Consumer Bankruptcy Journal Summer 2016 - Page 12

THE NACBA CONVENTION EXPERIENCE

By Grace B . Pazdan , Consumer Rights Attorney with Vermont Legal Aid

I

had the great honor of attending NACBA ’ s 24th Annual Convention in San Francisco , CA this May as the Henry Sommer Legal Aid Scholarship recipient . This was my first time both attending a NACBA conference and visiting San Francisco , and neither experience disappointed ! My first day in the City by the Bay began with a leisurely stroll along the Embarcadero and was highlighted by a climb to the top of Coit Tower – which offered majestic 360 degree views of the city and bay in all its glory on a perfectly sunny California afternoon . The NACBA conference made an equally impactful first impression , as the event was kicked off with a vibrant Japanese taiko drumming performing . I can honestly say , I have never been so entertained at a CLE program !
As a legal aid lawyer that has largely focused her practice on foreclosure defense and consumer rights over the past eight years , I had always been interested in bankruptcy law and the promise of a fresh start that it offers lowincome and other vulnerable debtors struggling under crushing debt loads they can never repay . Out of necessity , I pieced together the basics , essentially enough to know when to refer a client to a “ real ” bankruptcy attorney .
Roughly a year ago , Vermont Legal Aid decided that there were extremely lowincome clients in need of bankruptcy assistance whose needs could not be met by our reduced-fee bankruptcy referral service . Consequently , I started taking bankruptcy referrals from other attorneys in the agency , and have filed a handful of Chapter 7s primarily to prevent public housing evictions and protect victims of domestic violence and other vulnerable debtors . In the short time that I have been filing bankruptcies , I have spent many an afternoon sidled up to the NCLC Bankruptcy Practice Manual ( co-authored by none other than Henry J . Sommer himself ) and have been fortunate to find private bankruptcy attorneys that are gracious enough to return my panicked calls when an issue arises in a case . However , as someone who has spent the last eight years practicing almost exclusively in state court , practicing in bankruptcy court often feels like visiting a foreign country where the locals speak a different language and have their own set of customs that seem strange to the uninitiated . Spending three days learning the language and interacting with the locals at the NACBA conference provided me with just the immersion experience I needed to start feeling comfortable in the culture of bankruptcy practice .
Two of the conference sessions that I attended were particularly relevant to my practice as a legal services attorney . The first was “ Intro to Tax and Bankruptcy .” At Vermont Legal Aid , we have a federal tax grant that funds an attorney to advocate for and represent low-income taxpayers in disputes with the IRS . On a number of occasions , our tax attorney has contacted me to determine if a taxpayer she is working with might be able to resolve tax debt most effectively with a bankruptcy . Up until this point , as a very green bankruptcy lawyer , I simply felt too uncertain about my own analysis of the complex discharge rules around tax debt . Talk about speaking a foreign language : three-year rule , two-year rule , 240-day rule , oh my ! So , instead of advising the client or taking the case , I would simply refer her to a seasoned private bankruptcy lawyer . The “ Intro to Tax and Bankruptcy ” seminar demystified the code and case law around tax-debt discharge giving me the confidence boost I need to spot the issues and give competent advice the next time a case with tax debt issues comes my way .
The other session that was right
12 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY JOURNAL Summer 2016 National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
THE NACBA CONVENTION EXPERIENCE By Grace B. Pazdan, Consumer Rights Attorney with Vermont Legal Aid I had the great honor of attending NACBA’s 24th Annual Convention in San Francisco, CA this May as the Henry Sommer Legal Aid Scholarship recipient. This was my first time both attending a NACBA conference and visiting San Francisco, and neither experience disappointed! My first day in the City by the Bay began with a leisurely stroll along the Embarcadero and was highlighted by a climb to the top of Coit Tower – which offered majestic 360 degree views of the city and bay in all its glory on a perfectly sunny California afternoon. The NACBA conference made an equally impactful first impression, as the event was kicked off with a vibrant Japanese taiko drumming performing. I can honestly say, I have never been so entertained at a CLE program! As a legal aid lawyer that has largely focused her practice on foreclosure defense and consumer rights over the past eight years, I had always been interested in bankruptcy law and the promise of a fresh start that it offers lowincome and other vulnerable debtors struggling under crushing debt loads they can never repay. Out of necessity, I pieced together the basics, essentially enough to know when to refer a client to a “real” bankruptcy attorney. 12 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY JOURNAL Roughly a year ago, Vermont Legal Aid decided that there were extremel 䁱ݥ́э)ͥхݡ͔́ձЁ)Ё䁽ȁɕՍэ)ɕɅ͕٥ ͕Օѱ䰁$хѕ)хэɕɅ́ɽѡ)ѽɹ́ѡ䰁ٔ)հ ѕȀ́ɥɥѼ)ɕٕЁՉͥ٥ѥ́)ɽѕЁ٥ѥ́ѥ٥)ѡȁձɅѽ̸%ѡ͡)ѥѡЁ$ٔэ̰)$ٔЁ䁅ѕɹͥ)Ѽѡ9 1 эAɅѥ)5Յѡɕ䁹ѡ)ѡ!(Mȁ͕)ٔչєѼɥمє)э䁅ѽɹ́ѡЁɔɅ)՝Ѽɕɸ)ݡՔɥ͕͔́)!ݕٕȰ́ͽݡ́)ѡЁЁ啅́Ʌѥ)፱ٕͥ䁥хєаɅѥ)э䁍Ёѕ́٥ͥѥ)ɕչݡɔѡ)ɕЁՅٔ)ѡȁݸ͕Ёѽ́ѡЁ͕)ɅѼѡչѥѕM)ѡɕ́ɹѡՅ)ѕɅѥݥѠѡ́Ёѡ9 )ɕɽ٥ݥѠЁѡ)ͥɥ$Ѽх)хѡձɔ)MյȀ$$$()эɅѥ)Qݼѡɕ͕ͥ́ѡ)$ѕݕɔѥձɱɕم)ѼɅѥ͕́٥)ѽɹ丁QЁ݅̃q%ɼѼQ) э今tЁYɵЁ1ݔ)ٔɅхɅЁѡЁչ́)ѽɹѼٽєȁɕɕ͕)ܵх́ѕ́ݥѠ)ѡ%IL=յȁ̰ͥ)ȁхѽɹ䁡́хѕѼ)ѕɵхȁ́͡ݽɭ)ݥѠЁѼɕͽٔх)ЁѥٕݥѠэ)Uչѥѡ́аٕ́䁝ɕ)э䁱Ȱ$ͥ䁙Ёѽ)չхЁ䁽ݸͥ́)ѡ͍ɝձ́ɽչ)хиQЁɕ)Յѡɕ啅ȁձݼ啅)ձձ䄁Mѕ)٥ͥѡЁȁхѡ͔)$ݽձͥɕȁȁѼ͕ͽ)ɥمєэ䁱ȸQq%ɼ)ѼQ эt͕)ѥѡ͔)ɽչх൑Ё͍ɝ٥)ѡЁ$ѼЁѡ)Օ́ٔѕЁ٥ѡ)Ёѥ͔ݥѠхЁՕ)́݅)Qѡȁ͕ͥѡЁ݅́ɥ()9ѥͽѥ յȁ эѽɹ((0