Bankruptcy Attorney in Shreveport
Bankruptcy is a difficult and demanding process. Often, when bankruptcy becomes necessary, it is the result of some unforeseen event or external circumstance.
Bankruptcy is not a “quick fix” and can involve some very complicated areas of law. For the most part, federal law governs bankruptcy in the United States, although several states have peculiarities unique to those states.
Because bankruptcy law is mostly federal, the American Board of Certification was created to develop an examination and set of standards that can be used nationwide to measure an attorney‘s competence in bankruptcy law.
Some states have laws that prevent an attorney for advertising legal specialties. Ask if your attorney is certified by the American Board of Certification. If you are interested in obtaining the names of certified consumer and business bankruptcy attorneys in your area, or in obtaining a free directory of certified specialties, please contact the ABC.
For more information on bankruptcy, see the “Consumer Center” on the American Bankruptcy Institute’s home page. Also see the “Online Bookstore.”
“We Are A Debt Relief Agency, We Help People File For Bankruptcy Relief Under The Bankruptcy Code.”
Board Certifications in Bankruptcy Law
What Does Board Certification Mean? It means that the certified attorney has met rigorous, objective standards and has demonstrated knowledge in bankruptcy law. Hiring an attorney with experience in any specialized field of law can be a bewildering experience. As a client, you want to make sure your counsel is experienced in the particular field. Unfortunately, prospective clients usually have little objective criteria on which to rely.
The American Board of Certifications (ABC) programs are designed to identify and recognize those attorneys in consumer or business bankruptcy who have met or exceeded rigorous certification standards relating to experience, continuing legal education, integrity and peer review in addition to demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of bankruptcy law.
The goal of the ABC is to provide meaningful information to those seeking bankruptcy law services to enable them to make informed decisions in selecting experienced bankruptcy counsel.
What is the ABC?
The American Board of Certification is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the public and improving the quality of the bankruptcy bar. It is the only national bankruptcy certification program, offering certification in business and consumer bankruptcy law and creditor’s rights law.
The ABC’s Business and Consumer Bankruptcy Certification Programs are accredited by the American Bar Association. The ABC is sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Commercial Law League of America. The ABC Board of Directors consists of many of the nation’s finest bankruptcy and creditors’ rights lawyers, former judges and law professors.
ABC certification encourages bankruptcy attorneys to strive toward excellence and recognizes those attorneys who have met the ABC’s rigorous standards.
How High Are the Certification Standards? To become certified as a bankruptcy attorney by the ABC, an applicant must successfully complete a comprehensive day-long written examination covering (1) general bankruptcy law, (2) legal ethics and (3) business or consumer bankruptcy. In addition, each applicant must show significant experience in bankruptcy law matters and substantial dedication of their practice to such matters as well as providing professional references and participating in at least 60 hours of continuous legal education over a three-year period.
Recertification: Initial certification is for a period of up to five years, after which certified bankruptcy attorneys must show that they continue to have an active bankruptcy practice, have participated in continuing legal education, have good standing in the legal profession and can provide peer references.
You Have a Choice: When you are considering hiring a bankruptcy attorney, you have a right to know which attorneys have met the ABC’s stringent standards. Why settle for anything less?
Frequently Asked Questions
Isn't there more than one kind of bankruptcy?
Congress has devised two kinds of bankruptcy: liquidation and reorganization.
Liquidation bankruptcy is called Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 case, you cancel, or discharge, certain types of debts in exchange for giving up certain types of property to be sold for the benefit of your creditors. As distressing as this may sound, many debtors are able to hang on to property they need to get on with their lives. You should consult a lawyer for a better idea of what property you could keep if you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If there are no problems, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes approximately 120 to 130 days from petition date to discharge date.
An individual who is a consumer, or who operates a small business, may qualify for a reorganization pursuant to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this type of bankruptcy, you use your income to pay some or all of what you owe to your creditors over time, between 3 to 5 years depending upon the terms of your plan.
An individual who is a family farmer may reorganize his debts through a Chapter 12 bankruptcy. Our firm represents family farmers in bankruptcy, and it is best for these farmers to discuss their financial problems with us.
A business company, partnership or an individual in business may reorganize debts through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Our firm represents distressed businesses in bankruptcy, and it is best for these businesses to discuss their financial problems with us.
Will filing for bankruptcy stop the harassing phone calls?
If you are eligible, you may file a bankruptcy case and something called an “automatic stay” goes into effect. The automatic stay prohibits virtually all creditors from taking any action to collect the debts you owe them unless the bankruptcy court lifts the stay and lets the creditor proceed with collections.
