How Jarred Henline 7x’ed his bankruptcy practice with $0 down Chapter 7s (and a little marketing)

In this episode of Bankruptcy Law Success, I interview Jarred Henline, a bankruptcy attorney in Lehi, Utah who has gone from filing two bankruptcies a month in 2019 to 14 filings/month in the last three years. That’s a 7x increase!

During those three years, Jarred has done two things. First, he started offering $0 down bifurcated Chapter 7 bankruptcies. And second, he hired me to run his marketing campaigns to generate leads for him.

Some of the highlights in this interview include:

  • How Jarred has filed 14 bankruptcies a month for the last three years
  • The advice that Jarred would give another bankruptcy lawyer afraid to start offering $0 down bifurcated 7s
  • The exact “sales funnel” that Jarred has leveraged to turn even weak leads from Facebook into bankruptcy filings
  • Jarred’s approach to converting 53% of his qualified leads into actual filings
  • Why he hasn’t needed to wait for the fabled post-pandemic “bankruptcy tsunami” to file enough bankruptcy cases to pay himself a living wage
  • And a whole lot more, including his approach to complying with the recent USTP memo on bifurcated Chapter 7s

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above, or read a full transcript below.

You can also subscribe to get an email when we release new episodes of the Bankruptcy Law Success podcast.

Bob: Hi, this is Bob Hiler of the Bankruptcy Law Success podcast, where we introduce you to successful bankruptcy attorneys, as well as powerful marketing ideas that can transform your bankruptcy practice. Today we’re talking to Jarred Henline of Henline Law in Lehi, Utah.

Jarred, welcome to the podcast!

Jarred: Oh, thank you for having me. Very excited.

Bob: Awesome. Now, before we kind of get into the interview, as full disclosure, Jarred, you’ve been a client of mine for a couple years. Jarred, can you believe that we’ve known each other now for a little over three years?

Jarred: Has it really been three years? I was going to say two. That’s crazy. No, I can’t believe that. I guess it is three years from right now. Oh my goodness. Yeah, it is.

It’s actually over three years. I just looked up our first email exchange, and it was in October 2019.

Was it really?

Bob: Yeah.

And as we record, today is November 15th, so it’s been over three years.

Jarred: Oh yeah. Definitely passed the three years, wow.

Bob: It’s funny because after you hired me, I emailed you back and I said, and this is a quote, “Woohoo. I’m excited.” And then you wrote back, “I’m excited too, but super nervous. Let’s do this!”

Do you remember that?

Jarred: I don’t, but that sounds exactly like something I would send.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: But yeah, I mean, obviously I did send it

Bob: Yeah.

So I went back into Pacer and I did a search. And back in the September 2019 timeframe, you were doing two to three filings a month, OK?

Jarred: Mm-hmm.

Bob: And then over the past three years, you’ve been filing an average of 14 cases a month.

Jarred: That’s pretty awesome. That’s a nice increase.

Bob: Would you have been nervous back then if you had known that you were going from a few cases a month to 14 cases a month?

Jarred: Yeah, I think when we first talked, because I remember when I was referred over to you, the company that sent me to you, I was telling them like, I don’t know if this is ever gonna pan out, I only do like two cases a month.” And they were like, “You need to talk to Bob.” So then when we talked, I think our first conversation was like, “I hope I can do five or six,” something along those lines.

Bob: Yeah, five to ten was your number.

Jarred: Yeah, so now we’re exceeding that by 50% and, I mean, some months even much higher, so that’s awesome. Especially since we did it through the pandemic when at least here it seemed to have died for a while.

Bob: Yeah, man. If you hang out on the bankruptcy listservs, they’re all making jokes about how the bankruptcy tsunami is never coming. But it’s crazy because I looked on Pacer and in the last three years, so we’re still not done with November, but you filed 477 cases.

Jarred: For real? That’s crazy.

Bob: You might break 500 by the end of the year, but even so, 477 over three years, that’s a lot.

Jarred: That is a lot. That’s a lot of people, which is good.

Bob: Yeah, which is great. I mean, people are talking about like this bankruptcy tsunami and whether that’s gonna come or not. Meanwhile, we’ve been able to steadily do 14 cases a month. And it goes up and down. Like last month you had your high I think of 22 cases, right?

Jarred: Yeah, 22, I’ve only hit those numbers twice. Normally my high is like 18 and then there have been some really low months where it’s been like… It’s funny, really low months, maybe ten, eight, somewhere in there. And that’s funny that those are low now compared to, you know, previously.

Bob: You have not had less than 10 filings a month since February 2021.

Jarred: Well, see, look at that. I don’t even know my numbers.

Bob: Well, I mean, I just looked at Pacer. So it is been 20 months. And February’s low for everybody…

Jarred: Because of taxes.

Jarred: And which month was my lowest month this year?

Bob: February. It’s your lowest month every year.

Jarred: February. Yeah. Okay.

I almost feel like from Thanksgiving, like right now, until February, it seems to die, but not this year. This year, people are still coming in the door. This year compared to last year, the big difference is garnishments are up, people are being evicted.

Bob: Yes.

Jarred: You know, especially the evictions weren’t happening at all, that definitely put a damper on things.

Bob: Yeah. Last year you had 16 filings in October of 2021, 11 in November, 11 in December, and 11 in January.

Jarred: Okay.

Bob: So it’s been pretty consistent. It actually kind of makes me feel sad when I talk to a bankruptcy attorney who just acts like they just have to hope and pray for things to turn around for the industry or something, because we’ve clearly demonstrated that you can have great success if you know what you’re doing basically. So I’m proud of the work that we’ve done there…

Jarred: No, definitely super proud. But I don’t know anything. I mean, I know how to run the business, like I know how to do the practice, but you’re helping me bring them in the door, which is the number one thing. So that’s definitely something I’m super excited about.

Bob: Yeah. Well, I was actually gonna talk about this a little later, but we can pull it up to the front. And specifically what I’m referring to is your superpower, which is you do an excellent job of converting pre-qualified leads into filing bankruptcies. So that people can kind of understand the context of what we’re talking about here, let me back up and explain the sales funnel that we use for Facebook ads. It starts when a lead comes in. And then we schedule an appointment with that person. And right now, the person that they schedule with is actually me. I’ve been taking your calls since May of last year.

Jarred: A while.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: Oh my. Don’t ask me dates, because I would have said May of this year. Wow. Would have said May of this year.

Bob: So I take those calls and I run them through my script. And the point of that script is to see if they’re interested in moving forward and to make sure that they’re a candidate for bankruptcy. You know, if someone says that they have criminal restitutions, that they have to pay back an overpayment from unemployment, they’re not gonna be a good candidate for bankruptcy.

But if it’s a traditional credit card/payday/ medical debt kind of client and they have a good job, and they can file, then what I’ll do is I’ll set an appointment for you, for the attorney.

