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The Pro Bono Consumer Bankruptcy Project Publishes a New Consumer Pamphlet for Pro Se Debtors

by CBJC Staff December 13, 2013

The City Bar Justice Center’s Pro Bono Consumer Bankruptcy Project provides direct advice or assistance on personal bankruptcy to hundreds of low-income debtors each year.  However, hundreds of other debtors are unable to obtain this help and must file a pro se bankruptcy without any professional assistance or guidance. The Project tries to reach out and provide education to these debtors by conducting bankruptcy workshops and providing educational materials such as the guidebook “Personal Bankruptcy: Is It Right for You?”

Unfortunately, many of these pro se filers run into issues and complications they are unable to deal with on their own. Some of these problems can lead to a case being dismissed or an otherwise unsatisfactory outcome for the debtor. A typical problem would be the need for a debtor to enter into a Reaffirmation Agreement with a creditor in order to preserve a necessary piece of property; this might involve the preservation of an automobile being financed by the debtor and needed to get to work.  Pro Se debtors often do not understand the conditions or consequences involved in such agreements, and the judges must spend time and effort explaining these to the debtor.

When several judges in the Southern and Eastern District reached out to the Project to see if we could produce an educational pamphlet for pro se debtors explaining Reaffirmation Agreements, we collaborated with the Pro Bono Subcommittee of the New York City Bar Committee on Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization to write a pamphlet called “Bankruptcy: Understanding Reaffirmation Agreements.”  The subcommittee sought input from a variety of sources, including bankruptcy judges and experienced bankruptcy attorneys in order to produce a comprehensive and informative pamphlet. With the help of a grant from the Eastern District Civil Litigation Fund, Inc., the Project was able to publish and distribute 2,000 copies of the pamphlet. Most of the copies have gone to the Clerk’s Offices of the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. They are being made available free of charge to pro se debtors who need the information. An electronic version is also available to the general public on the City Bar Justice Center’s website.

The information in this pamphlet will make it easier for pro se debtors to make informed decisions about how to proceed when they are confronted with demands by creditors to enter into a Reaffirmation Agreement. This will lead to a better outcome and a true “fresh start” for the debtors.

Download “Bankruptcy: Understanding Reaffirmation Agreements” here: http://bit.ly/1eauqcD


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