When I was younger, before my professional identity had taken shape, and I knew the mark I wanted to leave on this world, I met several people touched by huge financial challenges. These were good, hardworking folks who, through bad luck or careless error, found themselves struggling to make ends meet.
Their financial problems bled over into other areas of their lives, prompting tears, embarrassment, the breakdown of relationships, and depression. Seeing these proud people in such a state left an indelible impression on me and inspired my journey to be of service.
I saw how the banks and big money interests took advantage of these people. They were not all destitute people. Most were hard working middle class people like most of us.
My view of this came from a unique position because my father was banker and entrepreneur. Dad was a person of fair dealing and worked in a small, hometown banks and S&Ls. From this position I was able to understand how things work from both sides. I also know that the big banks will attempt to run over you even if you are upper middle to upper class. They don't care and it is especially bad the lower down the economic chain you are.
If you've been touched by financial crisis, or you've seen a loved one dragged through the ringer, you understand.
For instance, take John and Becky. They had just closed on their dream house and moved in with their twin five year olds and pet Bichon Frise, Elsa, when two devastating setbacks hit them within just eight days. First, Becky, the primary breadwinner, wrenched her back while unpacking a heavy box from the move and found herself out of work for at least 6 months. Then John discovered that his business partner had cheated a vendor, who decided to sue for six figures. John hadn't yet set up a corporate entity for his partnership, so suddenly his personal assets were at play.
John and Becky had to confront the very real possibility that they'd lose their house, and they'd have to move back in with Becky's mother. Or what about Bernice, a 72-year-old retired woman who, after tragically losing her partner of 40 years to cancer, was victimized by insurance fraud, which depleted her savings and effectively wiped out her safety net.
Mandy, a 26-year-old entrepreneur, racked up $50,000 in credit card debt trying to get her online business off the ground. Barely able to keep up with the monthly payments, she developed crippling anxiety from the harassing calls from debt collectors and grew afraid of ever answering the phone.
Then there was John. He had a good job with a large regional bank. As he worked he found himself in an ever increasingly political battle to keep his job. In evident that upper management was inclined to get rid of mid to lower level managers such as himself in order to hire younger, cheaper people.
After John's parents became ill and needed him to look after them, he left his job. Thinking he would have no problem finding a good job later. Regardless of the reasons that did not happen. The best John could do was a $10 an hour job. Luckily John was married, so was able to live but not very well. John needed help.
I became a bankruptcy attorney to serve people like these - good people who need protection from negative forces that they do not understand and do not have the skills or knowledge to control.
Ever since I started doing bankruptcy work, I've discovered it to be not just a rewarding pursuit but also a spiritual one, because I see it as a tangible opportunity to give back to the community and help people escape pain.
Being a successful bankruptcy attorney requires more than just intellectually understanding the law and having the skill to identify and deploy the right strategies at the right time to fight creditors and protect essential assets. This work also requires the ability to empathize and to connect with people.
My clients have been through heartrending situations, and I am proud to be able to provide people the connection and reassurance they need.
Why Do I Have So Much Passion for Helping People with Bankruptcy?
Every day I come to work is a great day. I get to meet hardworking, earnest and dedicated people who are stuck but also hopeful. My clients come to me in pain. They are ashamed that they can't pay their bills. They are frustrated that they can't support their families and give their children the lives they deserve. They are scared socially, dreading upcoming high school reunions or chance encounters with exes at a supermarket. And they are exhausted from the harassing calls and scary letters from creditors.
Many of my clients live in a perpetual touch-and-go state. It's month-to-month or sometimes even day-to-day.
That I know how to relieve their pain, stop the phone calls, and reclaim their natural dignity makes what I do both an honor and privilege. It's why I get up the morning. It's why everyone on my team busts their humps.
I love to save people's houses from foreclosure. It makes what I do rewarding because nothing is more rewarding than to see the relief on people's faces when I tell them they no longer have to worry about the foreclosure, usually scheduled for the next day.
What I Do in a Nutshell: Offer Good People a Release from Stress, Shame, Fear and Uncertainty
When my clients first see-me, they get instant relief in that very first meeting. Why? It's not necessarily because of anything I say or do - the strategies I lay out for them, the action plan, etc. Rather, the relief comes because I sit there and listen attentively.
In my opinion, people these days are starved for empathy - for the need to "feel felt." This is especially true for folks who've been through the wringer, who've confronted demons in multiple areas of their lives - financial, medical, psychological, and spiritual.
I listen to them and just let them share their stories. I always keep a box of Kleenex handy, because this cathartic retelling often leads spontaneously to tears. There are the tears of finally being able to express oneself fully after months or years of holding back and "sucking it up" to put on a brave face to the world.
All too often, when people come to others for help with problems, the response tends to be intellectual and distant. We sympathize, diagnose, tell stories about ourselves, and offer "practical" solutions. Obviously, at some point, we need to get to the nuts and bolts. But first, the person in pain needs to feel understood.
If you're raising two kids at home with another on the way, and you're in credit card debt, and then you get into a car accident... sure, you want practical insight. But you also need someone just to acknowledge the scope of your challenge. And when I do that, I immediately notice a shift and a sense of release, because my clients know they're no longer dealing with this alone and in a vacuum.
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