Tallahassee, FL -- November 21, 2011 --
Bob Bruner is no stranger to bankruptcy---he's never filed himself, but he's helped thousands of people do so in his 35 years as a bankruptcy attorney. He's seen it all, from the corporate greed to the family who fell on hard times--no matter what the situation, it always starts off the same.
Bruner says, "My conference room has a lot of tissues and there isn't a day that goes by where I have people who are embarrassed and swell up and become emotional with me."
But Bruner is trying to sell the idea that bankruptcy isn't a disease--in fact, it's your constitutional right.
"All these things that are so negative, we've done a horrible job in telling people that help is available and that lawyers are good."
That statement is in the eye of the beholder, but the proof is in the pudding---
According to bankruptcyaction.com, bankruptcies have gone up over the past few years, more than doubling from 2006 to 2010.
"In today's economy I have people who got trapped in this spiral of housing. A lot of clients are in because they've got toxic assets, they've got a situation where they can't make it or they are being cut hours or jobs."
So what does the profile of someone filing bankruptcy look like? According to bankruptcyaction.com, the average age is 38. 44 percent of filers are couples and two of out three filers have lost a job. Half of those who file for bankruptcy have experienced a serious health issue and the highest bankruptcy states are Tennessee, Utah, Georgia, and Alabama.
"The interesting thing about this constitutional right is that recidivism in bankruptcy filings where people just file and refile. Less than three percent nationwide refile. In today's world of government programs that don't work, we have a 97% success rate."
There are many chapters of bankruptcy, Chapters' 7 and 13 are the most common, but there's an entire book outlining it all. And Bruner has read all the chapters and says his job is part lawyer, part psychologist and in this economy, there's big business in bankruptcy law. But his message in all of this, you're not alone.
"Donald Trump and several basketball players have all filed for bankruptcy and come back and prospered more."
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