Consumer and Bankruptcy Unit

Bankruptcy

The Bankruptcy law unit assists clients in gaining a fresh financial start through bankruptcy discharge. VLP staff represents clients seeking relief from debt through consumer bankruptcy under both Chapter 7 (liquidation) and Chapter 13 (wage earner) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. In addition, VLP recruits, trains and mentors private attorneys who take these cases on a pro bono basis. In preparation for filing, VLP assists clients with gathering all documents and information necessary for the case at clinics.


Bankruptcy Clinics

Some of VLP's most vulnerable clients have a difficult time applying for bankruptcy assistance because of the amount of information and paperwork required to complete their file.  VLP holds a bankruptcy clinic once a month to assist low-income clients with the process of completing our application and gathering the required documents.  VLP is looking for volunteer attorneys, paralegals and law students to staff these clinics.

Interns, Volunteers students and paralegals have the opportunity to assist potential clients with document and information collection.  They gather documents and provide the information needed to prepare their cases for pro bono referral. Some examples of the documents needed are credit reports, income and benefit information, asset information and tax returns. including accessing credit reports and completing counseling and education requirements. Interns also assist staff in preparing bankruptcy petitions and schedules and attend Section 341 Meetings of Creditors.

This clinic is a great introduction to bankruptcy practice for volunteers. including getting their “credit reports” and getting court required debtor counseling and education

 

Consumer

The consumer law unit handles a range of matters including, debt collection defense, Fair Debt Collection violations, Fair Credit Reporting violations, credit repair, and bankruptcy discharge violations.  Much of this work is done through the Fair Debt Collection Lawyer for the Day clinics operated at the Boston Municipal Court, Cambridge District Court and Quincy District Court. The consumer unit also runs monthly Discovery Clinics at the VLP office.

At the clinics, volunteer attorneys represent defendants in debt collection suits who have hearings on that day. Volunteers also perform eligibility screening and intake interviews for prospective bankruptcy clients.
 
Interns in the consumer law unit assist with intake and screening at the clinics, with preparing those same cases for referral to the private bar for full representation, and assisting with the monthly Discovery Clinic at VLP.  The intern may also have research projects that flow from active cases.