As a bankruptcy attorney in West Michigan, I get used to the idea that no one is ever happy to come see me. Nobody sees an attorney because things are going well, nobody ever wants to file for bankruptcy, and most people in the community view me as a necessary evil. You might think this would be unfulfilling at best, and down right depressing at worst — you would be wrong.
When people see me it is because they have given up hope. They are at what is usually the lowest point in their lives, they feel like a failure who could not provide for their family, they beat themselves up more than any debt collector ever could. They have lost jobs, income, their life savings, and view bankruptcy not as a financial decision, but a moral one.
One of my favorite parts of meeting with a client is seeing the change in their outlook after I tell them that yes, there is help. That we can stop the harassment, stop wage garnishments, and rebuild their credit. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I feel genuinely privileged to be able to help shepherd my clients through that tunnel. Just seeing them relax, and even smile, makes me feel a little bit better.
Most attorneys get frustrated by their career which is probably why attorneys have such a high substance abuse rate. In fields like Divorce, Criminal Law, and Litigation, there is always an element of tragedy, and most times the people involved are never happy with the outcome or their attorney. One of my friends who is a divorce attorney once told me the way she knows that a divorce judgment was successful is that both sides hate it. With bankruptcy, my clients start out hopeless, but by the end of the process they are hopeful. They have seen that they can start their financial lives over, and most of the time the only regret people have is that they didn’t see me sooner.
Bankruptcy is not pleasant, but it is necessary, and can help people at the worst moments of their lives. I am proud to be a bankruptcy attorney, and I am honored that my clients place their trust in me to guide them through the process. I never thought I would be a bankruptcy attorney, but I always wanted a job where I could help people — I have that sort of job, and I love every day of it.