In defence of lawyers- maybe they should not go to the bottom of the ocean just yet.

LawyerI am getting regular comments on my blogs attacking me and attacking lawyers in general so I thought I would write a blog that defends lawyers.  I have been a lawyer for over 12 years now.  I Lincoln-lawyershave done many things before the law so it is not the only profession I know.  I am now doing bankruptcy law but I have practiced in the areas of Immigration and Landlord/Tenant also.

It is well-known that many people do not like lawyers.  They are considered dishonest, greedy, self-serving “blood suckers” by many.  In fact one of my kids favorite movies is Jurassic Park where the lawyer is openly called a “blood sucker” to his face and he is the first to be eaten by the T-Rex as he hides on the toilet.

Shakespeare has a line in a play about them all being killed and lawyers are the butt of many jokes like one that puts them at the bottom of the ocean (like drowned rats) as a good start.  On talk radio they are skewered often and many talk show hosts seem to consider them the root of all evil.  They seem to be blamed for many evils in society.

For those of you that have been around long enough it reminds me of what police were thought of in the 1960s.  Many hippies and radicals wrongly thought of the police as the cause of all ills in society at that time.  The implication then was that if we just got rid of them then society and everyone would be better off.

But I remember what I read in a “Mad” magazine once when I was a youngster in the 1960s.  A hippy was protesting the cops and holding up signs calling them “pigs” in full view of the police officers.  Then a mugger came along and robbed the hippy of his wallet.  He immediately called out “help, help police” and the cops did not help him and responded with “no one here but us pigs”.

And the same is true of lawyers.  The same people who say they hate lawyers will call one very quickly if they are sued, or served a divorce, set upon by the IRS, or especially if they are arrested.  The lawyers will dutifully come to their aid and help them.  What if they didn’t?

And you may say” but lawyers are paid so well for their work”.  Not always.  Many in private practice are losing money because running a law office is expensive and clients are hard to come by and they often don’t pay their lawyers.  You would be surprised at how often and how much lawyers talk among themselves about their struggles in getting paid by clients and their resulting financial difficulties.

Also it is true as you may have suspected that there are too many lawyers out there for the available clients.   And remember that things are far worse and lawyers are getting even fewer clients now with the recession.

Lawyers are well aware of their reputation.  I work in a building with a hundred lawyers and we talk about this stuff.  We know we are hated and under-appreciated.  I once got a quote from a lawyer that was very interesting:  “Your lawyer in practice spends a considerable part of his life in doing distasteful things for disagreeable people who must be satisfied against an impossible time limit in which are hourly interruptions from other disagreeable people who want to derail the train; and for his blood, sweat, and tears, he receives in the end a few unkind words to the effect that it might have been done better, and a protest at the size of the fee.”

This partially reflects the lawyers perspective.  He or she is doing these difficult tasks for difficult people under pressure and they are rarely happy with it.  And this is he can even get a client in this recessionary environment.  It is no wonder that lawyers suffer from problems with drugs, alcohol, depression, and suicide.   Very often lawyers become disillusioned with law and leave it altogether because doing it everyday is not what you might think.

Most lawyers I know now in private practice are certainly hurting now.  Business is down, clients are scarce and money is tight.  Clients just don’t have money to spend.  These lawyers are not getting rich or blood sucking but just trying to survive like everyone else.  They have kids in school and house bills to pay too.

And remember that many are providing a valuable service.  They provide this service to many people and get very little in return.  They are often doing things like helping people in very bad marriages break up peacefully, or getting people out of deep debt, or keeping people out of jail, or fighting off a lawsuit that could potentially ruin them.  In addition they are defending those against the government which has unlimited resources to come after anyone of us.  And who is going to defend you when that happens?  Only a lawyer can.

So don’t put lawyers at the bottom of the ocean yet.  In Shakespeare’s Henry VI play the character who says “kill all the lawyers” is trying to stage a revolution, take over the country, and establish himself as king.  He knows who will stop him.  Those that know the law, the Constitution, and how to get things done in court and throughout the legal system.  The lawyers would stop him from taking over so character asking to kill the lawyers is the villain in the story and the lawyers are the heroes.  This quote is usually used in the opposite way in which Shakespeare intended it.

So the next time you are being “mugged” (i.e. sued) in court by a private party or by the government remember who is going to help you.  The lawyers and only the lawyers will and only the lawyers can.  They are the heroes of our story here.  When you call out for a lawyer to defend you be nice to them.  You don’t want the lawyers to respond with “nobody here but us drowned rats”.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For further questions please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation or for any other advice about bankruptcy or debt at (619) 702-5015. Call now for free credit report and analysis!