And you’re kind of being modest about what you do, but I’ve worked with dozens of attorneys and one of the remarkable things that you’ve been able to do is that for every hundred appointments that I set for you, you file 53 bankruptcies. So 53% of your appointments–the attorney appointments that have been screened, so these aren’t just raw leads–but 53% of these leads you’re going to file.

Jarred: Right.

Bob: And what I don’t know if you’re aware of is that this is an extremely high number. That many attorneys that I’ve worked with and gotten fired from, only close 10 to 20% of them. So you do have a gift.

Jarred: Oh, wow. Well, thank you. So it’s funny cuz you said that, I was like, “only 53%?” Like, that’s what first thing happened in my mind. I was like, Oh, it’s only… But it’s nice to know that’s like, you know, five times, four to five times larger than most people are doing.

But it’s almost like I expect… Every now and then we’ll get a case that’ll come through and I’ll talk to them and maybe they have a $10,000 refund coming to them, so they’re not gonna file, they’re gonna wait. And so every now and then, those kind of cases come in, but I’m hoping I can close every one of them. I mean, I know that’s silly and definitely unrealistic, but it’s definitely something I’m trying to do when I get a new lead that you’ve sent me.

The nice thing about it is I know that they already know the basics and I have your notes, which help me review it and see exactly where they’re at. And I’m thinking, “Oh, I can get these guys for sure, they need to file.” And sometimes they trail off because they’re people, they don’t commit, they’re unwilling to move forward.

And so I don’t hold that against myself, but sometimes it’s like, “Oh, I should have gotten this guy. I don’t know what happened to them.”

But I am super excited.

Bob: Yeah. So like when someone comes in, do you do anything kind of different? Like do you feel like you’re doing something extraordinary to get 53%?

Jarred: No, but I think that like even in my prior attorney life, when we would do consults, they would come into the office and we would sit down and I was at a maybe five-man firm, I always had a better close rate, too, than other people. And I don’t think that’s anything that I’m doing great. I think that I connect with people a little better. I make jokes that help people calm down, not calm down, but relax. And I think that’s just my personality. I don’t it’s anything I’m doing different, but I think that when people meet me, within the first five minutes, whether it’s in person or a phone call, people know that I’m not like the stereotypical stuffy attorney.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: You know what I mean? Like, I have a completely different demeanor. I’m pretty relaxed on the phone and making jokes about, you know, their bad day or them having Covid or something like that. It’s easy to do and I think that helps a lot.

Bob: Mm-hmm. You know, I take notes on these clients when I talk to them, and I’ve taken calls for other attorneys, and then one person told me that, “I talked to the attorney and I know you took notes and it sounded like he didn’t read any of them.”

How much time do you spend looking at the notes before the call? Is it like 30 seconds before or is it the day before? How do you do that?

Jarred: That’s sort of interesting because I don’t think it takes a lot of effort. Maybe you don’t even read the notes, but to make them feel special, I don’t think it takes a lot of effort. Like, because the notes come in I think most times pretty detailed. So it depends on the day. Sometimes I feel like a doctor and I have all these appointments lined up and I’m late for the one and it just dominoes down to my last appointment, I’m like 15 minutes late.

And so maybe I’m reading the notes as I hang up, read the notes as fast as I can call, and then as it’s ringing, I’m rereading the notes. Sometimes I read the notes five minutes before and I just read through it once, maybe once and then another quick through.

But it’s all there, because my habit I guess is to say, Oh, I have these great notes. Let’s talk about them, because I have a couple of questions and then I’m sort of going over the notes with them and confirming or sometimes clarifying things and that’s how I go about it. So I don’t have to have like a really in depth memory of the notes themselves.

Bob: When I’m writing in the notes, I just write down whatever they say. I used to play the piano so I can type at the speed of light. So if they’re saying, I did this, I did that, I’ll type that down. But then if I have a question, I will type in all caps, “THIS SOUNDS LIKE A PREFERENCE, LOOK INTO THIS.” Or something, all caps. Have you seen those notes?

Jarred: Yeah. You give like a little heads up on a certain issue or maybe it’s a question that you know that we need to talk about later. I think I actually just had one of those today where there something was in all caps.

Bob: Basically, I do it just so that if you’re running behind, you could just look at that and at least know that you have to ask them about that preference or whatever.

Jarred: Yeah.

Bob: Now this was actually surprising to me. When I was looking at Pacer, I actually pulled all the filings that you’ve ever done, and, how many filings do you think you’ve done, total?

Jarred: In my life? Well, we said we did 477 in the last three years, and I started doing bankruptcy in 2010, maybe?

Bob: You did your first one in 2009, but it was just one.

Jarred: I just did one in 2009?

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: Okay. So I’m trying to just do math. I would say 650.

Bob: Wow.

Jarred: I’m gonna guess that.

Bob: You’re at 686 total for your career.

Jarred: 686, OK. So two-thirds over the last three years. Which makes sense because that’s when I focused… Well two things. One, I hired you and two, I focused on, OK, this is my practice area that I’m doing, rather than anything that walks in the door I’m doing. That was the big change for me.

Bob: Yeah. So previously your high was 82 filings in 2012, versus in 2020 you did 177 filings. So you more than doubled it.

Jarred: Double, yeah, OK.

Bob: But let’s go back and talk about what happened in 2010 to 2014. How’d you get started in bankruptcy?

Jarred: So I was in a small firm and it was sort of a boutique firm. I was at the same firm for nine or ten years, until we met and I started on my own.

And in that firm, they basically at any time had anywhere between three to six to seven attorneys and whatever walked in the door, they would assign it out.

Very early on, like my first two months in the firm, he got a bankruptcy case and I was like, Sure, I’ll try it. And I did it and it was decent. And the managing attorney, his brother-in-law was consistently doing bankruptcies in Arizona. So he came up and taught me a little bit about Pacer and taught me about Best Case and MyCaseInfo and all these apps and things you could use.

And then we had another attorney that my managing attorney was really good friends with who was a big filer in Salt Lake. So he came down and showed me 13s and stuff. And just because I accepted that case, I became the bankruptcy guy. So anytime a bankruptcy would come in, they would send it to me.

And incidentally, I also signed up for ARAG. I don’t know what people call it, but ARAG Legal Insurance. And that’s how I would bring in a bankruptcy or two every now and then as well.

So between those, they just came to me and I I would do them as part of that practice.

Bob: So it looked like in 2014 you only did 27 cases. Was that just the Great Recession fading away?

Jarred: Yeah, I think it was. It was always hit and miss, because that firm never advertised. Like the only advertising you would say would come from legal insurance, which isn’t like really good advertising. And so it would be, “Oh, we have this client over here who needs help,” and then we’d get a bankruptcy that way.

Or, just small time referrals. But it wasn’t anything ever advertised or specialized in. And so it was just a hit or miss. I think I remember some of those low months because my goal was always to do at least five a month and some months, I don’t think I even came close.

