When the Covid-19 pandemic hit with full force in the spring of 2020 I made the decision to stop having in-person meetings for consultations and bankruptcy schedule reviews and signings. To protect my health and the health of my staff and my clients I, like millions of other people around the world, started using technology more widely in my bankruptcy practice. I signed up for Zoom, purchased better webcams, expanded our electronic document procedures, created an electronic payment system and adopted a remote work mindset. Even bankruptcy trustees and courts adopted more technological solutions to keep bankruptcy accessible to people without having to meet in person. Trustee hearings stopped occurring in person and moved to conference calls that could be accessed by debtors from anywhere. Bankruptcy debtors no longer had to take a day off work to drive to Des Moines for a five minute hearing. The bankruptcy court also started holding more hearings by conference call. We all adapted to a new world.
Even now that concerns about Covid-19 have lessened, I still use the same technology solutions in my bankruptcy practice. I’ve found that the technology has made my practice more efficient and more available to my clients. Video conferences allow me to have clients from all areas of Iowa. No one needs to drive to Des Moines for anything. There’s no need to use vacation days to file bankruptcy. For people who find video conference technology too difficult I can use conference calls for consultations and bankruptcy schedule reviews. Payments can be made online. Documents can be sent and stored electronically. Documents can be signed remotely and electronically.
Some people still feel they need to meet their bankruptcy lawyer in person to gauge compatibility and professionalism. I understand that even if I don’t agree with it. Reputation and professionalism can be evaluated in many ways. My practice has won praise from bankruptcy trustees, judges and clients for thoroughness, honesty, knowledge of the law and professionalism. Clients have expressed appreciation for being able to sit in their home while “meeting” with me to discuss their bankruptcy options. It may not be for everyone but it works best for me and my clients. There’s no plan for trustees to return to in-person hearings. Using technology to file bankruptcy will only expand in the future and I will continue seeking ways for it to meet the needs of my clients.