Pro Bono Barrister
By Charles F. Otey, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Recently, we received a phone call from a worried parent whose concern was that a school in which his son was about to enroll — at substantial expense — had “gone bankrupt.” He learned of this dire prospect, he said, “on the Internet.”
It didn’t require an attorney with expertise in bankruptcy to ask the next question: Are you sure the school is bankrupt, or just going through some serious financial reorganization?
He didn’t know and had assumed bankrupt meant “totally broke” (his term). He agreed that he should contact the school directly, which he did, and called me back the next day sounding very relieved, explaining that the respected institution of learning was indeed “reorganizing,” going through “major loan modification.”
“What should I do?” he asked.
I came up with a truly professional answer: Contact an attorney who limits her practice, mainly, to bankruptcy law.
A week later, the parent called to report that he had indeed found a “specialist in bankruptcy” (his term, not mine) and was confident that the “reorganization” would not detract from the school’s otherwise outstanding credentials.
Time was when filing for bankruptcy marked the end of a business, career, or both. Once General Motors resorted to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (back in the 1970s) to save its corporate life, the perception of eminent demise for troubled filers slowly, but surely, began to change.
Some still recall the slogan from when GM was the international symbol of this country and dominated across the globe. It went like this: What’s Good for General Motors Is Good for the USA! This was the same era, by the way, when “You Could Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star” (Texaco).
Indeed, the GM bankruptcy did help to remove the stigma attached to the once-controversial legal maneuver. (In fact, unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney argued, belatedly, that bankruptcy would be better than a federal bailout for much of the again-troubled automotive industry. Of course, he lost Michigan.)
Today, however, there probably isn’t a single practicing barrister who hasn’t been asked to “handle” a bankruptcy for friends or relatives, or just counsel them on whether to select Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 as their path to economic survival.
All of this accounts for the timeliness of the upcoming 2014 Bankruptcy CLE Series, which will be the main feature of CLE fall presentations by the Brooklyn Bar Association, in the capable hands of new BBA President Rebecca Woodland.
The first installment of this important series is set to take place on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. at BBA headquarters, 123 Remsen St. Participating attorneys will learn the “Bankruptcy Basics.” While this delivery is calculated to be of particular benefit to those who have not handled many bankruptcies, some essential, day-to-day procedures will be reviewed.
Topics often covered in this September series, which continues on Sept. 16 and 23 (same time, same place), include: How to Properly Complete and Amend Schedules and Other Required Filings; How to Convert to Other Chapters; The Basics of How to Complete the Means Test Form; How to Get the Meeting of Creditors Closed in One Visit; and Basic Client Interviewing.
The subsequent bankruptcy sessions will include the more complex areas of bankruptcy.
BBA Members Prepare To See Mets, Win CLE Credit
It won’t be all work and no play for the BBA in September because, on Sept. 17, members will journey to Citi Field to root for the home team when the Mets host the Miami Marlins.
They will also earn a professional practice credit in the area of Immigration and Foreign Athletes, aware, of course, that a disproportionate number of Major League players now hail from the Dominican Republic.
Complicating this sizeable influx of talent, quite often, is the issue of valid birth certificates. More than one player from that island nation has been charged with losing a few years in actual age to increase his salary value to professional baseball teams.
Other BBA officers include President-Elect Arthur Aidala, First Vice President Hon. Frank Seddio, Second Vice President Aimee Richter and Secretary Dave Chidekel. Executive director is Avery Eli Okin.
For more information on these courses, call 718-624-0675, or e-mail [email protected].