Yesterday, New York Boot Camper Linda Tirelli told us about how she’d set up her bankruptcy litigation practice and implemented Max’s Bankruptcy Litigation Model (BLM) to score significant victories on behalf of bankruptcy clients. Today, we’re talking about the consumer bankruptcy case in which she was recently awarded more than $125,000 in fees.
The Kercado case was one of those “crazy and absurd” cases you mentioned that you seek out?
This case was like a law school exam for issue spotting—we had it all: an unattached allonge, an unendorsed note, four bogus assignments from notorious robo-signers and no servicing agreement. We went through four law firms on the other side. The third one was flying five people up from Texas plus two New York lawyers every time we had a hearing. It can be intimidating, but you just have to make sure you know more than they do.
How do you do that?
That’s just a matter of keeping up with the Boot Camp and keeping up with your case. I go to the land records in every case. In the Kercado case, I found assignments signed by three of the most notorious robo-signers. They’d be switching roles on different documents within the same case, and none of the signatures matched…and then there was a “corrective assignment” signed by another well-known robo-signer. You really have to do the groundwork so that you’re never asking a question you don’t know the answer to.
How did the Boot Camp help?
I could not have won this case without the Boot Camp. Jay Patterson was fantastic. And at one point, opposing counsel claimed the note was in his New York office and the judge confirmed that I could go to his office and see it—but when I tried, he said it was in his Dallas office. Thad Bartholow was at his office within the hour and photographed the note. The allonge wasn’t attached.
April Charney was there to help when allonge questions arose, and letting the judge determine my fees wasn’t my idea, either; I got that from a firm in Arkansas that had posted on the list serve.
How did you come to the point of submitting the fee question to the judge?
We’d negotiated a great settlement for my client: they’d agreed to cut down the loan dramatically and give her a great interest rate and everything was looking good, but they were stuck at $20,000 on fees. Having that $20,000 in hand would have been nice, but it wasn’t enough and I can’t afford to undersell myself. We agreed to let the judge determine fees, and I submitted a fee application and was ultimately awarded $125,456.01.
What does this mean for other consumer bankruptcy attorneys?
It sets the bar regarding what we’re worth. The bank filed an opposition to my fee application, but instead of picking apart my hours they said I shouldn’t get more than $200 per hour. The judge questioned their attorneys about their hourly rates and made it clear on the record that the work I’d done was worth every penny of $500 per hour.
But I’ve put in my time. I’ve been licensed to practice law since 1995 and doing this work exclusively since 2008. I’ve invested in a lot of education on these topics.
Tell us a little more about that education.
I’ve been to 3 or 4 regular Boot Camps, and several smaller events—usually a couple a year. I don’t need the CLE; I’m doing this to be prepared. I go to NACBA and ABI events, and they’re great, but nothing prepares me to do bankruptcy litigation the way Max Gardner does.
The next live Bankruptcy Boot Camp takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina January 18-21. There’s still time to join us!
Can’t make it to Charlotte? Max’s most recent live Boot Camp is available via streaming video. Follow the link above and click on “Ways to Learn”.