What Does a Bankruptcy Attorney Do?
Bankruptcy attorneys specialize in helping their clients use the court system to reduce or eliminate debts, file for bankruptcy, or seek unpaid debts. They can work with individuals or with businesses, representing debtors, creditors, creditors’ committees, or bankruptcy trustees. Bankruptcy attorneys work in and out of the courtroom, either creating debt restructuring plans for debtors to help them relieve debts or trying to extract as much owed money as possible from debtors on behalf of creditors.
It’s essential for a bankruptcy attorney to not only have an in-depth knowledge of federal and state bankruptcy laws but also skills in litigation, math, and negotiation. A background in finance is also attractive to prospective employers.
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National Average Salary
Bankruptcy attorney salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Bankruptcy Attorney is:
Bankruptcy Attorney Job Descriptions
Crafting the perfect job description may be the key to finding an exceptional bankruptcy attorney. To help you with your recruiting search, our team has put together some examples from past openings.
Our company is hiring a bankruptcy attorney to handle Chapter 7, 11, and 13 bankruptcies. The ideal candidate will have experience in consumer bankruptcy and will be able to work with clients to develop a plan that meets their financial needs. Bankruptcy attorneys are responsible for helping people who are unable to pay their debts get relief from those debts through the declaration of bankruptcy. They also represent and advise clients who wish to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy attorneys must have a degree in law and pass the state bar exam, as well as at least 3 years of experience practicing law.
Typical duties and responsibilities
- Prepare and review court filings
- Draft responses to motions and other filings
- Participate in telephone conferences with clients and adversaries to discuss pending motions and try to resolve disputes
- Engage in discovery for cases
- Strategize with co-counsel or colleagues
- Guide clients through the bankruptcy process
- Present debt restructuring plans in court
Education and experience
This position requires a Juris Doctorate as well as a license to practice law in the state where you will work.
A background in finance, bankruptcy proceedings, tax law, or related fields is preferred.
Required skills and qualifications
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Knowledge of federal and state bankruptcy laws and regulations
- Ability to handle sensitive financial issues with empathy and discretion
- Research skills
- Analytical thinking
- Negotiation skills
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Experience working in a fast-paced firm
- Kind demeanor
- Assist in handling cases from start to finish in collaboration with the senior attorney, including making court appearances
- Help manage client and opposing counsel relationships
- Research and draft legal briefs and memos addressing complicated legal issues
- Manage and coordinate with partners, paralegals, and assistants regarding matters
- Manage multiple deadlines and tasks for various clients at once
- 5+ years of bankruptcy experience. Exposure to chapter 7 and 11 cases and plan confirmation process a must
- Strong legal writing and research skills are paramount
- Ability to manage multiple matters and stay on top of deadlines, strong organizational skills
- Ease in dealing with clients and communicating with opposing counsel
- Positive attitude, proactive, team player, thrives in a fast-paced environment addressing sophisticated client issues
Specific duties and responsibilities
- Review and execute Payment Change Notices, Post-Petition Fee Notices, Transfers of Claim, and Proofs of Claim
- Conduct Chapter 13 Plan Reviews
- Attend court hearings (both telephonic and in person)
- Prepare Motions for Relief from the Automatic Stay, Objections to Chapter 13 Plan, and various pleadings associated with the representation of secured creditors in bankruptcy matters
- Manage assigned case load in manner that meets goals and client expectations
- Handle escalated and time sensitive matters as needed
- Other duties and special projects as needed
- Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school
- Bankruptcy or mortgage servicing experience is preferred but not required
- Admission to practice law in the state; multi jurisdiction admission preferred but not required
- *Chapter 11 and Adversary Proceeding Experience a plus but not required
- Must have excellent communication skills both verbal and written
- Excellent research skills including use of legal and non-legal sources
- Proficient in software tools including but not limited to Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.
- Ability to manage and prioritize large caseload
- Identifies and resolves problems in a timely manner
- Conscientious with respect to work completion, deadlines, time management, and attendance
- Analytical and detail oriented while working at a fast pace
- Excellent problem solving and organizational skills
- Overall good work ethic and willingness to adapt to change
- Represent debtors and creditors in all areas of corporate restructurings, workouts, distressed asset and debt acquisitions, and insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings
- Assist buyers at bankruptcy auctions, parties facing assumption or rejection of leases in bankruptcy, trade creditors asserting reclamation claims or defending preference actions, and other creditors who are simply trying to understand the ramifications of a bankruptcy filing
- Advocated for creditors in bankruptcy proceedings
- Provide advice to our clients on existing laws and regulations and the shifting alliances among various creditor constituencies, from first-day cash collateral disputes to plan negotiations.
- Collaborate with the Senior Partners
- Delegate to paralegals and other support staff
- Excellent legal research, written, and verbal communication skills
Qualification and education requirements
- JD from an ABA accredited law school
- Admission and in good standing with state bar
- 2+ years of experience in Bankruptcy
- Prior experience in finance transactions is a plus
- Bankruptcy Court clerkship is a plus
- Excellent verbal and writing skills
- Excellent academic credentials
- Experience at an AmLaw 100 or 200 firm is preferred
Candidate Certification to Look For
Certified Bankruptcy Law Specialist
The American Board of Certification is the premier legal specialty certification organization – certifying attorneys as specialists in business bankruptcy, consumer bankruptcy, and creditors’ rights law.
Sample Interview Questions
- What is bankruptcy?
- What would a client receive if filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy yourself? If so, what was your situation and how did it work out for you?
- How does a lawyer represent their client in court hearings and negotiations with creditors?
- Can you give me an overview of the creditor’s rights process?
- What are some of the most common mistakes people make when filing for bankruptcy?
- What do you think is the biggest misconception about bankruptcy?
- What advice would you give to someone who is considering bankruptcy?
- If a client has a debt that is not dischargeable in bankruptcy, what is an alternative option?
- What do you enjoy about being a bankruptcy attorney?
- What has been your most rewarding experience in a professional setting? Why?
- How do you stay up-to-date on changes in the bankruptcy law?
- Do you have any upcoming speaking engagements or writing projects that we can be aware of?
- Are you comfortable working with clients who may have a criminal background?