It seems that the best career one could have in this economy is that of a bankruptcy lawyer. With reported unemployment numbers being around 9% and actual numbers being close to 12% it's no surprise that many people in America are having trouble making ends meet. When the economy was roaring after the bankruptcy code was amended in 2005, many bankruptcy attorneys probably wondered if they should change their practice to another form of law. It didn't take long though, in late 2007 the financial markets almost completely collapsed taking the economy down into a depression. The government stepped in and propped up the banks with the stimulus bill and averted a disaster. What they couldn't stop was the devaluation of real estate nationwide and along with that of foreclosure problem that continues.
For a bankruptcy lawyer, their business is countercyclical. This means that they do better as the economy does worse. Some bankruptcy attorneys disagree with this theory and say it only applies to business bankruptcy. In a down economy, the average consumer might have a tough time scraping enough dough together to hire a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. Over the last couple years, something interesting has happened where many attorneys see potential clients that are too broke to file bankruptcy. Many of these people waited too long to come in and talk to an attorney. It must be these folks were watching too much TV and seeing how the US economy is rebounding and unemployment is actually getting better. Thinking things were getting better and the new job was right around the corner, folks continued paying on debts they knew deep down they couldn't afford. Many burned through their 401(k) and sold whatever assets they had to keep the machine running, only to find out there was no new job around the corner and now they're broke.
Over the last few years, we have seen some of the largest corporate bankruptcies in the world and even worse, municipalities filing bankruptcy as a way to keep the streetlights on. In this economy, many household names that we grew up with are disappearing as they can't compete with companies from overseas. High commodity prices and unsustainable union contracts are forcing businesses into filing bankruptcy. For the law firm that deals with Chapter 11 and corporate bankruptcy, a bankruptcy lawyer is in hog heaven. Many of these fights end up with huge billable hours as these bankruptcy filings go on and on like a bad divorce.
As the economy continues to wallow in the mud, hopefully the people that still have the resources to hire a bankruptcy lawyer will take a serious look at their finances before it's too late. While no one wants to file for bankruptcy, being proactive will many times avert a larger financial disaster. With the average American carrying close to $16,000 in credit card debt, people should start doing some soul-searching to see if this kind of debt can be paid off with their salary.
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