Bob: From 2014 to 2018, your lowest was nine for the year. And the highest was 27 for the year.

In 2014, you did 27.

Jarred: Oh, for the year I did 27.

Bob: Yeah

Jarred: That makes sense. Yeah, so not very high, like two a month at the most.

Bob: Yeah. What other practice areas did you do for those years?

Jarred: Well, that was the interesting thing because I became the bankruptcy guy, and then they had a guy who came in and he became sort of the family law guy. But then I would dabble as a backup for family law and I would dabble and back up for criminal law. And so the cool thing was like my first five years, I probably did every single kind of law you can think of.

They rented out this office that they wanted me to manage. I don’t know any Spanish at all, but there was an office that the neighborhood was predominantly Spanish. Like, just go up there, we’re gonna put an immigration sign up, you’re gonna do immigration law.

I was like, “but I don’t know Spanish!” The managing guy knew Spanish. So my job was to answer the door and send Spanish people in. So out of all that, we had one immigration case that I was a second chair on. But long story short, I’ve done like every kind of law, at least, at least one thing.

And so that was nice because in the end I always kept coming back and yeah, I got lucky, or whatever, you might have it, but bankruptcy always was the place I liked. The clients are nicer. The work is more enjoyable. The bar as they call it, the bankruptcy bar here in Utah, everybody’s super cool.

And so I came back to that. And so even now, I dabble in estate planning, that’s my second area. And sometimes a family law case will come in or it’ll be referred, I’ll take it. But other than that, all bankruptcy. And I appreciate that, that experience of basically doing everything, because it was nice to see everything, and how things went.

Bob: Yeah. So you basically closed all those traditional bankruptcies yourself because prior to us working together in 2019, it was all traditional bankruptcies, right? And by traditional bankruptcy, I’m just referring to a non-bifurcated bankruptcy where you have to pay cash up front.

Jarred: Yeah. In 2012, probably was that the year that I had the most cases?

Bob: Yeah, you had 82.

Jarred: They sent me to an office that was right on State Street, which I think of that as like the big main street of a town called Orem. And that’s a big city. And so people would drive by and they would just come in the door. And so that helped increase traffic for that.

Bob: Isn’t Utah kind of the birthplace at bifurcation, because BK Billing started in Utah?

Jarred: Yeah, I think the nice thing about Utah is it’s very entrepreneurial. You have attorneys who are good attorneys, but really good businessmen and coming up with ideas. And so I wouldn’t be surprised to know that. I mean, I know the one big case is out of Utah. And so yeah, I think people are always trying to find an edge on the competition here. And I mean, on account of that, you have a couple of attorneys who when an attorney finds an edge, they try to squash it as fast as possible by reporting them to the authorities or whatnot.

Bob: Yeah, exactly. So you actually have sold dozens of traditional non-bifurcated bankruptcies, and now you’ve sold hundreds of bifurcated bankruptcies. What do you think the biggest differences are? Just in dealing with a client, how easy it is… How would you compare them?

Jarred: Well, I was nervous about doing zero down bankruptcies. I was like, that seems like a really bad idea. You know, I heard about this guy over here and it didn’t turn out too well for him. And that took some educating and stuff like that to get on board.

And I actually had pride in… I don’t know if you call it salesmanship, of being able to get clients without having them do a zero down case. Like, hey, you gotta pay me in full, how can we get that? So that was something like, I liked, I enjoyed that. And so it was a hard shift in my mindset to do that.

But once I did, man, it made it a lot easier. Like, I mean, I liked the sales approach, but it is also nice… The good thing is, is it makes sense to not do a Chapter 13 when somebody is a total Chapter 7 candidate, except they’re being garnished and they can’t come up with money. I mean, it’s a disservice to, I think, to the public to say, “Oh, well, you have to come up with however much money I’m gonna charge you right now.”

And they’re like, “Well, I’m being garnished and that’s gonna last for six months, so I can’t do it.” It’s a nice service to say, “I don’t care about that. Let’s stop it right now. And I promise, whatever they’re garnishing you, my cost will be less.” So that’s a nice thing and people are super excited about it and you’ve probably experienced it for sure, but people cry on the phone and they’re like, “Are you kidding me? Is this real?”

And every now and then you have people that burn you, but most people wanna do right by you because you did right by them. And it works out well.

Bob: You have 102 five star reviews on Google. That’s pretty amazing, right?

Jarred: That is amazing. Thankfully you told me that Google reviews were important. I’m like, what’s a Google review?

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: Yeah, it is pretty cool to have that. It’s something I’ve taken pride in, for sure. I need to get that number up, but I hit my hundred mark and sort of went a little cavalier on it, about requesting reviews lately.

Bob: Once you hit a hundred… I think you’ve gotten two reviews in the last couple months because you hit a hundred, that was your big goal and then you kind of gave up.

Jarred: Yeah, so I need to get back… I was actually thinking about that earlier, like yesterday I was like, man, I need to get some more Google reviews. But, yeah, a hundred, that’s pretty exciting.

Bob: Yeah, so Google reviews is a huge ranking factor for your Google listing when it appears on the… some people call it the map pack. So once you have like 102 five star reviews, you should get a lot more leads than you did before. Have you noticed that? Have you gotten more kind of organic free calls?

Yes, I think I’ve gotten a few, just in the last month or two. I feel like I’ve gotten a couple more, and the only reason I know that is because they’ll call into my number, which goes to a call center. Thank you. And then they’ll schedule it. Now, I’m used to them scheduling appointments for other things, but when a new bankruptcy comes on, I’m like, What? How’s this here? And I always ask them, and lately they’ve been saying, “Oh, I just…” You know, they’re usually in my city or same county. But they say, “I just Googled and found you.” So I did have one up in Bountiful, which is like 40 minutes away, where I was surprised that happened.

Bob: Well, there’s no bankruptcy attorney in Bountiful, so Google just kind of looks until it finds another bankruptcy attorney.

Jarred: Oh, OK.

Bob: So that’s probably how that happened. But you can get more organic bankruptcy leads when you have 102 five star reviews. Yeah. I mean, you don’t need a hundred. I mean, it’s great that you have a hundred, but even just breaking ten, you’re gonna see a significant improvement. So that’s cool.

Jarred: I was pretty excited when I got… I remember my first one and my 10th one and my 50th one, and then I was like, I was like, “Okay, next is the hundred.” And then, but when I feel bad about myself, or when my mom’s mad at me, I just send her the link and I’m like, “Hey Mom, look, I’m not that bad.”

Bob: You texted me when you got a hundred. You were very happy about that.

Jarred: Yeah, I was very excited about that.

Bob: I was excited too.

So when it comes to the traditional bankruptcy, one of the big differences is because they need to come up with the cash and a lot of times they can’t come up with the cash, then you just close a much lower percentage of people. So like with a zero down bifurcated case, someone who can afford to make payments over the next year, any of those people are gonna close. So like the close rate, if you get people on the phone, the close rate’s like 80% for them to move forward.

