Matthew Scott Berkus’s first bankruptcy client was a young man who was involved in a devastating car accident. He had been recovering from the accident for about a year. Physically he recovered, but suffered a brain injury that made him 100% disabled. He seemed normal, but I could tell he was struggling. Prior to the accident he was a top graphic designer making good money and on an ideal life path.
The accident and long term recovery left him jobless with significant credit card debt and medical bills. If there was a client which bankruptcy was ideally suited, it was this individual. I prepared the case, reviewed the issues with the client, made sure that the case was as perfect as I could make it. Since it was my first case I performed significant reviews of other bankruptcy cases to make sure nothing unexpected would happen. In the end, the case went through with no problems.
However, it wasn’t the case that makes it memorable (aside from being the first), it was the fact that I ran into him a little over a year after I completed his case. It was odd because when his bankruptcy was discharged, he moved to Alaska. I was shopping in my grocery store with my wife and I kept seeing this person that I swore I recognized.
As we passed each other in the aisles we exchanged that quizzical look; that look that says, “I think I know you, but I am not sure.” Finally, he approached me and asked if I were Matt Berkus, and I suddenly realized who he is. We chatted briefly and I learned that he was freelancing as a graphics designer, and doing great. He thanked me for my help with the bankruptcy and relayed that the bankruptcy was a turning point for him, it allowed him get back on track.
Why I am relating this story? After chatting with my former client, I had a revelation; bankruptcy, and debt resolution in general, is one of the very few areas of law where clients emerge in a significantly better position than when they start.
If you think about it, you cannot say that about other areas of law (except maybe adoption). Any other area of law there exists a lingering resentment for needing a lawyer (divorce, personal injury, criminal, business transactions, etc.) and rarely is the person better off as a result of the legal action. Bankruptcy provides a real benefit; bankruptcy is how people recover financially.
Since that time, I have devoted myself to helping individuals, families, and small businesses get out of debt.
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