Banned From Bankruptcy Court: Judge Tells KEL Lawyers To Get Lost
Kaufman, Englett, and Lynd, PLLC (“KEL”) is a law firm that advertises mortgage foreclosure defense work, among other things. KEL decided to get into the bankruptcy business and is one of the largest volume filers of bankruptcy petitions in the Middle District of Florida. I assume that many of KEL’s clients who could not pay their mortgage are also good candidates for bankruptcy to both protect themselves from deficiency judgments and wipe out other debts related to their financial hardship. It seems good business for KEL to capture the bankruptcy business from their foreclosure defense clients.
There was much scuttlebutt around the bankruptcy court today about a court order which sanctioned KEL by banning them from practicing in bankruptcy court for the Middle District. No bankruptcy filings, no motions, no claims, no nothing. This is a very severe sanction. I have not heard of this court ever banning an attorney from future legal practice before the court.
The order does not describe in detail KEL’s bad behavior. Apparently, KEL, though its attorney William Sanchez, filed a motion in November 2010, for sanctions against bankruptcy debtors. The court said that “because of numerous missteps and lack of diligence by Mr. Sanchez and his firm” the court has been unable to adjudicate the motion.
I have no personal experience with KEL problems or their practice. I know they have a high-volume bankruptcy operation A few other bankruptcy attorneys I spoke with today stated that KEL typically assigns inexperienced attorneys to bankruptcy cases, , and that these inexperienced attorneys are filing a large number of bankruptcy petitions each month. Inexperienced attorneys, generally, make mistakes in their petitions and in their bankruptcy practice. KEL attorneys must make some serious and repeated mistakes to incite a judge to the point where they have been banned from the bankruptcy court.
There is a lesson here for new bankruptcy attorneys. Bankruptcy practice is not as easy as it seems, and certainly, it’s more difficult than it was before the 2005 bankruptcy law. Federal court judges and bankruptcy trustees do not have much patience with sloppy law practice. Every attorney is inexperienced when he does his first case. By starting with a small volume of cases, and by working initially with a more experienced attorney, you can learn things about bankruptcy law which you cannot learn in a book or by reading the bankruptcy rules. Don’t attempt to handle a large volume of cases until you have learned the ropes of bankruptcy law and procedure. Case No. 10-15477
Carolyn Secor is a Clearwater bankruptcy attorney and Clearwater foreclosure attorney serving Palm Harbor, New Port Richey, Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs, Seminole, St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay area.