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Bankruptcy and the Human Condition: Anerio Altman

May 29, 2013 06:47pm  

Laguna Hills, CA—Bankruptcy attorney Anerio Altman never intended to become a lawyer.

“My mother said I would be a journalist or an attorney when I was younger—so I vowed to be neither,” Altman recalled in a recent interview with isLaws.com.  “I got into law because my wife had gotten accepted to law school, and I had a number of jobs that I was good at, but were not morally or ethically fulfilling in any way.”

(More on  News at IsLAWS.com)

After finishing law school, Altman and his wife started their own practice, which has been growing for ten years.  At first, they took any case that walked in the door, but soon Altman found himself accepting cases from the Public Law Center for Chapter 7 Representation and decided to focus his practice on what would turn out to be a momentous year for bankruptcy practitioners—2005.  The same month Altman became a bankruptcy specialist, a new reform called BAPCPA became law and bankruptcy attorneys scrambled to catch up.  It was the perfect time for a new practitioner to get in on the ground floor.

“We had this great six month period where you filed hundreds of cases,” Altman recalls.  “After that, I just kept developing and specializing in that, so bankruptcy is about 90 percent of my practice now.”

Altman says that working in bankruptcy has taught him a lot about the human condition.  “When people are up against a wall, they will do anything to protect themselves,” he explains.  “Money is pretty ephemeral, when you really get down to it.  It's a practice area that lends itself to Buddhism, where possessions don't really matter that much.  You see people who get attached to the weirdest stuff.”

For Altman, who started off law school hoping to be an Atticus Finch, fighting for civil rights, bankruptcy law also offers an opportunity to help people who have been wronged and taken advantage of: “I take a lot of cases on a contingency or a pay me when you can basis.  I do this because the creditors and collectors are just trying to dehumanize their prey—you'll see a lot of people on the other side of the collection industry purging documents or robo-signing, where the creditor is just making up proof of service and documents, and has no regard for the humanity of your client.”

According to Altman, the changes to the bankruptcy code in 2005 had the effect of creating a non-bankruptcy industry that offers debt litigation and debt settlement services.  These changes, he says, have not been positive for consumers.

“You're seeing a lot of people who are not licensed and who are offering bankruptcy or debt settlement services competing at a much greater scale,” he says.  “In my old building, I was the only attorney, and there were three other companies doing debt settlement.  None of them were licensed in any capacity, they charged more than was allowed for a non-attorney to assist people preparing paperwork, and they did not do a good job.  Businesses acting illegally is the biggest challenge for bankruptcy attorneys—why go into this field when this is your competition?”

Still, Altman says that if he could have changed just one thing about his career, he wishes he “had started out in bankruptcy law sooner, found my calling sooner.  In spite of all the problems I've had over the last ten years, I still would have gone into bankruptcy law, I still would have opened by practice, and I still would have become an attorney—I have not lost hope in the field.”

If you would like to know more about Anerio Altman and Lake Forest Bankruptcy click here.

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