But with traditional bankruptcies, when you were meeting with people, were you seeing anything close to an 80% move-to-the-next-step rate?

Jarred: Probably not. Mm, probably not that high. It’s hard to know the percentages. What we would do is I would put them on an automatic draft payment plan, and I think after like a month they’d get sick of it and find like a relative to pay it all for them.

So that’s the difference is a relative used to pay a lot, like for bankruptcies all the time, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, even siblings. But now I rarely see that, it’s the people themselves, which is I think probably how it should be, taking responsibility for themselves. But that’d be a big difference.

But the close rate was definitely much, much lower. But even if you did it like somebody’s like, “I’m definitely gonna go through you,” well then you have to drag them out as they make these payments to try to come up with the money. You would lose quite a few of them in those months as they’re making the payments. Something would inevitably come up where they’re like, “Why did I wanna do bankruptcy?” And, it’s almost like they need that pressure to do that.

Bob: Mm-hmm. Plus, those people would often view the payments they made to you as a refundable bank deposit. And they would then come back to you, to the Bank of Jarred Henline and try to pull out their cash. I mean, that happened, right? To you too, right?

Jarred: Yeah, yeah, no, that would happen. That would definitely happen. Our agreement said something along the lines where we would keep the first… Because by signing them up and starting to work with them, it would take an hour or two. So we’d say, you can’t get the first $250 back or something like that.

Bob: Yeah. Okay, well, switching the topic a little bit to marketing, it’s pretty remarkable that your previous firm did no marketing except putting an office by a busy street, and then you’ve now been spending your own money on marketing over the last three years. The reason I bring this up is that a lot of people kind of fear marketing and they fear that they’re not gonna get their money back. But you’ve consistently been advertising now for over three years.

First, were you surprised at how much of a difference some marketing made for your bankruptcy practice?

Jarred: Yes, definitely. I mean, all in on that, because my mentality, my mindset was “I’m gonna grow this through referrals and organically,” even as early as July of 2019 when I was thinking about what’s next. And as I was trying to grow that part , (1) I didn’t know anything about marketing, so where do you start?

And (2) I just felt like that’s a lot of money. I don’t wanna spend a lot of money and not get anything back for it. And I’ve had hiccups, here and there. Not with you, not with the bankruptcy marketing. It’s been very consistent and I don’t think there’s been even a month where I’m like, “Well, that wasn’t worth it.” I don’t think that’s happened at all. It definitely has not happened at all.

Bob: That’s good. And I’m glad that we were able to kind of deliver a smooth number of filings, but surely you remember behind the scenes, we’ve had lots of little hiccups.

I actually was running some reports, so I’m just gonna kind of refresh your memory on like all the little… You know, have you ever seen that meme of a a duck placidly on the lake and then underneath the duck is furiously paddling his feet?

Jarred: Uhhuh, yeah.

Bob: It kind of felt like that sometimes. So starting in October 2019 to April 2020, we ran Google Ads.

Jarred: Right.

Bob: And those ads were working really well and we were filing a lot of cases. And then, I don’t know if you remember this, but like with the pandemic, Google stopped working for a little bit.

Jarred: Mm-hmm, I remember.

Bob: Yeah, a big part of that reason was people just stopped searching for the word “bankruptcy.”

Like our ads appeared when people searched on keywords like bankruptcy. And then they just stopped searching for bankruptcy. The only time they were searching was for like “LA Fitness shutdown,” so they would search for “LA Fitness bankruptcy,” something like that.

So we switched then to Facebook, because I had had this emergency backup plan of Facebook ads and so we switched over in that timeframe.

So, we switched to Facebook and then we saw good results there. But for the first five months of 2021, you were taking the calls for Facebook. Do you remember during that?

Jarred: Yep, I definitely remember that.

Bob: Yeah, because that must have been brutal because that that’s a lot of effort, right? Like you, you’re doing the initial calls and you’re doing the actual bankruptcies, right?

Jarred: Yeah, what it did was it took up a lot of time where you needed to be working on active cases but you were doing, “Oh, I can’t do that. I have five phone calls scheduled over the next two hours” and then you’d call and just take a…

Yeah, I remember doing it for sure. Or if they missed, then I’d text them and frantic call them and all of that.

Bob: Yeah, the appointment show rate for a Facebook lead is pretty low. It can be 50% , sometimes it’s less than that. You still managed to file 49 cases in the first four months of 2021, but you must have been working really insanely hard, doing all that.

Jarred: I remember going crazy a couple of those months, that’s for sure.

Bob: Yeah. Then, we kind of established that sales funnel and we talked about this earlier, but just to reiterate, they set the appointment, somebody calls them to do the preliminary call and then those people that say, “You know what? I do wanna move forward and I know what the price is and I’m cool with it,” those people who had been qualified then would set a second appointment that is either the first appointment with the attorney, that’s how we do it now or previously we called it the filing appointment and they would get all their documents to you.

Jarred: Mm-hmm.

Bob: So that sales funnel worked really well. But then do you remember in April 2021, Facebook started freaking out and they ended up shutting down one of our ad accounts? Do you remember that?

Jarred: I remember that as well. That was scarier than Google.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: Because like, with Google, you were like, “Oh, I have this backup plan.” And then with Facebook you’re like, “I don’t know what they’re doing or why.” It just was weird. They were just shutting people down for no reason, without what I would say rationality.

Bob: Yeah, I mean, Facebook is basically insane. Sometimes, I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship dealing with Facebook advertising, but I’ve gotten to the point where I know what triggers Facebook and I stay away from it.

I haven’t had any trouble since then. But then we had to create a new LLC. Do you remember that?

And then we created a new Facebook advertising account. So that was pretty stressful.

Jarred: That was really stressful. But it worked out. You figured it out.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: I was just clicking buttons where you told me to click buttons.

Bob: Yeah, so you’re one of the few bankruptcy lawyers actually that have advertised on both Google and Facebook. How would you characterize the difference between a Google lead and a Facebook lead?

Jarred: Well, right off the bat, the biggest difference is urgency on our part or on my part or whatever you wanna say. Because if a Facebook lead, they sort of reach out, they schedule the appointment when they want to talk to you. And usually that’s within a couple of days. And I get emails all the time where they’ve rescheduled or they canceled or whatnot, but there’s not like an urgency.

Whereas if you get a Google phone call, I think there’s a lot of pressure. You have to answer the call and you have to talk to them immediately. And then if you miss that phone call for whatever reason, there’s like high pressure text, try to call them back, you know?

So that’s number one. I think there’s a big difference because , when they’re on Facebook, it’s sort of almost funneled only to you. And they schedule that and it’s not like they’re out there searching. Whereas Google, just like I do when I’m Googling some place and it comes up with like five, ten results or whatever, I call the first or the one that I like. They don’t answer, then I’m like, “Oh fine, I’ll call the next one.” And so I think that’s the number one big difference.

