In my Bankruptcy Alphabet, Z is for Zany. Not that bankruptcy (or any other area of law) is particularly wild and crazy, but things happen after the case is filed that can throw the best-laid plans out of whack. And sometimes lawyers get strange phone calls before even meeting with a client. As bankruptcy attorneys, we try to plan for all possible contingencies. But who would have thought these things would happen?
DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying that any of these things happened in my cases or that I took any of these calls. Some stories may have come from personal experience, some may have been told to me by other bankruptcy lawyers. And others may be made up. Still, I think they’re good stories. I have changed a few details to prevent identifying any of the relevant parties.
Phone call at 3:00 P.M.
PC: Can you stop a foreclosure sale?
L: Usually. When is the sale?
PC: Today at 1:00.
L: You realize that the sale was two hours ago, don’t you?
PC: Yeah, but they don’t really mean that, do they?
Prospective Client: (on phone) Do you do bankruptcies?
PC: If I also have you handle my divorce, will you charge just for the bankruptcy and do the divorce for free?
PC: Then I will NOT hire you! Plenty of other lawyers will charge for just one case.
L: Buy one, get one free in the legal industry is new to me.
PC: YOU ARE GREEDY! *click*
Lawyer: I can take your case. That will be $4000, plus expenses. Certified check or cash only. Be here before 4:00.
Prospective Client: I thought it was customary for attorneys to be paid for Chapter 13 cases through the plan?
L: It’s 3:00. Your house will be sold at 10:00 tomorrow morning, but you waited until today to call me. And you have already told me that you have spoken to three other attorneys that flat-out told you “no.” Are you sure you want to haggle with me?
Debtor files Chapter 7 case on a Friday. On Sunday, he goes to a convenience store and fills up his gas tank. Instead of paying, he tells the owner, “just charge it to my account.” On Monday, he calls his attorney.
Debtor: I need to add another creditor to my bankruptcy.
Attorney: Okay. Why was this creditor not listed before we filed?
D: I just charged the gas this weekend.
A: After we filed? Remember when I told you not to charge things once we filed your case?
D: I thought just a couple days after filing wouldn’t make a difference.
At a hearing in front of a Bankruptcy Judge.
Small Town Lawyer: Your honor, I object to this evidence. I wasn’t given notice of it, despite your pretrial order.
Tall Building Lawyer: Your honor, I didn’t see that part of the order. It was on the second page, and I only read the first page.
Judge: Mr. TBL, maybe it makes me an egomaniac, but I expect attorneys to read all the pages of my orders.
Prospective Client: I have about $50,000 cash. You don’t need to know where I got it. Since it’s in cash, can you protect it for me if I file bankruptcy?
Attorney: Probably not. But I could help you invest it in exempt assets.
PC: But it’s cash. Who would know that I even have it?
A: You’d have to disclose it in your paperwork.
PC: Let’s say I have a gambling problem. What if I gambled it away?
A: Is that what happened?
PC: No, but how would anyone find out I still had the money if I said I lost it gambling?
A: I think you need to find another lawyer.
Granted, I probably think most of these stories are funnier than you do. Unless you’re a fellow bankruptcy attorney, in which case you’re either laughing or nodding your head in recognition. In any case, that’s it for my Bankruptcy Alphabet! Thanks to Jay Fleischman, who suggested this assignment and Ryan Caldwell, who put together an online spreadsheet to help all of the participating bloggers efficiently link to the other Alphabet posts. Finally, thanks to the other attorneys who took part in this exercise. I enjoyed reading your posts!
Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “Z.”
Zero – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange
Zero – by Neighbor Island Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Zero Percent Plan – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Zero Plan Payment – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney Bill Balena
Zillion – by Bay Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Cathy Moran
Zombie – by New York City bankruptcy attorney Jay S. Fleischman
Zones – by Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Zowie! – by Detroit Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt OKeefe
Image Credit: TooFarNorth/flickr