Consumer Bankruptcy Fee Study

If you like numbers and charts and percentages, you will love this 176 page article, The Consumer Bankruptcy Fee Study: Final Report, by Prof. Lois Lopica.  The abstract says in part:

The Consumer Fee Study’s primary objective is to identify and monetize these costs of bankruptcy access through the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data gathered from court dockets and from professionals working within the bankruptcy system. We began the quantitative section with the hypothesis that following BAPCPA’s enactment, the cost of accessing the consumer bankruptcy system increased. We set out to determine the degree of increased costs, as well as to identify the specific policies and practices affecting these costs. Additionally, we endeavored to evaluate, with specificity, how diverse local procedures and guidelines impact the system’s processes and outcomes. Our focus throughout the Study was on the consumer bankruptcy system and its principal stakeholders. Until now, empirical study of BAPCPA’s impact has focused primarily on the system’s demand side, gathering and analyzing financial and sociological data with respect to debtor households. The effect of BAPCPA on debtors, however, cannot be fully assessed without an examination of the architecture that surrounds a consumer’s decision to file, coupled with an account of the complexity of factors that inform and influence the consumer’s experience in the bankruptcy system. This Study addresses issues related to the institutional framework of consumer bankruptcy by not only measuring and monetizing the cost of access, but by also examining the incentives and constraints imposed by the system.

While the numbers part of the article is not overly useful (largely because it covers the whole country), the author discusses, using data from extensive questionnaires and interviews, the efforts and compensation of chapter 7 and chapter 13 trustees, as well as consumer bankruptcy lawyers.  It delves into the consequences of free initial consultations, competition with paid preparers, who makes a profit and who does not, and why.  Highly recommended.  Email it to yourself and look it over sometime when you are sitting somewhere wishing you had something to read. 

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