And then the number two big difference. I don’t understand how Facebook works. Like I don’t get all of that stuff, but it seems to be for a Google person, there’s less numbers. And as we’ve talked about this before, you’ve talked with me about it before, with a Google person, they have to think, “Oh, I’m really in big trouble, I need to file bankruptcy. Let me look up somebody who can help me.” Whereas in Facebook, I don’t know what they’re searching on their computers. I know that Facebook is always listening, it appears. So maybe they have a conversation with their mom or their cell phones or whatever.

Bob: No, no, no. That’s an urban myth, they’re not doing that.

Jarred: Oh, that’s not real? Oh, I swear it’s real.

So maybe they’ve searched something, I don’t know how the whole dynamic works, but they not necessarily have thought “bankruptcy’s my answer,” but then they get an ad that says, “Have you thought about bankruptcy?” and so then it sort of brings in more people and then through the phone call and through the advertisement, they’re prepped a little bit more.

So I think that Google, they know they have to file bankruptcy, they’re ready to go, but that creates that urgency. Whereas Facebook, I think you’re getting more of a funnel and when they come in, it’s funny because obviously if somebody shouldn’t file bankruptcy, I tell them and I say, “This is a bad idea,” or “here are other options,” whether they include me or not, you know, we give them those options. But it seems to me most of these people could really benefit from bankruptcy.

Bob: Mm-hmm. Yeah. The other big difference that I’ve noticed is that the Google lead tends to be more upscale. So there’s more chapter 13s. Have you noticed that?

Jarred: Oh, I haven’t noticed that, but I could see that.

Bob: Yeah. And their income tends to be higher, so they’re gonna be more likely to qualify for a zero down 7 where you need to make a certain income requirement. Whereas on Facebook, you tend to get more people that that don’t qualify on an income basis or maybe don’t even have a job.

Jarred: Yeah.

Bob: But on a side note, I will say that whenever I talk to a lead that has no income and no job, I continue to be shocked by the number of those people that I continue to listen to them, and then at the end I say, “Do you perhaps have a family member or friend who’d be willing to pay for it, and then you could pay them back?” And a much higher percentage of those people than I would’ve ever thought actually end up filing because a friend or a family member help them out.

So that’s a tip I’ll throw out there.

Jarred: No, I agree with you. I think it’s definitely a high number. There seems to be a lot of unemployed and a lot of social security people. They need help too.

I had a client way back, this must have been 10 years ago. She came to me and I remember her going over her situation and I thought, “This lady’s a mess. There’s no way this is gonna work out. Like, do I take the risk and take her as a client and help her, or do I just send her away?” And I was really close to sending her on her own way, but it was a Chapter 13 and her car got repossessed and she had kids, and it was Thanksgiving weekend. And I remember her like just giving me this whole story and I was like, “I’m falling for this, I can’t believe I’m falling for this.”

So I decided against my better judgment to help her. And I helped her and she was one of the best clients I ever had. She never missed a payment. So I find myself always trying to help people.

Like they come and they’re like unemployed or they have low income. Like I feel myself reaching for them a little more than I would normally. Because I’m always thinking, “Oh, is another Monica? Maybe this is Monica again.” And I always wanna see the good in people.

And I have to say haven’t been a lot of Monicas over the years, but I always think of her and think, “Okay, this person’s on Social Security, I’ll give them a discount. We’ll try to make it work for them.” They usually make it work , but like I said earlier, there’s always gonna be people who take advantage. But that is one thing we try to do is help them out still.

Bob: I’ve noticed that where, particularly for the Social Security or SSD cases, that there’s no way that a bankruptcy financing company is gonna qualify them. So we’ve actually never talked about it explicitly, but clearly you have a soft heart and you’re financing some of those cases yourself. Is that right?

Jarred: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I just use my Law Pay and charge them a flat discounted rate once a month when their Social Security check comes in.

Bob: Mm-hmm. And how have those cases worked out for you?

Jarred: I think it’s funny because I think social security people probably pay about 90 to 100 percent. If they’re gonna miss, they let you know. They’re pretty good.

But a lot of the other in-house financing, you know where you get that feeling, you’re like, “I don’t trust this guy,” and you still wanna help him, so I’m not gonna send him somewhere else, I’ll just have him make payments to me… My feelings have been pretty dead on on that, like okay, that was a smart call.

Every now and then, they surprise me, but if they surprise me, it’s no harm done.

Bob: Mm-hmm.

Jarred: But most people pay and it works out awesome.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: It’s just slower, right? You take it over time.

Bob: Sure. One of the big changes that the US Trustee Program has made is that June 10th memo. And one of the big things was that you can’t advance the filing fee, so we stopped doing that in June. But one of the things that I think has happened is that in the old days you could have like a true zero down where people wouldn’t pay anything. And I think there’s like 5% of the population, where if you finance their filing fee and all their attorney’s fees, they just will never make a payment, right?

Jarred: Yeah.

Bob: You’ve had that, right?

Jarred: For sure I’ve had that.

Bob: So once the USTP forbade that practice, the very best we could do would be to have the court finance the filing fee. But in most cases the client would come up with a filing fee and I think that’s really improved the credit quality of our clients.

Have you gotten that sense?

Jarred: Yeah, I think it changed a few things.

I think it put pressure on them to say, “Hey, I’m not getting a free lunch here, like you’re gonna have to work for it.” And so they know that up front, and so they’re more invested.

And then as they make those payments, we see on the back end, we see, “Oh look, they’re really trying, they’re really doing what they’re supposed to do.”

And it’s amazing. Sometimes I’ll get a client, I got a client yesterday, I send them the text saying, “Don’t forget your payment’s due to the court.” And it’s very rare now that they ignore me. They either pay it and say “paid,” or they say, “Hey look, my check didn’t work out, can we ask the court for different terms?”

So I noticed people are a lot more proactive in that. And then, like you say, I think they’re more proactive long term: ” Okay, I’m all in.” And maybe that persuades some people away, maybe that’s why it’s only 53% instead of 100% as far as closing rates.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: That might be part of that.

But then it also, I think, has made me more diligent to follow up with current clients and say, “don’t forget your payments.” Not babysitting them. The nice thing is, most things I have set up on automatic reminders and stuff, but following up with them and then they follow up and I found that honestly, since we started that sometime in June, I don’t think we’ve had a client default on their payments since then.

Now I’ve had clients miss payments, new clients have missed payments because things happen in life. Like, we have a guy who lost his job the week after we filed. He hasn’t made any payments, but he calls me and he goes, “Hey, I’ve got an interview this week, I should have a payment.””

Bob: Mmm-hmm.

Jarred: And so I found that our payment and our, I don’t know, just like our general activism within the clients is much better.

Bob: Yeah.

I just think that if we can find some way of screening out the people who will never make a payment, that’s gonna be huge because everyone else is making 90-95% of their payments.

So if we could just screen out those people that will not make 100% of their payments, then all of a sudden, all of our numbers are just way higher.