For a free e-book on “13 things to do to prepare for your bankruptcy filing” please e-mail me at farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Lawyer clipart courtesy of OCAL.  Lincoln quote courtesy of mrsdkrebs.

After filing will bankruptcy be a “skeleton” in your closet?

I just read an article that really set me off.  According to an article posted online by the Washington Guardian 13 people running for the US Senate have bankruptcies or criminal records.  One candidate, Scott D’amboise, filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2003 where he listed more than $100,00 in credit card debt, doctors bills, and a mortgage.

In the article they state that D’Amboise’s son had a medical crisis that caused him to undergo seven operations and at the time his medical coverage was insufficient to pay for these expenses.  His $100,000 in credit card debt was also probably related to that medical bill too.  This is very common as many of my clients run up their credit cards in an attempt to pay medical bills before they throw in the towel and file for bankruptcy.

Though this type of bankruptcy scenario seems common to me the article takes on a disapproving tone about these bankruptcies.  They describe these people as “candidates with past troubles” and they include bankruptcies and criminal records in the same article which mixes the two up as if they are the same thing.

Bankruptcy is a legal, moral, and federally approved and legitimate way of dealing with debts that one cannot pay.  There is certainly nothing immoral, unethical, or criminal about it.  To include criminal issues and bankruptcy in th same article is extremely unfair.  D’Amboise in under a legal, moral, and ethical duty to provide medical care to his son.  If he does not have the money to pay for it then he has to borrow just like all my other clients and just like any of us without the resources to pay the medical bills.

The monthly payment on a $100,000 credit card debt would be astronomical depending on the interest rate and probably beyond the ability of the vast majority of Americans to pay.  If D’Amboise did not file for bankruptcy he would be hounded by creditors who mostly have no mercy and will call his home endlessly.  He would then be subject to lawsuits and collection efforts which would tap his bank accounts and garnish his wages leaving hin even less money to live on and pay his bills which would undoubtably get him into further trouble.

Another candidate, Hector Balderas, apparently filed for bankruptcy back in 1995 when he was a college student working on an assembly line.  How many college students do you know that also work on assembly lines?  Instead of congratulating him for his hard work there seems to be a strong note of disapproval for his filing bankruptcy when he was only 21 years old.

The article then goes on to talk about the crimes of other candidates as well as alleged bankruptcy fraud of another candidate.  To compare bankruptcy with crime and fraud is a very bad and unfair thing to do in my opinion.  Bankruptcy is certainly legal and often he only good option for people in serious debt.  There are other options to bankruptcy when one has a high degree of debt except they are all worse than bankruptcy for the debtor.

Bankruptcy settles debt by discharging it legally.  If debtors have any surplus assets (above the allowable exemption amounts) those assets are sold to pay their creditors.  The whole system is monitored by a series of bankruptcy trustees and a bankruptcy judge as well as federal law enforcement to prevent fraud and crimes.

How is it then that we still get these articles that seem to connect bankruptcy with fraud and crime as if they are all the same sort of skeletons in closets?  This is ludicrous and wrong. Bankruptcy is not doing something wrong, it is doing something right.  If you have debts you cannot possibly pay and the wolves are at your door to take your bank accounts, your assets, and your income what are you to do?

You can’t escape the debts and you can’t pay them but you have to live.  Many hide or go underground to avoid this situation and that is wrong.  Some check out altogether and that is tragic.  The right thing to do is to admit you cannot pay and file a bankruptcy.  If your kid needs operations then what choice do you have?   He must have the operations which can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Who in America can pay for this?  Very few.

Again there is often only one good and right and moral and legal answer to this debt situation and that is bankruptcy.  But let’s not mix that up with criminality because it is legal and has been so for hundreds of years.  It is also moral and sanctioned in Deuteronomy in the Old Testament of the Bible.  Bankruptcy has been around a long time and its time we stop trying to put a scarlet letter on any one who does the right thing and files one.

It is time for bankruptcy to come out of the closet and shed its skeletal image.  I say file one and be proud that you took the moral, legal, ethical, and right path to debt freedom and not another road that leads to bad things. The good news is that after a few of these people get elected and the public sees that they are still good people then they will pave the way for others to run for political office proudly after having done the right thing and filed bankruptcy.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For further questions please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!  For a free e-book on “13 things to do to prepare for your bankruptcy filing” please e-mail me at farquharesq@yahoo.com.