The holidays mark the first anniversary of this law firm, so it seems like a good time to look back and reflect on the year that was.
There's been some major changes in the Chapter 13 world here in Northern California - firstly, Judge Weissbrodt (who I had clerked for) retired. Bankruptcy Judges are appointed (as opposed to some state judges who are elected, or federal judges who are appointed but Congress confirms that appointment) for a term of 13 years. We haven't had a replacement appointed for Judge Weissbrodt, and don't anticipate one. The existing Judges are splitting up and sharing his case load.
There was a new Chapter 13 plan - gone is the old short form (1 page) plan, and in is a new 4 page plan. The new plan has advantages, but is much more complicated and difficult to deal with. This won't affect attorneys that much - we have the time and resources to educate ourselves and become familiar with it. The real sufferer in this situation is the pro se (self filing) debtor. It is going to be even more difficult for someone who is not a bankruptcy professional to succeed in Chapter 13, no matter how much they try.
Given almost all pro se Chapter 13s fail, maybe this isn't a big deal. But personally, I found the old plan easier for a non-attorney to read and understand at a glance, which was a benefit to both people filing and their creditors.
As far as the practice goes - opening my own law firm has been a great experience. I enjoy working with my clients, and really focusing on getting them the fresh start that they are looking for. Being small and nimble, and able to work personally with all my clients is nice. So many people work so hard, and really need a way to get back on their feet. It is a good feeling seeing people be rewarded for their hardwork, not constantly held down by past misfortune or mistake.
Finally, operating this firm has given me some additional perspective. Many of my clients are either self employed either part time or full time, taking on driving for lyft, a small catering business, or other home based business to supplement their income. Working for yourself can be challenging, but when you have success is incredibly rewarding.
I hope everyone has a bright and cheerful 2017.