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Filing Without an Attorney

Debtors and creditors who do not have the assistance of a lawyer in an adversary case (litigation or law suit) may request the assistance of a lawyer who will represent them for no charge. The request should be made to the judge hearing the case as soon as possible in the litigation. The judge will determine if the party is eligible and will request the clerk’s office to find a lawyer from the list of volunteers. The party must be willing to cooperate and work with the volunteer lawyer.

Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney

Corporations and partnerships must have an attorney to file a bankruptcy case. Individuals, however, may represent themselves in bankruptcy court. While individuals can file a bankruptcy case without an attorney or "pro se," it is extremely difficult to do it successfully.

It is very important that a bankruptcy case be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor's rights. For example, a debtor whose case is dismissed for failure to file a required document, such as a credit counseling certificate, may lose the right to file another case or lose protections in a later case, including the benefit of the automatic stay. Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences - hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.

Debtors must list all property and debts in their bankruptcy schedules. If a debt is not listed, it is possible the debt will not be discharged. (Lists of the documents [including schedules] that debtors must file are set out on Form B2000 (pdf), one of the Director's Procedural Forms.) The judge can also deny the discharge of all debts if a debtor does something dishonest in connection with the bankruptcy case, such as destroying or hiding property, falsifying records, or lying. Individual bankruptcy cases are randomly audited to determine the accuracy, truthfulness, and completeness of the information that the debtor is required to provide. Please be aware that bankruptcy fraud is a crime.

Pro se litigants, whether debtor or creditor, are expected to follow the rules that govern procedures in the federal courts. Pro se litigants should be familiar with the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and the local rules of the court . Local rules, along with other useful information, are usually posted on the court's web site and are available at the court's intake counter.

Bankruptcy Basics -Vast information to help guide you through the process

Bankruptcy Terms-Explanation of various terms used

Bankruptcy Help Desk-Free local help for those filing by themselves

Guide for Individuals Filing a Bankruptcy without an Attorney-Locally written by the Court.