This 4th of July I would like to take some time to celebrate the United States Bankruptcy Code.

That might seem a little odd to some of you, but I urge you to follow along.

The right to file bankruptcy is so important that our founding fathers included it in the Constitution of the United States. The concept of a “fresh start” is fundamental to the American psyche–anyone can start over and build a new life here.

One word that has often been used to describe my approach to the law of restructuring and bankruptcy is “passionate.” I admit it is an apt description.

What attracts me to this area of the law is deeply rooted in my childhood experience. In many ways, my hometown was a microcosm of the hard life so many Americans faced in the 1980s. I have often referred to it as the living embodiment of a Bruce Springsteen song. I was born and raised in the financially depressed USA.

I grew up in Northern Indiana on the doorstep of Chicago, IL and Lake Michigan. There were a few important economies in the town: people commuted to the steel mills for work, others worked for Allis Chalmers (by far the largest factory in town), and agriculture was also very important. The 1980s were not good for these economies.

I still recall where I was, having dinner with my family on a Friday night, when I learned Allis Chalmers was shutting down. I remember seeing the red, blinking lights on the factory tower in the distance and thinking, “I won’t be seeing those anymore.” For me and my sister, Jenny, this also meant we would be losing more friends as families moved away for new jobs. We also both had friends whose families had their land, livestock and equipment auctioned off. Main Street and the small, local mall started to look very different as store after store went out of business.

It was not much different for my family. Jenny recalls the 1970s when my Father came home from Viet Nam and had a good job at the steel mills. But those days didn’t last. I remember going to the county health department for free vaccines and waiting in line at food pantries. I know what it is like to grow up poor in a town that was losing financial opportunities by the day.

My Mother impressed upon her daughters the importance of education. Jenny and I were going to go to college no matter what so we could have better lives. And we did. We studied hard, we got scholarships and financial aid, we worked jobs and went to school fulltime. We firmly believed that in America, with hard work, you can improve the circumstances you are born into.

I am often involved in cases where people have worked hard and built a life just like I have, only to be threatened with the loss of that life—often for reasons beyond their control. People are often ashamed to file for bankruptcy or to admit that they can’t pay their bills. They put off asking for help because there is a stigma attached to these things. 

There is nothing shameful in taking advantage of the “fresh start” we are all promised in the Constitution. Financial restructuring can be a saving grace—by working with lenders these tools allow people to keep their farms, to reorganize businesses and keep workers employed, and to save their homes.

When I was a child, I was not able to help the people and businesses in my hometown. It is now my daily passion to work with lenders and to help similarly situated people and business owners in a way I couldn’t help back then.

Want more information on the Bankruptcy Code? Contact an Omaha lawyer, Sioux City lawyer, or Sioux Falls lawyers today!


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