Can a Paralegal Prepare Bankruptcy Petitions?

VAP Services, LLC

Bankruptcy paralegals may prepare bankruptcy petitions without being under an attorneys supervision.  The debtor must know in advance which bankruptcy chapter they wish to file.  Furthermore, under no circumstances may the paralegal provide legal advice to the debtor.  Paralegals may also work for a bankruptcy attorney in a law firm or from a home office as a freelance Bankruptcy Petition Preparer.

What is a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer?1Chapter7-13

Federal law stipulates how a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (paralegal) can assist the public with preparing bankruptcy petitions under 11 U.S.C. § 110.  Each state has bankruptcy laws in which must be researched prior to preparing any bankruptcy filing.  Bankruptcy Petition Preparers may not represent a debtor in court, nor provide the public with any legal advice.  Bankruptcy paralegals cannot answer questions such as: Should I file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?  Will all my debt be discharged if I file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?  If I file Chapter 13…

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Top 10 Paying Paralegal Jobs

VAP Services, LLC

Once you begin your search of paralegal jobs, you want to consider the highest paying ones.  In order to find such positions it’s important to consider location, job duties, and the area of law you’re looking to work within.  Those with a college degree will receive higher salaries than those with no secondary education.  Many schools with good reputations and relationships within their community will even assist you with obtaining employment with a local firm. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average paralegal salary nationwide is  $52,990 for those with a two-year associate degree.  However, this average salary is amongst all paralegals nationwide, including those in the profession for over 10 years.

For paralegals coming right out of school $25,000 is a good estimate of what to expect for a starting salary.  The good news is within a couple of years statistics show that number going up to an estimated $35,000 a year. 

Just…

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Paralegals in Canada Provide Legal Advice

Paralegals in Canada are not only given more responsibilities per law, but are seen with a higher regard than in the United States.  Canadian law permits a licensed paralegal to handle tasks and provide legal advice to a client in some situations such as:

  • Small Claims Court;
  • Ontario Court of Justice (under the Provincial Offences Act);
  • Summary conviction offences where the maximum penalty does not exceed six months’ imprisonment and /or a $5,000 fine; and
  • Administrative tribunals such as the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

A person with a Canadian paralegal license can represent a client in any of the above-mentioned proceedings:

  • Provide legal advice concerning legal interests, rights with respect to a proceeding or the subject matter of a proceeding;
  • Draft legal documents for use in a proceeding; and
  • Negotiate on behalf of a person who is a party to a proceeding.

Paralegals in Canada are not permitted to appear in Family Court and may not provide legal services that only a lawyer may provide, such as drafting wills or handling real estate transactions or estates.

American paralegals work hard and receive years of education (majority hold a Bachelor’s Degree) to keep up with their attorney superiors; however, many are still not given the credit they deserve.  Hopefully, in the near future the US will catch up to other neighboring countries.

“VAP Services is a full service legal marketing network providing legal writing, web content management, and executive paralegal services to law firms nationwide.”

Contact VAP Services for all your paralegal needs.

Can a Paralegal Prepare Bankruptcy Petitions?

Bankruptcy paralegals may prepare bankruptcy petitions without being under an attorneys supervision.  The debtor must know in advance which bankruptcy chapter they wish to file.  Furthermore, under no circumstances may the paralegal provide legal advice to the debtor.  Paralegals may also work for a bankruptcy attorney in a law firm or from a home office as a freelance Bankruptcy Petition Preparer.

What is a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer?1Chapter7-13

Federal law stipulates how a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (paralegal) can assist the public with preparing bankruptcy petitions under 11 U.S.C. § 110.  Each state has bankruptcy laws in which must be researched prior to preparing any bankruptcy filing.  Bankruptcy Petition Preparers may not represent a debtor in court, nor provide the public with any legal advice.  Bankruptcy paralegals cannot answer questions such as: Should I file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?  Will all my debt be discharged if I file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?  If I file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can I keep my house?  Will I lose my car if I file any chapter of Bankruptcy?  

Freelance paralegals prepare bankruptcy petitions for debtors who already know which bankruptcy chapter they want to file.  Bankruptcy Petition Preparers request basic personal information from the debtors, tax returns, all three credit reports, tax debt, student loan debt, and any other bills that may not be on their credit report.  The paralegal then uses that information to complete the bankruptcy petition, schedules, exhibits, statements, and other court documents.  Preparers may also request from the debtor, specific documents or information requested by a court Trustee, and submit those documents to the Trustee on behalf of the client.

Bankruptcy_Petition_iStock_000008359066XSmall1What can a Bankruptcy Paralegal handle at a law firm?

Bankruptcy paralegals working at for bankruptcy law firms may perform a variety of tasks related to bankruptcy proceedings.  Some tasks a paralegal may handle for a bankruptcy attorney include:

  • Handling the bankruptcy debtor screening and interview.
  • Gather debtor financial information (old and current bills, tax returns, monthly expense sheet, etc.).
  • Drafting bankruptcy petitions, motions, affidavits, schedules, exhibits, appeals, adversarial pleadings, and any other necessary legal documents.
  • Research and locate specific laws to be used to benefit a debtor or to prove dischargeability.
  • Communicate with creditors and court appointed Trustee on the debtors behalf.
  • Schedule bankruptcy hearings and court dates with the court clerk.
  • Keep a calendar of case deadlines and remind the attorney in advance.

Each Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case will require the debtor(s), and their attorney to attend a mandatory hearing called the ‘Meeting of the Creditors’ (341 hearing).  Most US Bankruptcy Courts automatically assigned a hearing date after filing the bankruptcy petition.  After the 341 hearing, a bankruptcy paralegal is responsible for scheduling other hearings in order to make sure the attorney is available.

