About the Clinic
Volunteer attorneys represent individuals filing personal bankruptcy by providing advice, preparing the petition and related schedules, attending the meeting of creditors, and otherwise handling all aspects of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center pre-screens all clients before they are referred to volunteer attorneys to ensure that potential bankruptcy petitioners are eligible for pro bono services and good candidates for bankruptcy protection.
The Need for a Bankruptcy Clinic
There were 75 percent more personal bankruptcy filings in the District of Columbia in 2012 than just six years ago. In 2012, 1.2 million households filed personal bankruptcy petitions nationwide, for a five-year cumulative total of 6.5 million petitions, representing about 5.7 percent of all US households. The Washington metropolitan area seems to have a higher–than–average ratio of bankruptcy petitions, a significant portion of which are filed pro se.
Bankruptcy Clinic volunteers who are not experienced bankruptcy attorneys must attend one of the clinic’s twice-yearly training sessions. The trainings feature a discussion on the basic skills used to interview a prospective client, prepare bankruptcy schedules, and represent a debtor through a Chapter 7 proceeding. Additional topics include a summary of the Fair Debt Collection Act summary; case screening and evaluation; automatic stays; completion of schedules; exemptions; discharge provisions; and ethics and conflicts of interest issues. For more information or to register, view the list of upcoming trainings. All volunteers must be members in good standing of the D.C. Bar or the bar of another U.S. jurisdiction.
Volunteer attorneys have access to mentors, training manuals and other materials available on www.probono.net/DC/bankruptcy, support of Pro Bono Center staff, use of bankruptcy preparation software, and client meeting space. The Pro Bono Center provides malpractice insurance for cases handled through the Bankruptcy Clinic.
Members of the public with bankruptcy concerns should attend one of the Pro Bono Center’s Advice and Referral Clinics.