Jarred: Yeah. Well, I know that people haven’t paid, like you say their name and I get so mad. I’m like, I’m gonna punch somebody now. You know, not that I’m violent, but it just angers me so much because it’s like they just take advantage of you. And so nobody wants to work for free and nobody wants to have to chase after them.

I mean, cuz if you don’t pay me, I’m not gonna just sit around. I’m gonna go after you eventually and harass you and try to get payment long term.

Bob: Mmm-hmm.

Jarred: But I don’t want to do that. I want to just keep working for people who appreciate me and stuff.

Bob: Yeah, totally.

The other kind of huge change that the USTP made in that memo is where you have to charge the same price for a bifurcated zero down Chapter 7 as you do for a cash up front Chapter 7. Before I ask you my question, I’m just gonna state for the record that, if you want to hear all 14 of the positions that the US trustee Program took in its June 10th memo, look at the previous podcast episode to this one, and we go over all those things. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is I think that the USTP did a real disservice to debtors, because then basically everyone’s just gonna raise their cash price up to their bifurcated price.

And then the next thing is that you’ve adjusted your pricing a bit. At this point, can you tell the audience, did you equalize your prices or are you gonna fight the USTP on this?

Jarred: I’m not gonna fight them. The least fights with them, the better.

But I think I’ve been undercharging on my bankruptcies for quite some time. There’s a notorious firm in, I guess it’s not the same town. Whoever’s not from Utah, it’s a bunch of tiny towns pushed together.

So everything’s one big town. But there’s one notorious firm here who… their fees were always higher, like much, much higher than mine. And so I’ve always been undercharging. So I took this as an opportunity to review my fees and look at how many hours everything was taking me and stuff like that. And the price of gas increase and food and whatnot.

Bob: Sure, sure…

Jarred: And so I raised the pay-up-front and I think I lowered the over-time by a hundred dollars. I think ultimately I just equalized them and it’s been good, and I think it’s probably more fair to me that way because I probably should have raised my fees a long time ago.

Bob: Mm-hmm.

One of the things that gets me really mad is looking at–whether it’s a USTP memo or a judge’s opinion–where they’re talking about “the traditional range of fees.” Because my sense is that for a traditional bankruptcy, you’re basically going up to a debtor who’s like in the middle of the desert of financial pain, and you’re asking them, “Give all your money and I’ll take you to the edge of the desert.”

Jarred: Mm-hmm.

Bob: Whereas in a bifurcated bankruptcy, you’re taking that debtor, you’re saying, “Okay, I’m going to take you to the edge of the desert, to the land of milk and honey. And once you get there and you’re not paying these debts, then you’ll be able to pay me back.

And so naturally, the debtor will be able to pay more money to an attorney who uses a bifurcated model than an attorney that uses a traditional model. I think that the traditional model is just… the amount of fees that you get are just suppressed because you’re kind of mugging a poor guy at his lowest point.

Does that make sense?

Jarred: Yeah. I think it makes sense, and I think it’s sort of a disservice to the public. I mean, that’s what the statutes say, I guess. And so that’s how they enforce it. But, you know, they have priority debts that survive a bankruptcy. They have different kinds of things that can survive.

So it really doesn’t make a lot of sense that the person that takes you, like you said, from the middle of the desert onto the end, shouldn’t be able to survive that. And that’s how this came about is people just trying to help people and work around this way.

I mean, certainly it’d be nice if the Congress would just amend the Bankruptcy Code and allow for it outright, then you wouldn’t have that. But I think it benefits the public to allow them to pay over time. Especially, like I said earlier, you look at a person who’s being garnished.

We had a lady being garnished $500 a paycheck every two weeks. And then I go to her and I say, “Well, I can help you, but you have to do a Chapter 13 and you’re gonna have to pay for three years.” In the end, the creditors aren’t going to get much, if at all, any more money from her than if she filed a Chapter 7. More likely than not, she’s just gonna be in this payment plan, which will stymie her growth and her ability to recover and to contribute to society as they want people to do more often.

So what’s the point of that? How does that help her? It doesn’t. And we try to do a payment plan option with them, which I think, given that U.S. Trustees’ memo, you would think that if you’re complying with that, which we are, then you are doing a good job and you’re okay, would be my guess.

Bob: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah.

Just taking a step back and not even thinking about the legal stuff, but just the moral stuff.

It kind of upsets me that some of these opinions talk about whether a bifurcated Chapter 7 gives debtors a true fresh start compared to someone who pays the money up front. But like you said, it kind of ignores all those people who are being garnished and don’t have that money front to pay. So it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Jarred: Well, and it’s putting them behind. I mean, if you say, “Okay, well you can’t file a bankruptcy until you come up with the money,” then you’re putting them behind six, seven, eight months, maybe a year until they come up with whatever they need. And that’s assuming they’re not being garnished. Well, then they file, and then they have another one to two years again before they’ll qualify to purchase a house, or move on, and have good credit.

Well, you’ve just extended that, so is that really better for them? Or if you can file now and possibly even (1) get rid of all the debt or (2) you can help rebuild their credit by reporting to the credit bureau. Those are all benefits that help them recover even better maybe.

Bob: Absolutely.

When you look at the shift in your mind as you went from a traditional bankruptcy to a bifurcated bankruptcy, I find that one of the hardest shifts for the bankruptcy attorney to make in his or her mind is that you’re kind of becoming a creditor of the debtor. And the bankruptcy attorney typically is used to fighting the creditor.

So you’re becoming a post-petition creditor to the debtor. And for some attorneys, that’s a really hard mindset to evolve to. Did that bother you at all when you started doing zero downs?

Jarred: No, because I’ve been an attorney, like I said, in all those other practice areas where I’m used to going to court and fighting for somebody who I look across the table at, and they haven’t paid me in six months, but the court requires me to be there. Like that was an experience I had, so that wasn’t something new, that sometimes you help people and they can’t pay for it at the time.

My harder thing was is I’m just probably risk averse naturally, and so I’m like, this seems pretty risky to me both with being paid on time and with like you said, some opinion of some judge in some random bankruptcy court, you know. So that was probably my biggest thing.

I don’t feel like a creditor to them. I guess maybe you could call it that, but that’s never the way I’ve looked at it.

Bob: Well, you’re not a pre-petition creditor, but you are a post-petition creditor.

Jarred: I guess I’ve never felt like a creditor. I guess by definition, yes, but I’ve never thought of it that way before.

Bob: Yeah. I will say that in Utah, even before the USTP came out with its June 2022 memo, you had the Hazlett case, which was kind of the seminal bifurcation case. And it’s not only in the 10th Circuit, but it’s a Utah case, right? Utah’s in the 10th circuit, right?

Jarred: Right.

Bob: Yeah. Well, anyways, that’s a Utah case. So you have the best bifurcation case law in the nation with the Hazlett case. Does that make you feel protected at all?

