College Columns May 2022 - Page 5

bootmaker explained to me that the depression had wiped out his business and he owed a bunch of money to the bank . He reluctantly told me that he needed to close his shop , layoff his two employees and go out of business . He didn ’ t know what he would do next to support his family . I decided I would help him .” Surprised , I said , “ How ?”
Mr . Smith continued : “ Are you familiar with Texas exemption laws ?” I was a little . I wasn ’ t too far removed from studying for the Texas Bar Exam , but I didn ’ t know where he was going . It wasn ’ t long until I would learn more about Texas ’ very generous exemptions to protect property from claims by creditors . The lore is that the early Texas settlers who wrote the Texas Constitution came to Texas to escape their creditors in other states and wanted to protect their assets . Among the assets an individual may exempt from claims of creditors are a homestead , clothing , home furnishings , two horses , twelve head of cattle , two firearms ( its Texas y ’ all ) and the tools of their trade . “ Well , the fella had none of these things except his bootmaking equipment ,” said Mr . Smith .
Mr . Smith filed bankruptcy for his friend . His friend emerged from bankruptcy with a discharge of his debts and the tools of his trade : his bootmaking tools . Mr . Smith said he did not charge the bootmaker for helping him out of a tough spot and hoped he would have a fresh start .
Mr . Smith got up quietly and before he walked out the door , he turned and asked me if I knew who his friend was ? I said I had no idea . Mr . Smith smiled and said with a glint in his eye , “ Well , the next time you slip on a pair of Tony Lama Boots , you might want to think about the benefits of bankruptcy .”
Tony Lama boots have been worn for
decades by Presidents , Movie Stars , Country and Western Singers , Cowboys and Cowgirls , and from time to time , a lawyer or two . Following his bankruptcy , Tony Lama was able to rebuild his business , employ thousands of workers and make millions of boots . He is also an example that bankruptcy relief can give individuals and borrowers a path to recover from financial ruin .
From that day forward I knew that I could do some good as a bankruptcy professional and that I was joining a profession . As Fellows of the College , we all have that moment when we became dedicated to the Mission of the College , the Enhancement of Professionalism , Scholarship and Service in Bankruptcy Insolvency Law and Practice . I have been able to walk in These Old Boots for over forty years as a bankruptcy lawyer and I am honored to be President of the College . If you have a story to tell about how you became a bankruptcy professional and what inspires you , tell me yours ?