm
Location: United States

Postby djrez4 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:11 pm

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:From reading djrez4's links and explanation, it is clear that malpractice by a lawyer is more broadly defined than I previously thought. A lot will depend on the particulars of your case and different state laws, but you may have some recourse.


There's a reason we have to pay $1,000s a year for malpractice insurance. People tend to resent times when they need us, even when we save their asses.
[RIGHT][size=100]- Sapphire Preferred - Freedom - Ink - Platinum - Everyday Preferred -[/size]

[/RIGHT]



Return to “General Credit Card Talk”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests