The Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has modified their procedures to make filing bankruptcy as flexible as it has ever been. When I began practicing bankruptcy law over 25 years ago, the typical procedure would require that the client come to my office for an initial meeting, fill out a lengthy disclosure form, supply approximately ten documents and then schedule another appointment for a meeting at my office. My office would prepare the bankruptcy petition and oftentimes have it filed in person by a courier, who would drive it 20 miles to Center City, Philadelphia. The creditors’ meeting (or 341 meeting), which occurs approximately 30 days after a bankruptcy filing, would require an appearance in Center City to meet with an court appointed Trustee. The commute and the meeting would exceed three hours.
The process of filing bankruptcy was largely unchanged for the last 25 years. However, with the presence of Covid-19 and the social distancing protocols required by the government and instituted by the Bankruptcy Court, filing bankruptcy is relatively easy.
Nowadays, clients have the option of initially discussing the case with me either by telephone, Zoom or in person. Prior to meeting in my office, my office will send a short e-mail to my prospective clients requesting approximately five or six documents. No lengthy disclosure forms are required. The clients will bring the documents to the meeting in my office or, at their discretion, scan and email them to me (or drop off at my office or mail) if they prefer a Zoom meeting. The creditor’s meeting that used to take approximately 3-4 hours now has been reduced to a 10-minute Zoom video conference. My clients can attend the Zoom video conference from the comfort and safety of their own homes. I also appear on the Zoom video conference and provide the same experienced representation.
Over the last several months, I have had many clients who prefer to meet with me by way of Zoom and attend the creditor’s meeting via Zoom from their home. Absolutely, no in person-to-person contact whatsoever. Many enjoy the safety and simplicity of the new protocols. On the other hand, if my clients prefer NOT to use Zoom, then they arrive at my office for all meetings and I will use my Zoom account to attend the creditors’ meeting.
I anticipate that these procedures will be in place for the foreseeable future and will likely change the processes of the past.
Should you be in need of bankruptcy services, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached by telephone (610-992-1300) or email [email protected]. My office is fully staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.