Jarred: Well, I followed that case from the beginning. And my impression of watching the case proceed was like, “Ugh, I don’t want to do that. That seems awful, like what he’s going through. I don’t wanna be part of that, you know?” So that was like the risk averseness.

And, I actually bailed on the case too early because it stressed me out so much. I’m like,”I’m not gonna follow this anymore.” So much so that I didn’t find the ultimate result. And that’s sort of where I was talking earlier, I had to be educated of, look, here’s this new case, talked to some other attorneys about the result. And it’s nice to have that as a reliance factor. But I still found that it’s not the smoking gun, if you will. It’s not foolproof.

Bob: Mmm-hmm. But the USTP memo, if you follow those guidelines, they’re literally saying that they’re not gonna come after you. And we follow all those guidelines, all 14 of those positions. I’m using the royal “we.” I feel like you’re in compliance anyways.

Do you feel like you’re in compliance with all 14 of the USTP positions?

Jarred: Yeah. And I think I was even before it came out, except for maybe one or two. I mean, it wasn’t like that was like the opinion and consensus of everyone, and then they put it on paper and sent it out. That was new stuff that they were trying to demand, or put out as authority, which I don’t know if it is authority, but at least it seems to be some authority of protection.

And so some of that was new that we’d never heard of, or never been required to think of before. And so once that came out, it wasn’t a question of, “Oh, are we gonna do this? Or are we gonna pick a fight?” It was just like, “OK, this isn’t hard. We can make adjustments and follow the rules.”

And maybe this isn’t the right time to say this, but my ultimate goal–like the reason I went to law school and I think the reason why I like bankruptcy–is because my ultimate goal is to help people. And if it comes to complying with some memo that I don’t even agree with 100%, but I understand where they’re coming from, then that’s what we’ll do.

Because I’m not out here trying to harm the public or my clients at all. In fact, every case I take, I wouldn’t take it unless I felt like we could help them in a very real way in their life, you know? And so that’s part of my analysis when I’m going through this, what do I have to do to be able to help this guy who can’t afford his rent or can’t even answer his phone because his creditors are calling too much. Whatever it might be. You know? That’s my ultimate goal when when we deal with stuff like that.

Bob: Yeah.

And I don’t feel like the USTP memo has slowed us down at all. I mean, we had to comply with it. We had to make a couple changes, but it certainly hasn’t lowered the number of filings.

I mean, just looking at the dates… in June, you filed 14 cases and in the last three months you filed: in August 14 cases; in September 15 cases; in October 22 cases. So it hasn’t crippled us by any means.

Jarred: No, for sure. I think it actually probably helped us, like we were talking earlier, about weeding out certain clients.

Bob: Yeah, absolutely.

Jarred: So maybe we’re grateful for it. I mean, we weren’t not in compliance. I think we were always in compliance with Hazlett.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: It’s just that this memo was little bit different than Hazlett.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: So that’s where the tweaks came.

Bob: I mean, you talk about authority. The memo was footnoted, but there is no national precedent on this. And so there was no citation to authority.

Sometimes the citations to authority were essentially like: this is how we feel, you know?

Jarred: Yeah, exactly.

Bob: So right now you’re at 13.8 filings a month so far this year. Looking forward, if you’re comfortable talking about it publicly, what are your goals for your firm? Have you thought about that?

Jarred: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it more and more. I’d like to do 20 no matter what, that’s my in-my-mind goal. And then I think I have like a reservation where I breathe a little, once I hit 10 in the month.

I’m always doing an average in my head. Every time I file, I try to see how many I filed compared to how many business days have been in the month. I’d love to file one per business day. if I can hit that consistently, then I’d like to bump that up 30 per month. One per day. One per business day. Yeah. that’d be 20 a month, right?

And so if I could hit that consistently, then ultimately I think I could get to 30 a month. Now, obviously a lot of things have to change for that to happen. A lot of growth.

And it’s hard because I’m never like happy. I think you’ve said that or noticed that about me. Like, “Oh, you did this much.” I’m like, “Oh, I could have done more.” Like that’s sort of it. But I also find myself being complacent a lot of times. Not stretching myself to do more.

And that’s sort of the part where I think I’m hoping to hit in 2023 is: how could we bring this up higher going forward and is that more marketing and better closing rates, a combination of all of that. And how can I do that? But long term, I’d love to do 30 and bring in somebody else to help work for me, and help., It’d be nice not to have to do 341s on a Friday.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: That’d be great. They always do 13 341s here on Friday, so I’m ready to be done with that.

Bob: How much help do you have? Because from what I can tell, you don’t have much help. You might have some paralegal help, but no attorney help. Is that right?

Jarred: I have zero attorney help, and I have a stay at home mom that I just hired who was bored and she’s awesome, she’s really awesome.

My last assistant quit, so I hired this person as my assistant and she’s running all of the 341 preps, right? So she gathers the documents, she schedules it, that kind of stuff. The mundane stuff that I don’t like, she’s been working on that for me.

Bob: What about the actual filing of the cases, though? Does she help with that?

Jarred: Nope, all me.

Bob: Yeah.

Jarred: I do all of the filing, all of the client contact, all of that.

Bob: Have you thought about giving up any of that work?

Jarred: I think I could, I don’t think it’s time yet. Like she’s still learning. I mean, she started a month ago, so she’s still learning some stuff.

Bob: Uh huh.

Jarred: And she’s only working about eight to ten hours a week. I could easily bring in somebody to do a lot of this work to ease the burdens for other things.

Bob: I’m not really asking if your assistant is ready to pick up the volume, I’m asking if you’re ready to let it go. Have you thought about that?

Jarred: Well, that’s the other part of it. I don’t know that I could do that. Like I think I could if I was very hands on the first few months to make sure things were going smoothly.

Bob: Mm-hmm, OK.

Jarred: But yeah, that’s probably where I’d be at.

Bob: Well, just circling back to the top of this interview, you started with two to three filings a month, and now you’re filing an average of 14 cases a month. The two big changes that you’ve been doing is… The first one is that you’ve been doing bifurcated Chapter 7s.

So my question to you is, what would you say to either yourself in the old days or to a new attorney who’s considering zero down, what would you say to them about doing bifurcated 7s?

Jarred: I would say embrace it.

I mean, I’m not sure I would’ve survived if I hadn’t tried that. And, well, there’s two things about that. I mean, you have to embrace it, and one thing I’m learning as I get older in all things in life, it helps to have a mentor. My job is to be the attorney and to advise these guys and to make sure they’re making good decisions and get them from first meeting to discharge.

But I have no idea how to do advertising or anything like that. So I would say find somebody, like find Bob.

As long as you’re not in my area, he can help you. So, use Bob and don’t be afraid of it. And I will say the impression I get is that the number of attorneys who have been doing this have increased quite a bit since I started doing it as well.

