Client Intake Interview Tips for Bankruptcy Attorneys and VBAs
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seminar August 10th & 11th!
The information below will help attorneys as well as VBAs to
polish their skills throughout the bankruptcy petition
It is your job to drive the petition process, both with the
debtor, and the attorney.
Being polite with the debtor goes a long way towards getting you
the information you need, but sometimes it becomes necessary to
get a little stern with them, in order to get them to do what you
need them to, in order to get the information you need to get
your job done.
Tell it how it is. Do not let the debtor or attorney sway you to
do something different than what you know should be done.
Training is great, and will be a continuous thing, but nothing
can teach you like the real thing. The debtor often knows less
than you think they do. If there are five different ways to ask
for the same piece of missing information, you will likely have
to use all five of them before you get what you need.
When debtors come back to you with missing information, they
often only have half of it, and you have to keep resending them
back to get the rest of the information, until you have it all.
Do not forget to do your own bit of gumshoe detective work (i.e.,
with Google), to uncover undisclosed assets.
It is amazing to us how upside-down a person can get with their
finances. We thought we lacked in good money management skills
until we started doing bankruptcy petitions.
Keep your contact with the debtor friendly and empathetic, yet
professional. Do not try to be their friend but rather a
professional at all times.
If at all possible, get the facts all at once. Piecing together
client intake information one piece of information at a time is a
lot of work and wastes a great deal of time. Insist that the
debtor fill out the forms COMPLETELY, before starting to work on
the petition. This means that you need to review the forms
before starting up the software program and make sure you have
everything before starting.
You must decide how much work you are willing to do for the
debtor. For example, are you willing to chase down information
that is missing for them, or are you going to insist that the
debtor do for themselves? This is not our bankruptcy filing, so
doing the work for themselves is the preferred method. No one
knows about their debts better than the debtors themselves.
Keeping the attorney in the know every step of the way keeps
him/her very happy with your work. As VBAs we should always
strive for happy attorneys which will result in repeat business!
When it comes to drafting a bankruptcy petition, credit reports
are not worth the paper they are printed on. They can be used to
verify certain information if necessary, but NEVER try to use
them to populate the schedules of the bankruptcy petition.
Debtors often do not seem to grasp the seriousness of their
situation, and unfortunately, we cannot really do anything to
help them see this because we are not attorneys. This is one
important reason why you need to maintain contact with your
attorney at all times. When the attorney understands the
situation, he or she can properly advise the client. The job of
a VBA is to gather this information so the attorney can make an
informed decision, nothing more.
Once the debtor understands how dire their situation is they are
much more cooperative. Therefore, it often takes a call from the
attorney to get the debtor on the ball to provide you with the
information you need to complete the preparation of the
Do not be surprised by the crazy things debtors have done, even
right up to retaining the attorney, that have resulted in them
being in the situation they are in. Just be glad you are not in
their shoes and have sympathy for them. Remember, we work on the
DEBTOR side, not the CREDITOR. If you have no concern for the
average consumer perhaps you may want to consider working on the
Do not do the attorneys job for him/her, even if they ask you to.
They are the one with the education and license and they need to
direct your work. Under no circumstance should you ever perform
the functions of an attorney. If the attorney needs a legal
question answered he or she can consult with another attorney in
their area for advice. It is not the job of the VBA to provide
attorney level services at VBA prices.
Petitions for self-employed debtors are more difficult than for
debtors who are not self-employed. Make certain to consider this
when making price quotes to attorneys for VBA services.
Debtors are so busy trying to keep up with the Jones; they often
do not even know what they have. Example: A client tells you
that they have a 1999 vehicle when it is really a 1994. Or,
their handwriting is hard to read. 713Training.Com team teaches
students a wide variety of tips for VBAs to help them self-check
their work so that problems like these are minimized; but it
takes time to learn all these insider tricks and they cannot be
Do your very best to prepare an accurate petition, but at the end
of the day, you have to hope the debtor has done their part to
help you do your job properly, so that you can best help them and
protect their attorney in the best way you can. Most of all have
fun and feel good that you helped someone, as well as providing
an additional income stream for your family.
The 713 Training Team
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DISCLAIMER: We at 713 Training are not attorneys; any information
provided by 713 Training should not be considered legal advice.
The information in this article, and any other materials provided
by 713 Training, whether delivered verbally, written or via any
other means, including electronic/digital delivery and storage,
is for training purposes only, and is intended for individuals
who work under the direction of a licensed attorney.
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