Recently at one of the Riverisde Division Trustee Lynda Bui’s meetings of creditors Ms. Bui, she called a debtors name and the couple went up to the front of the room. The couple told the trustee that their attorney was not there and they would like to wait for her. The Trustee put the matter on second call.
About 45 minutes later, Trustee Bui called the matter again and the clients said the attorney had not showed up. Trustee Bui said to call the law office. The trustee then went onto other hearings. The third time Trustee Bui called the case, the couple went up to the front and told her that the attorney said she was not going to appear today. The Trustee asked why and the debtors did not know.
Trustee Bui continued the case at that point. The clients had paid for an attorney and the trustee wanted to ask the attorney why she chose not to show up. In addition, the matter may be referred to the US Trustee’s office for investigation on these abandoned clients.
Some bankruptcy lawyers only prepare the petition for the clients. This is allowed if the scope of appearance clearly states that the attorney will not attend the meeting of creditors. These clients are usually charged a discount rate and attend the hearing without an attorney.
The debtors today though had paid full price for a bankruptcy and the lawyer had said in the petition that she would be there. If she could not be there, then she should have called a special appearance attorney (like me!) to stand in her place.
Bankruptcy Education Pointer: If you cannot make it to the hearing with the client, send another attorney or ask for a continuance. It may be that today’s lawyer has a reasonable explanation, but now she and clients have to come back next months to sort out the matter in front of the trustee. This will not help the clients’ perception of their attorney as she left them hanging there this morning.
When it comes time for the clients to give a referral of a good attorney to their family or friends, the absent attorney will not get the recommendation.