By Charisma L. Troiano, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A group of interested lawyers and members of the public joined two noted Brooklyn attorneys Monday night for a brief primer on consumer debt and bankruptcy.
Sponsored by the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Foundation Law Committee, the event served as an informational lecture outlining the process of a typical consumer collection proceeding (or a bankruptcy) and defenses available to both the debtor and consumer.
“The information people get here is valuable information for themselves or somebody they know or for the future … [and] all of our programs are pro bono. They are put on by attorneys who are well known practitioners,” explained Fern Finkel, chairman of the Foundations Law Committee and moderator of the evening’s lecture.
Brooklyn bankruptcy attorney David J. Doyaga and litigator Richard Klass provided the small group with inside information on how to deal with creditors, ways to use bankruptcy to assist in clearing debt and general credit advice.
“Just like every year you should Google your name, you should also check your credit report once a year to make sure there are no inaccuracies,” said Klass.
He further added, “One of the first things you want to think about is keeping accurate notes on what happened on what date. A lot of people save their bills and receipts, but it’s important to keep a paper trail of what the debt collectors did because there are violations out there.”
The Foundation hosts a number of programs every year on a variety of topics including elder law, Finkel’s area of expertise.
“We do four to six programs a year. We just did elder law, we’re going to do landlord/tenant next and probably matrimonial and criminal law: know your rights,” said Finkel.
Though the programs focus on legal topics, the lectures are geared toward the layman. “These are not geared toward the attorneys, but a lot of them come by because there is always something that they can learn,” Finkel noted.
Monday’s discussion touched on issues of home loan modifications and using the bankruptcy court to push a mortgage bank’s participation, an issue championed by many federal bankruptcy judges in Brooklyn.
“Brooklyn bankruptcy judges are dedicated to making sure loan modifications go through,” Doyaga stated. “There’s mood in Brooklyn that says ‘we’re here for debtors.’ They make sure the debtor gets every opportunity available.”
In Brooklyn’s favor, Manhattan bankers aren’t keen on crossing the river to attend a court hearing, Doyaga added.
“To get a loan modification agreed to, it sometimes takes just the threat of having to appear in Brooklyn to persuade the bank to agreement.”
–Rob Abruzzese contributing