Pro Bono FAQ

  1. Has Upsolve talked to the bankruptcy courts??
  2. Does the pro bono attorney have to sign their name on the bankruptcy forms? Is the pro bono attorney Counsel of Record?
  3. What if I’m concerned about liability?
  4. What if I think it’s is easier to do the forms from scratch than to review the Upsolve-generated forms?
  5. How does Upsolve deal with the means test calculations?
  6. Where does the debtor take the pre-filing credit counseling and post-filing debtor education course?
  7. Does Upsolve populate the fee waiver paperwork?
  8. How does the attorney make changes to the petition Upsolve generates?
  9. What if I think the Upsolve method would take more time than giving debtors the empty forms and then answering questions once the debtor has filled them out
  10. What if I’m concerned the pre-filing credit counseling course certificate that Upsolve tells the debtor to get will expire before the debtor is able to file for bankruptcy?
Has Upsolve talked to the bankruptcy courts?

We have engaged with several Chief Bankruptcy Judges across the United States to see if they have any objections to what we do. Our model has been met with enthusiasm. Indeed, we have several sitting and former bankruptcy judges on our advisory board. These include sitting judges Hon. Maureen Tighe, Hon. Henry Callaway, and Hon. Colleen Brown, and former judges Hon. Allan Gropper, Hon. Robert Gerber, and Hon. Judith Fitzgerald.

We have also met with several Chapter 7 trustees. Ron Peterson, the President of National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees, also sits on our advisory board, as do Henry Sommer, the editor of Collier on Bankruptcy, and Edward Boltz, the Former President of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

For a full list of our advisory board, please visit our team page.

Does the pro bono attorney have to sign their name on the bankruptcy forms? Is the pro bono attorney Counsel of Record?

No. We have spoken to several judges and trustees on this matter. Since the client is filing pro se, the attorney does not need to sign their name on the bankruptcy forms, even if they helped the client fill out information. The pro bono attorney’s name does not appear as counsel of record. As a courtesy to the Court and trustee, there is a notice of pro se assistance that includes the legal aid organization’s name. But this notice of pro se assistance does not have the attorney’s name. In the really small chance some further assistance is required by the debtor after filing, the attorney is not professionally obligated to provide it in anyway.

What if I’m concerned about liability?

We know you’ll do a meticulous job in reviewing and revising the forms after consulting with the debtor. But the Debtor is the only one responsible for the accuracy of the forms. The attorney has not signed anything and are not the debtor’s counsel. The attorney is not liable in anyway.

What if I think it’s is easier to do the forms from scratch than to review the Upsolve-generated forms?

Upsolve cuts down the time per case to less than 90 minutes total. No attorney who has used Upsolve to prepare the bankruptcy forms has ever continued to believe that it would have been easier for them to do it from scratch.

The attorney receives a completed petition, the credit reports with creditors already entered into the schedules, the debtors IRS tax transcripts for the last two years, and the debtor’s credit counseling certificate. We save the attorney the time it takes to ask the debtor hundreds of questions about their personal finances. We save the attorney the time it takes to then enter those questions into the bankruptcy forms. We save the attorney time it takes to make sure the debtor has collected and provided all necessary documents. We save the attorney the time it takes to enter the creditors.

All the attorney needs to do is complete the attorney checklist. We really encourage attorneys to check this link out to see what exactly they need to do.

How does Upsolve deal with the means test calculations?

The means test is never a concern with Upsolve debtors because we only work with folks who are legal aid-eligible. If the debtor is legal aid-eligible, their income level is so far below the median income, which triggers the means test, that means test calculations are never a problem.

Where does the debtor take the pre-filing credit counseling and post-filing debtor education course?

We direct debtors to take the course online at the nonprofit debtorcc.org. We have an integration with debtorcc.org in which our debtors have a special login page. Upsolve automatically receives the debtor’s Certificate of Completion, and we attach it to the documents we send pro bono attorneys. Debtorcc.org also automatically files the post-filing debtor education course certificate with the court.

Does Upsolve populate the fee waiver paperwork?

Yes we do, if the debtor qualifies for it. This is part of the bankruptcy forms the pro bono attorney receives.

How does the attorney make changes to the petition Upsolve generates?

Upsolve sends the LSP an editable PDF that the attorney can open and edit in Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free desktop application available for download here.

What if I do not feel comfortable reviewing the bankruptcy forms that are generated by Upsolve because Upsolve has no way of knowing how the client calculated the financial portions and entered that info into Upsolve?

We worked with Henry Sommer, editor of Collier on Bankruptcy, and Harvard Law School’s Access to Justice Lab to design an interview that elicits accurate information from debtors. We have debtors provide their income and SOFA information straight from their pay stubs and tax returns. We give very specific instructions when asking debtors to provide expense and asset information. Upsolve’s software takes care of all sum calculations. And the means test is never a concern with Upsolve debtors because we only work with folks who are legal-aid eligible.

Most importantly to note: our checklist asks attorneys to review the financial information the debtors have entered into the forms. We provide the debtor’s last two years of tax returns and their pay stubs to help attorneys do this. We know that debtors may need help to do the financial portions correctly. This is the main part of the petition review, along with the exemptions.

What if I think the Upsolve method would take more time than giving debtors the empty forms and then answering questions once the debtor has filled them out.

We encourage attorneys to read our pro bono guide.

Under no circumstances should Upsolve take longer than 2 hours for an attorney. Almost every attorney completes an Upsolve case in less than 90 minutes. The attorney receives the completed forms, the debtor’s tax returns, the debtor’s pay stubs, the debtor’s credit report, and the debtor’s credit counseling certificate. All the attorney needs to do is review them and fill out information that we leave for the attorney, namely exemptions.

We understand that it is easy to give debtors a packet to complete on their own and to have attorneys simply answer questions about the packet. In our experience and conversations talking to legal aid organizations across the country, there is a very high drop off rate where debtors do not actually come back with complete packets because they’re overwhelmed by completing the paperwork on their own. Upsolve’s software ensures that these debtors receive guidance through the process.

What if I’m concerned the pre-filing credit counseling course certificate that Upsolve tells the debtor to get will expire before the debtor is able to file for bankruptcy?

Credit counseling certificates are valid for 6 months. Once a debtor completes filling out the survey on Upsolve and uploading their documents, they will receive help from a pro bono attorney in well under 6 months, and almost always under 1 month.

Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) legal aid nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income Americans in financial distress get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost. We do this by combining the power of technology with pro bono attorneys. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have mission-driven funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and private charities.

To learn more, read our reviews from past clients, or read our press coverage.