Bankruptcy AttorneyJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends
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.
Sample job description
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
Strong interpersonal skills
Experience working in a fast-paced firm
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for a bankruptcy attorney is $100,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
Typical work environment
Bankruptcy attorneys typically work in law firms, though some may work for the government or in private practice.
The typical work hours in an office setting for a bankruptcy attorney are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, many attorneys work more than 40 hours a week, especially when preparing for trials or nearing deadlines.
All lawyers have to pass the LSAT and have a J.D. from an accredited university. Without these things, you can not practice law. One must also be certified in the state that they are practicing, which means you’ll need to recertify in each state you are not currently certified in. Though there aren’t any additional certifications beyond that, it doesn’t hurt to continue your education. Here is a popular certification:
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.
Bankruptcy attorneys are required to have a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and a license to practice law in the state where they work. A bachelor’s degree is necessary to pursue a J.D. degree. College course work in subjects like creditors’ rights, income taxation, negotiations, and other bankruptcy-specific courses are also recommended for students who know they want to specialize in bankruptcy law. There are also master’s of law programs in bankruptcy available for people who already have their Juris Doctorate and want to get even more specialized knowledge.
Most attorneys start in law firms as associates, then progress with either a partner or non-partner track, leading to positions as partners, senior attorneys, or of counsel.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 23-1011
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
Bankruptcy law is ever-changing, and bankruptcy attorneys need to stay up-to-date on any changes to federal and state laws. The number of bankruptcy filings and proceedings tends to track with, but slightly behind, the economy. When the economy is good, fewer people get behind on debt payments, and there are fewer filings. When the economy reverses course, bankruptcy filings eventually go up, though probably not immediately.
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?
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