Will bankruptcy wipe out all my debts?
Different debts get different treatment in bankruptcy proceedings. Some debts may be wiped out (discharged) while some others won't be. Plus, rules are different for Chapter 7 versus Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
Which debts are not dischargeable in chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Certain debts are automatically non-dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include:
- Debts or creditors you omit
- Student loans, unless repaying would cause you an undue hardship
- Recent federal, state and local taxes
- Child support, alimony and property settlements
- Fines, penalties or restitution imposed by the government
- Court fees
- Debts for the death of, or personal injury to, someone resulting from your intoxicated driving
- Debts you couldn't discharge in a previous bankruptcy because of your fraud or other bad acts
If you are eligible, other debts may be discharged unless the creditors object during the case and prove that the debt fits in one of the following categories:
- Debts from fraud, including $550 or more to one creditor for luxury goods or services incurred within 90 days before filing or cash advances totaling more than $550 taken within 90 days of filing
- Debts from willful and malicious acts
- Debts from embezzlement, larceny or breach of fiduciary duty
- Debts from a divorce decree or marital settlement agreement if you have the ability to pay the debt or if discharging the debt would result in a detriment to your former spouse that would outweigh the benefit to you
Will I lose my house?
One of the biggest worries you may face in considering filing for bankruptcy is the possible loss of your home. Louisiana allows you a $35,000 homestead exemption on your home. The value in your home which exceeds the mortgage debt on your home plus $35,000 is “equity” that is subject to the claims of your creditors. If there is “equity” in your home which is subject to the claims of your creditors, then a Chapter 13 would allow you to keep your home and pay at least this equity sum to your creditors. If there is not “equity” in your home which is subject to the claims of your creditors, then a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may work for you.
If you are behind on your mortgage payments, you will almost certainly lose your house if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your mortgage lender will ask the bankruptcy court to lift the automatic stay to begin or resume foreclosure proceedings.
If you are eligible and you are behind on your mortgage payments, you will be allowed in a Chapter 13 to cure the mortgage arrearage with a monthly payment in addition to the normal monthly mortgage payments, which is calculated to cure the default in the mortgage payments during the term of the plan.
Renting and Bankruptcy. If you are current on your rent payments and file for bankruptcy, it's unlikely your landlord would ever evict you for filing bankruptcy. But if you are behind in your rent, there's a good chance that your landlord will begin eviction proceedings to get you out. Your inclination may be to file for bankruptcy just to get the automatic stay in place to stop the eviction. This will work but not for very long. Expect your landlord to come into court to have the stay lifted, which is likely to be granted.
There are benefits and detriments to any bankruptcy, and you should seek professional counseling before filing a bankruptcy. Ralph Scott Bowie is a board-certified consumer bankruptcy attorney and a board-certified business bankruptcy attorney, certified by both the American Board of Certification and the Louisiana Bar Association Board of Legal Specialization. When you are considering hiring a bankruptcy attorney in Shreveport, you have a right to know which attorneys have met the stringent standards for certification as an attorney. Why settle for anything less? Call us in Shreveport at 318-221-0600, or if you are out of town call us on our toll free number 1-800-256-9470 for an initial free consultation to discuss options in bankruptcy to resolve your problems.
Ralph Scott Bowie Jr.,
…referred to as Scott by family and friends, was admitted to bar, 1983, Louisiana 1984, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana; 1989, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Education: Louisiana Tech University (BS, Chemical Engineering, cum laude, 1973); University of West Florida (MBA, 1978; B.A. Accounting, 1980); Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge (Juris Doctorate 1983). Member of engineering honorary societies of Tau Beta Pi and Omega Chi Epsilon. Licensed Professional Chemical Engineer, Louisiana, 1978. US. Bankruptcy Trustee for Chapter 12 Filings, Shreveport Division, 1987 to 1992. Served as a Member of Bankruptcy Rules Committee in 1988, Western District of Louisiana. Member Shreveport Bar Associations and Louisiana State Bar Associations; American Bar Association; American Bankruptcy Institute; American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Scott is a partner in the law firm of Bowie & Beresko, APLC in Shreveport, Louisiana, and practices in the areas of bankruptcy, insolvency, commercial law, corporate law, banking law, environmental law and personal injury.
Before law school, Scott worked seven years as a process chemical engineer in the manufacturing of nylon at Monsanto Chemical Corporation in Pensacola, Florida. Scott resigned his job as a senior process engineer with Monsanto Chemical Company to attend law school at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Scott maintains his license as a professional chemical engineer and occasionally has the opportunity to work on chemical engineering projects.
- American Board of Certification
- Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization