Bankruptcy law is constantly evolving, and to maintain winning streaks, attorneys need to keep up with the most recent changes. For instance, new eligibility standards and means tests for Chapter 7 bankruptcy were introduced with the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) in 2005, necessitating the need for attorneys to be up to date with the most recent legal developments.
In the first three quarters of 2023, there have been over 400,000 bankruptcy filings, highlighting the need for skilled attorneys more than ever. This post aims to provide bankruptcy lawyers with three useful websites/institutes to help them maintain their competence and stand out in a crowded profession.
Websites for Continuing Education
American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI)
American Bankruptcy Institute has one of the most significant communities in the bankruptcy sector, with more than 120,000 bankruptcy professionals. Since its founding in 1982, the institute has played significant roles in influencing the practice of bankruptcy law in the United States. With a strong knowledge-sharing culture and a rich network consisting of judges, attorneys, researchers, scholars, and financial advisors, ABI has increased its educational offerings, giving its members access to up-to-date bankruptcy knowledge.
Overview of ABI and its Educational Offerings
ABI provides educational services, including online courses, webinars, and in-person events tailored to cater to every stage of a legal professional's career to improve their understanding and implementation of bankruptcy law.
ABI's thorough online courses constitute a priceless asset for attorneys wishing to increase their understanding of bankruptcy-related principles. The courses provide over 350 hours of educational content that cover a wide range of topics, from fundamental concepts in bankruptcy practice to its more technical approaches.
The online courses are self-paced which means that busy attorneys can balance their learning with demanding caseloads and court appearances.
The webinars provided by ABI give legal professionals access to an interactive online forum to share knowledge and useful tips for navigating bankruptcy law. These webinars allow members to interact with presenters and panelists in real-time; they get to ask questions and network with professionals in the same field. This differs from its online courses, as members interact and engage with other community members on the same topics in real time.
ABI boasts an impressive network of 68 local chapters dispersed around the United States. This provides members with a platform for local networking and educational events. ABI holds various conferences and seminars annually that gather bankruptcy lawyers nationwide. The engaging panel discussions and interactive workshops at these events not only encourage active participation among attendees but also deepen their comprehension of complex bankruptcy problems.
Notwithstanding the convenience of online learning, the importance of in-person events cannot be emphasized as they provide opportunities for physical networking and collaborations, enabling bankruptcy lawyers to build stronger connections among themselves.
ABI’s Membership Benefits for Attorneys
ABI membership enables collaboration on cases, idea sharing, and access to materials required for up-to-date bankruptcy practice. ABI makes continuing education more affordable for its members as they receive discounts on the institute's offerings, including registration fees for conferences, webinars, and online course materials.
Secondly, members have access to the most current information in the bankruptcy space through the institute's wide range of materials (books, journals, and newsletters). The "ABI Journal" and the "American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review," are the most popular publications from ABI. They offer in-depth analysis, case studies, and academic articles relevant to bankruptcy law and its practice.
Lastly, the institute promotes active participation from its members by offering leadership opportunities, participation in committees, and writing for publications, all of which advance an attorney's career by boosting their growth and visibility in the industry.
National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)
The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) was established in 1992 and has been committed to protecting the rights of consumer debtors while promoting the growth of professionals specializing in consumer bankruptcy. The institute has over 4,000 members, across the country, who educate, advocate, and litigate.
Partnering with companies like Listserv, UPS, Lenovo, and LawPay, members get discounts, free shipping on products, and access to a community where they can ask questions and get detailed, real-time responses from colleagues nationwide.
NACBA's Educational Programs and Conferences
NACBA hosts educational programs and conferences designed specifically for bankruptcy attorneys; for example, the NACBA's annual convention. NACBA collaborates with the leading bankruptcy software provider, NextChapter, to host educational sessions that give insights into the practical aspects of bankruptcy practice, offering attendees a deep dive into what technology solutions are available to them and how their workflow process can be better optimized.
With over 31 annual conventions since its establishment, NACBA also conducts various regional workshops and webinars for its members all year round. These events cover topics in the field, give case law updates, and tutor attorneys on effective communication with clients during bankruptcy proceedings.
Resources for Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
Consumer Bankruptcy Journal: NACBA publishes a quarterly journal for customer bankruptcy attorneys ; this publication houses in-depth analysis of key legal issues, case studies, and practice tips. This publicar can serve as a reference for bankruptcy attorneys on major and minor intricacies of consumer bankruptcy law.
