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Bankruptcy Clinic

The Bankruptcy Clinic is an extension of the Pro Bono Bankruptcy Program that was started in 2009. In its first year of operation, the program received the President’s Award from the New York State Bar Association for excellence in pro bono service.

Clinic students will represent indigent individuals in need of bankruptcy protection. A bankruptcy client will be assigned to each clinic student. First year pro bono student volunteers will also assist the clinic students as part of a team. The clinic students and volunteers will work with the clients to obtain the information required by the Bankruptcy Code, organize the information, and prepare the petition and supporting bankruptcy schedules. The clinic students will also represent the client at the official meeting of creditors, and will be responsible for addressing any issues that arise in the case.

The class component will involve formal training in basic consumer bankruptcy law and practice, and a regular open discussion of issues that have arisen in the cases.

The clinic students will be supervised by Professor Germain, who will teach the course component and work closely with the students in preparing and filing the bankruptcy petition and schedules.

What to expect:

The bankruptcy clinic is a full year one credit course. The class will meet every other week for fifty minutes. In addition, students will be expected to spend an average of 2 hours per week working with clients and their team members on the cases.

In the Classroom:

The class component will include basic training in consumer bankruptcy law, including a review of the state law judgment collection process, exemptions both in and out of bankruptcy, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process, the means test and dismissal rules, exceptions to discharge, the scope and function of the discharge, reaffirmation, and an overview of the Chapter 13 process. The class component will focus on the applicable New York and federal bankruptcy statutes. In addition, the clinic students will discuss the status of and issues that arise in their cases.

The process of preparing a bankruptcy case involves the following basic tasks:

  • Formal engagement of the client.
  • A client interview to determine the client’s financial history, including assets, liabilities, income, expenses, creditors, and property transfers.
  • A careful review of the client’s credit report.
  • Organizing the client information and preparing the bankruptcy schedules for review by the professor. After review, the schedules will be revised until they are ready to be filed.
  • Meeting with the client and the professor to print, sign and file the bankruptcy petition.
  • Providing the trustee with any requested information in advance of the official meeting of creditors.
  • Representing the client at the official meeting of creditors, where the client will be questioned by the trustee (and possibly by creditors).
  • Addressing any other matters that arise in the case, such as objections to discharge, requests for exceptions to discharge, reaffirmation of debts, student loan hardship discharges, and other matters that may arise in the case.

The students will be responsible for performing these tasks, and working with the clients to obtain the needed information.