*In the event, a debtor is “pro se” and decides not to hire an attorney, only the debtor is required to attend.  A debtor IS NOT required to hire a bankruptcy attorney.

How Can I Become a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer?

poaAnyone interested in becoming a bankruptcy paralegal or a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer should be able to multi-task, have an eye for detail, work with numbers, and meet deadlines.  If you are serious in becoming a paralegal contact a local business school and regarding their paralegal certification program.  If you would rather attend a college and receive an Associate Degree or Bachelors Degree, many universities now have paralegal degree programs.  The degree you earn will determine the salary amount you receive.  A Bankruptcy paralegal may open a freelancing business from home or decide to work for a law firm.  If you have never seen or prepared a bankruptcy petition before, you may want to read the Federal Bankruptcy Court website for more information and forms.  You will find bankruptcy forms, schedules, and exhibits.  Also some paralegals purchase bankruptcy petition preparation software which can become a bit costly.  Be sure to read your state bankruptcy laws.  Some states cap the amount a non-attorney bankruptcy petition preparer can charge.

“VAP Services is a full service legal marketing network providing legal web marketing, web content management, and executive paralegal services to law firms nationwide.”

VAP.Services.LLC@gmail.com

Phone :  1-203-519-0599

Checks, Credit/Debit Cards, & PayPal

Top 10 Paying Paralegal Jobs

Once you begin your search of paralegal jobs, you want to consider the highest paying ones.  In order to find such positions it’s important to consider location, job duties, and the area of law you’re looking to work within.  Those with a college degree will receive higher salaries than those with no secondary education.  Many schools with good reputations and relationships within their community will even assist you with obtaining employment with a local firm. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average paralegal salary nationwide is  $52,990 for those with a two-year associate degree.  However, this average salary is amongst all paralegals nationwide, including those in the profession for over 10 years.

For paralegals coming right out of school $25,000 is a good estimate of what to expect for a starting salary.  The good news is within a couple of years statistics show that number going up to an estimated $35,000 a year. 

Just for informational purposes (or just for fun) here are what we think as of 2015 are the top 10 paying paralegal jobs in the US. 

1. Allianz Global Investors

allianzThe average senior paralegal salary here is $96k.  In order to be considered for such a high paying job, you need to have more than an associate degree and you need to have several years of experience working as a paralegal. You can access this kind of paralegal salary at some point in your career, but it won’t be as soon as you graduate from college.

2. Fish & Richardson

fish & richardsonAt Fish & Richardson, you can be paid an average salary of $93k for being a paralegal and case manager (dual responsibilities).  You will be taking charge of cases for a particular attorney, or be assigned one high-end client to work with.  To be even considered for this level job, you need both the education (4 year degree at minimum) and experience to back up your qualifications.

3. Altria

altriaA paralegal at Altria earns an average salary of $89k. The Virginia based company Altria is the owner of Phillip Morris whom is the distributor of Marlboro cigarettes.  They pay their paralegals so well maybe because they stay busy with civil injury lawsuits coming in left and right.

4. Paralegal with Microsoft

microsoftThe labor department statistics states the average paralegal working for the Microsoft Corporation is earning a salary of $75k a year.  Some make more and some make less, but the overall average across the company is considerably high.

5. DLA Piper

dla piperDLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world spanning across North America as well as into other parts of the globe.  They have more than 1,200 lawyers on staff and even more paralegals.  Here, you can expect to earn an average salary of $72k.  Some individuals make as low as $55k (still not a bad salary) and others make as high as $85k.

6. City of San Francisco

san franciscoThe average annual paralegal salary for those working for the City of San Francisco, CA is $71k.  This is about $25k more than what the average pay is for the profession around the country.  The actual amount of experience that you have and is also going to have a large bearing as to what you are paid.

7. San Jose Area

san joseIf you choose to become a paralegal in San Jose, CA, you can look at the median annual wage of $69k and this is about $25k more than what the average paralegal earns in the United States.  California is one of the higher paying states in general, though if you move to San Jose, you stand a better chance of being paid higher than almost anywhere else in the state.

8. Washington DC

washington dcShould you decide to work in the nation’s capital, you can take advantage of a great salary.  The median annual wage in this area for paralegals is $67k.  This is not the highest salary in the country, but it is about $20k higher than what the average paralegal is paid.  There are more politicians in this area of the country than anywhere else, so it stands to reason that there are also some very prominent law firms in the area.  

9. Perkins Coie

perkins coieWhen you decide to go to work at Perkins Coie, one of the largest law firms in the Northwest, you will be able to look at an average salary of $65k. This salary is the median for what is paid to their paralegals and with large clients such as Boeing and others, the law firm has a certain reputation to maintain – which is one of the reasons why they are willing to pay a higher salary for their paralegals.

10. New York City

flint michiganNew York City is the fourth highest paid location in the country for paralegals.  You can take advantage of the average pay of $62k.  Many law firms and corporations that house legal departments are located in NYC.  The living expenses may not leave you with much leftovers, but you can travel to neighboring communities for a more cost-effective rent.

There’s proof that you don’t have to settle for a salary of $40,000 or even less when you become a paralegal.  There are companies that pay higher and areas of the country known for paying more than what the rest of the country pays.  If you want to earn a higher salary, it is up to you to make the most of your career which includes continuing your education.

As cited earlier, there are some companies that go right to how much a person has in terms of education.  A one-year certification program is the minimum level of education that you need to become a paralegal.  If you want to work for one of the companies that are known for paying higher because of how well-known they and their clients are, you have to consider a more advanced degree.

“VAP Services is a full service executive paralegal network, providing legal document preparation including Living Wills and Power of Attorney drafting.”

VAP.Services.LLC@gmail.com

Phone :  1-203-519-0599

Checks, Credit/Debit Cards, & PayPal

 

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