Amicus Briefs: acting as amicus curiae, NACBA actively advocates for its members and clients in consumer bankruptcy cases. The institute files amicus briefs in significant bankruptcy cases across the county, and these briefs provide crucial support to bankruptcy attorneys navigating complex legal disputes and contribute to more favorable legal precedents.
Legal Research Tools: NACBA offers access to legal research databases, empowering bankruptcy attorneys with the latest case law, statutes, and regulations. Staying informed and up-to-date on legal developments is essential for providing excellent legal services to clients.
Practice Management Resources: efficient practice management is integral to the success of any bankruptcy attorney. NACBA provides resources, templates, and guidance on how attorneys can optimize their bankruptcy law practice. This includes advice on client intake, case management, and ethical considerations.
Tools for Legal Research: the NACBA provides access to legal research resources, like their Caselaw Updates and Fastcase Legal research. These tools supply an overview of cases weekly alongside full discussions and opinions of other member attorneys. This tool informs attorneys on the most recent statutes, rules, and case law.
Resources for Practice Management: any bankruptcy attorney's success depends on effective practice management. The NACBA offers tools like Exemption Express that compile exemption laws across the country in an easily accessible database for its members. Through NACBAConnect, active members can network, exchange information, and offer advice on client intake, case management, ethical issues, and consumer bankruptcy.
NACBA's Attorney Community and Networking Opportunities
The NACBA has channeled its efforts toward creating a community that facilitates continuous learning and networking among consumer bankruptcy attorneys. For instance, the institute’s online forums enable members to engage in discussions, seek advice, and share their experiences in the field.
Aside from online forums, NACBA has local chapters across the United States that allow members to network in their respective regions. At the local chapters, members hold regular meetings, seminars, and social events that foster strong bonds within the legal community.
The NACBA also established NACBAConnect, a virtual hub created by the institute to allow members to interact, share and access resources. Finally through its "Find an attorney" feature, the institute connects consumer debtors with their attorneys; this database allows attorneys to showcase their qualifications and track records, positioning them to garner new clientele.
American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Business Law
Since 1878, the American Bar Association has been dedicated to providing Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs. With over 400,000 members, the association has become one of the largest voluntary professional organizations in the world. The ABA cuts across 190 countries worldwide and maintains a reputation for actively engaging with lawmakers and policymakers to shape legislation and public policy in member nations.
ABA's Business Law Section and Its Relevance to Bankruptcy Practice
Corporate finance, securities regulation, and business transactions are just a few examples of how bankruptcy law overlaps with other areas of business law. This is where the ABA's Section of Business Law is an added advantage, as bankruptcy attorneys can use it as a reference on business law and all its interrelated fields.
Furthermore, the Business Law Section actively influences bankruptcy legislation and regulations in the nation, allowing bankruptcy attorneys to engage in advocacy and policy discussions, stay informed, and advance bankruptcy law in the country.
CLE Programs, Publications, and Events
The Business Law Section of the ABA offers live and recorded learning programs within books, practice guidelines, journals, and newsletters that all cover important topics and advancements in bankruptcy law and are useful resources for bankruptcy professionals. They also have the "Business Law Today" journal that features information on current bankruptcy cases, rising industry trends, and helpful advice from seasoned bankruptcy practitioners.
The ABA events include the Annual Business Law Section Spring Meeting and the Business Law Section Virtual Annual Meeting. Similarly to other learning institutes, these events host discussions and educational sessions that build professional relationships with professionals. However, many of these events have themes and sessions, especially for bankruptcy cases.
ABA Membership Benefits for Attorneys
As a bankruptcy attorney, being a member of the American Bar Association can provide you with interactive and collaborative opportunities with attorneys from various practice areas. These interactions can bring about fresh ideas and perspectives to bankruptcy practice and facilitate innovative solutions to complex legal problems.
ABA members enjoy exclusive discounts and resources that can be especially advantageous for bankruptcy attorneys. These benefits include ABA Advantage Discounts, which provide members with exclusive discounts on various products and services, such as legal research tools, free access to their CLE Library, office supplies, insurance, and technology solutions. These cost-saving benefits can help improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your bankruptcy practice. Additionally, ABA membership provides access to various sections and committees based on your areas of interest and practice.
Continuing education for bankruptcy attorneys entails improving on existing knowledge and ensuring they are up to speed with the legal trends in bankruptcy practice. Whichever institution or association an attorney chooses to join, they should ensure they are continually learning for better case outcomes.