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Date News Item
12/1/2014 Bankruptcy Help Desk Launched

Launch of the Bankruptcy Help Desk at noon on December 1, 2014 at the Stanley J. Roszkowski Federal Courthouse
Beginning December 8, 2014, the bankruptcy bar of the Western Division will operate a bankruptcy help desk to assist pro se (self represented) debtors for Chapter 7 cases.

Every year, approximately 200 to 270 bankruptcy petitions are filed by pro se debtors in the Western Division.  Most of these cases seek relief under Chapter 7.  Not surprisingly, many of these cases are troubled from the outset due to the petitioners’ lack of knowledge about bankruptcy basics.
Growing out of a discussion at the bankruptcy Town Hall Meeting held at the court in late 2013, an ad hoc committee of concerned members of the bar, representatives of Prairie State Legal Services and Northern Illinois University School of Law have been meeting with the court and the clerk of our court to examine problems encountered by pro se filers and possible solutions.  This effort in turn led to a series of planning meetings to devise and implement a volunteer program.

We are pleased to announce that more than a dozen volunteer attorneys have completed their orientation and are ready to begin meeting with debtors next month in a suite of rooms located in the Stanley J. Roszkowski Federal Courthouse.  Supporting our attorneys is an initial “class” of nineteen volunteer paralegals who have completed the training program provided by the Bankruptcy Clerk.  In addition, we look forward to a group of “Rule 711” law students from NIU joining the Help Desk early next year. 

Initially, the program will serve pro se debtors who contemplate or have filed petitions for relief under Chapter 7 in the Western Division.  Two volunteer attorneys and an equal number of paralegals/law students will staff the Help Desk one day each week.  The service will be provided by appointment only, and Prairie State Legal Services, with the assistance of the Bankruptcy Clerk, will coordinate scheduling and provide information.  The program, the first of its kind in the Western Division, would not be possible without the leadership of Judge Thomas Lynch, his clerk and staff and the support of our volunteers, Prairie State, NIU, Rockford Career College, the District Court and its Clerk.

Click the following link to view the televised announcement.

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