Why this site exists
As a coauthor of Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, (now in its 16th edition) I've spent years trying to make filing for bankruptcy as easy and non-threatening as possible. In 2005, the US Congress enacted sweeping changes to the bankruptcy law to make filing for bankruptcy considerably more costly and intimidating. When this law was passed, I vowed to do something about it. This site is the result.
I believe that anyone considering bankruptcy should be able to quickly and easily learn about the full range of resources available them -- free information, low cost high quality books, online services, forms preparation services, and full service bankruptcy lawyers. I've attempted to gather and organize all that information and present it in one place.
The new bankruptcy law makes it even more important that you get accurate information before you act. The new law sticks it to debtors in several ways, primarily by making the process of filing for bankruptcy more expensive, more cumbersome, and less forgiving. There are more forms, less flexible deadlines, and more ways to screw up. In some cases, a creditor has the right to demand that the judge automatically dismiss your bankruptcy case if you miss a single filing requirement.
Even with all of these new rules, bankruptcy still offers extremely powerful legal rights to debtors who qualify. Consequently, it's vital that you become fully informed of your legal rights and obligations as a debtor who is considering bankruptcy. I hope this site helps you do that.
I also realize, as an author, that books are great -- you can write notes in the margin, attach post-its, and they don't need a battery, or a computer or wi-fi to work. But providing detailed 50 state information in a book can get rather unwieldy.
So, this website provides a way to deliver certain types of information in more detail, on a local level -- about specific things things like the means test and state exemptions -- that are not possible with a book.
But this website is not a substitute for the book, or for a lawyer. It only covers a few specific topics and cannot give advice about whether bankruptcy is the best choice for someone in your particular financial circumstances.
Who's behind it
This site is more or less a one-man show (with a little help from friends). I'm the owner of RelationalVision,LLC that operates the site, and am the designer, writer, and programmer; a computer geek. I'm a lawyer but on inactive status - (I don't take individual cases) and a member of the California Bar.
I earned my law degree and was a Law Review editor at the University of Michigan Law School (Go Blue!).
After Justice Bird lost her confirmation election in 1986, I wanted to make an honest living using computers to make the legal system more accessible. With that in mind, I began a fruitful 17-year relationship with the great folks at Nolo, the pioneering do-it-yourself legal publisher in Berkeley, California. At Nolo, I researched, edited and wrote law books, developed legal software, managed the Nolo website (and won a Webby Award!), and developed a keen interest in exploring new ways to harness the power of internet technology and relational databases as a way to make legal information more accessible.
In 2004 I left Nolo and launched the LegalConsumer.com website to pursue new, experimental ways to "mash-up" Internet technology with relational databases to deliver high-quality, useful, localized legal information to consumers. The topic of bankruptcy, was a natural subject to start with given my 15+ years as a coauthor of Nolo's book on Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Although I live in California, my Midwestern roots run deep. I grew up in the Detroit area and am a fanatical Detroit Tigers fan. Being raised in a working class family in the so-called "rust belt," and then attending an elite college and law school, gave me a personal view of two very different worlds.
I realize that the legal system is too expensive for many people. That's why I wrote books and software for Nolo for 17 years. That's why I made this website. If you decide to hire a lawyer (and that is a sensible option for many) I hope this website helps you choose wisely.
Best of luck in dealing with your financial troubles. It's an important task for you and your family. It's good that you are making the effort to learn about your options. You can get through this. I hope this site makes that task a little easier.
Albin Renauer, RelationalVision, LLC
coauthor of How to File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (Nolo)