• Personally meet your client and introduce them to any staff attorney that may
    assist with their case.

  • Execute a formal retainer with your client, specify what is covered under the
    “flat fee” and what may be billed separately.

  • Ask for identification; both photo and social security – you know they will need it.

  • Run a credit report to make sure that you have full information on the creditors.

  • Educate your client.  Explain what they should expect at various stages of the
    case.

  • Specifically ask about prior cases.  Run Pacer to confirm the information
    provided.

  • Run a judgment search if your client owns realty.  If your client refuses this
    service, get a written waiver.

  • If the Debtor owns realty, make sure you put in writing that the property cannot
    be sold / refinanced without court approval.

  • Include notice to the tax authorities on all cases.  Make certain that all tax
    returns have been filed.

  • Make sure you have your client’s e-mail address.  This is an easy way to keep
    all clients updated as to changes in procedure and law, as well as a good mode
    of communication.

  • Provide the Debtor with a sample of the 341(a) questions asked to ease
    tension prior to that meeting.

  • Advise Debtor of the consequences of not doing certain things.  Do not just tell
    them to pay their mortgage, rather, advise them of what will happen if they fail
    to pay their mortgage.

  • Advise Debtors to make plan payments to the lock box, put case number and
    name on payments which must be in the form of certified check or money order.

  • When applying for additional fees over the course of the case, remember to
    increase the plan payment in your proposed order.

  • When a major event happens over the course of the case, remember to file a
    modified plan when applicable.
Attorney Best Practices for Chapter 13 Practioners

Marie-Ann Greenberg

Chapter 13 Standing Trustee