Bankruptcy Paralegal Career & Training
What is a Bankruptcy Paralegal?
Bankruptcy is a legal process in which debtors can be relieved of their liability to repay (all, or a portion of) their debts through bankruptcy court arrangements. This process is usually lengthy and technical in nature, so most individuals and businesses that are filing bankruptcy do so with the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney. Most bankruptcy paralegals work for bankruptcy attorneys, assisting them with a number of tasks related to the client’s bankruptcy proceedings. However, some bankruptcy paralegals work for creditors who hold debts that are involved in a bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Paralegal Job Duties
A qualified bankruptcy paralegal can complete many of the same tasks as an attorney, and thus bankruptcy paralegals perform a wide variety of job duties. These vary depending on if the paralegal works on behalf of the individual or business that is filing bankruptcy, or a creditor named in a bankruptcy proceeding. According to the National Association of Legal Assistants & Paralegals (NALA) publication here are the the job duties of bankruptcy paralegals:
- Interviewing the client to gather relevant facts; communicating with the client throughout the bankruptcy process
- Obtaining and reviewing the client’s credit report
- Drafting documents including petitions, schedules, statements, disclosures, reaffirmation agreements, motions, and correspondence to creditors
- Monitoring deadlines related to the proceedings
- Communicating with the bankruptcy court clerk, trustee, and creditors, via telephone and written correspondence
- Filing documents with the bankruptcy court
Bankruptcy paralegal duties for those who work for creditors may include the following:
- Reviewing petitions, promissory notes, and schedules
- Performing searches of the Uniform Commercial Code to obtain information
- Preparing proof of claims
- Drafting Uniform Commercial Code information
How much do Bankruptcy Paralegals Make?
ankruptcy paralegal salary information reflects a wide range in compensation, ranging from around $30,000 to over $70,000. According to NALA’s 2010 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report, (of which 16% of the respondents were bankruptcy paralegals,) the average salary of bankruptcy paralegals is $51,209. Salaries can vary widely depending on years of experience, type of employer, and geographic area.
Bankruptcy Paralegal Skills
In order to succeed as a bankruptcy paralegal, a number of important skills are required. Bankruptcy paralegals must have a keen attention to detail, as it’s critical that bankruptcy documents are completed correctly. They should also have strong organizational skills and be able to multi-task and prioritize. Strong writing and verbal communication skills are also necessary.
Freelance Bankruptcy Paralegals
Due to the state of the current economy, the number of bankruptcies is rising. In addition to increasing the need for qualified bankruptcy paralegals, this has also brought about a new role – that of the freelance bankruptcy paralegal. These paralegals work independently, often from home, to provide paralegal bankruptcy assistance to lawyers, and generally do the same tasks as an on-site bankruptcy paralegal. This can be beneficial to both parties, as the freelance paralegal gets the flexibility of working (for the most part) when and where they want, and the bankruptcy attorney can utilize the paralegal when they need them without paying a full-time salary and benefits. Most freelance paralegals have several years of in-firm experience before setting out on their own, as a strong knowledge of bankruptcy regulations and procedures is necessary.
Bankruptcy Paralegal Training
Many bankruptcy paralegal jobs require candidates to have a college degree or paralegal certificate. When completing a paralegal education, those who are interested in becoming a bankruptcy paralegal should be sure to take any bankruptcy course that is offered. However, much bankruptcy paralegal training is on-the-job. Some bankruptcy paralegals start as secretaries or legal assistants in firms that handle bankruptcy, before moving to a bankruptcy paralegal position upon gaining more knowledge in the area.
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