I think it is the way that you’re going to have to do it to be successful, especially as we come out of, we’re not in a pandemic, I guess you were saying that some people are calling it the bankruptcy tsunami or whatever. It just feels like every month it’s inching up. There’s more aggression by creditors, there’s more boldness by them and people are being garnished.

I mean, I don’t know if you get the sense, but I feel like people are being garnished way more now than were even six months ago.

Bob: Way, way more.

Jarred: Yeah, it’s incredible. And then, cars repossessed, evictions, foreclosures are gonna start happening again, I would guess soon too. But all of that’s gonna come back and so that’s gonna be the tool to help be successful with it. We’ll be doing those zero downs.

Bob: The other factor that we touched on earlier is just so many people out there are scared to do marketing. And in my mind, what you wanna do is you don’t wanna just “do marketing,” you wanna find someone that has a marketing system and then implement that.

But the same kind of question that I just asked… If you were to go to your old self–who was afraid of marketing and certainly worked at a firm that didn’t do any marketing for ten years–if you go to your old self or you go to a new attorney who’s scared of marketing, what would you say to them to mitigate those fears?

Jarred: Well, I think, you have to just do it. You have to take the chance. Everything is risky. And looking back on it, my idea was so dumb that, “Oh, I’m gonna just do this organically and people are gonna refer to me.” And I mean, I was probably getting one or two referrals at most a month, and that’s just a referral, not a filing. It’s exponential growth by marketing.

Yeah, I could have maybe survived and it would’ve been awful, and maybe right now I’d be finally up to 10 cases. But instead, if you look at those three months, which are sort of busy months, August, September, October of 19, there was no pandemic, that was normal stuff, that was my peak, right? And then we started advertising. , I think we started in October, right? Or November, I can’t remember. But we immediately started and I think within two to three weeks I had matched what I was already doing.

And that hit the nut, if you will. It covered that. And then it was more and more it was going. And so more cases were coming in and so it changed everything.

I couldn’t have done that marketing, like I was saying, I’m the attorney. I can’t go on Google and try to figure that out, that would take me so many hours. And so it’s important to go to the professional and have him do what he’s done. Cause you’ve done… I tell my kids actually a lot. It’s sort of funny the way we found each other (or the way I found you) was a referral and I almost told the original referral referring company, “No.”, I was like, “I don’t think so.” And they were harassing me a little bit. So finally I relented, and I’m like “OK, maybe I’ll try it.”

Bob: Hmm-mmm.

Jarred: And then they referred me to you and I always, I think back to that a lot. Like, you know, you were put there, they were harassing me so that I would get to this point. Because otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this at least.

Bob: Yeah.

Well, I can tell you what would’ve happened to you if you didn’t do bifurcated bankruptcies because I’ve worked with many traditional bankruptcy attorneys and every single one of them ended up firing me, because they basically couldn’t afford me, or were going outta business, or they were gonna try different practice areas.

Jarred: Hmm-mmm.

Bob: So that would’ve been your likely fate if you hadn’t tried bifurcation. And I’m just extrapolating from all those people that did fire me who were doing traditional bankruptcies.

Jarred: Well, yeah, and I think I would’ve probably ended up like my old firm, like, “Oh, I need anything and everything that walks through this door I’m gonna take,” because that’d be what we’re doing.

Bob: Yeah. Well, it’s pretty amazing though, like you’ve gone from two to three cases a month to almost 500 cases in three years. So I just want to end on a positive note and say, I know you’re incredibly modest, but congratulations, you’ve had a lot of success and it’s amazing.

Jarred: Well, thank you. I’m actually shocked at that number, even though I know the monthly numbers. I’ve never done that math. That’s crazy. I appreciate it. And obviously I think I’ve worked hard and done some good work and you’ve definitely helped me along the way and brought those cases to me, so I appreciate that too.

Bob: Awesome. And if anyone doesn’t believe that number, you can go to Pacer and do an advanced party search. It’s “Henline,” H-E-N-L-I-N-E and Jarred is with two R’s.

Jarred: Yeah, I might have to go search it myself.

Bob: Yeah, search for 1/1/2020 to today and as of November 15th, it’s 477. That’s 7s and 13s. And sure, maybe there’s a couple that have been dismissed and refiled or just dismissed or whatever.

Jarred: Yeah.

Bob: Still, as a gross number of cases, it’s still pretty amazing.

Jarred: Yeah. No, that’s awesome.

But, I mean, I don’t refile a lot of people.

Bob: Yeah. Well, it’s been over three years of us working together. I’m actually really excited to see what happens over the next three years.

Jarred: Me too, me too.

Bob: Awesome. Thank you for coming on and chatting with me today. And I’ll just mention here that if you want to work with me to get similar results, you can email me at B-O-B at, or contact me through my website at (just click the contact button), or you can message me on LinkedIn at Bob Hiler, that’s H-I-L-E-R. I’d be happy to chat.

Jarred: And we still have to meet in person by the way.

Bob: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Thanks man. We’ll wind this down and thanks for doing the podcast with me.

Jarred: Thank you.

Bombshell USTP memo finally blesses bifurcated Chapter 7 bankruptcies!

The U.S. Trustee Program has finally blessed bifurcated Chapter 7 bankruptcies, as long as they’re done properly!

Here’s the key sentence from the bombshell memo sent to all the U.S. Trustees on June 10th by Ramona D. Elliott, Acting Director of the U.S. Trustee Program:

Absent contrary local authority, it is the USTP’s position that bifurcated fee agreements are permissible so long as the fees charged under the agreements are fair and reasonable, the agreements are entered into with the debtor’s fully informed consent, and the agreements are adequately disclosed.

So in this podcast episode, I give my overall reaction to this apparent paradigm shift in the UST’s attitude towards bifurcation. Also, it’s a five page memo with 22 footnotes, so I also want to review the USTP’s new positions on all the little things that make bankruptcy such a detail-oriented practice.

Most important, for the first time ever, the USTP is actually giving us a perfect roadmap to follow so that we can offer bifurcated Chapter 7 in bankruptcies 100% safely!

So it’s very important that in the new USTP memo, the USTP articulates for the first time its position on many of these specific issues involved in bifurcation. So all we need to do now is understand the USTP positions and act accordingly, and we’ll be able to offer bifurcated chapter 7 bankruptcies safely , without worry that our local UST will come after us.

So with that in mind, this podcast episode reviews the 14 positions that the USTP articulates in its memo, and lays out that perfect roadmap for any bankruptcy lawyer to follow!


Are Bifurcated Chapter 7s Actually Legal? [Part 2 of 2]

This is the second part of a 2-part episode that answers a simple question:

Are bifurcated Chapter 7s actually legal?

In the first part, I went over 5 specific mistakes that you need to avoid in order to “bulletproof” your bifurcated Chapter 7s from a US Trustee.

In this second part, I update these 5 mistakes with lessons that I’ve learned over the last 2 and a half years, as well as some new case law. In fact, I even added a new mistake based on a recent case out of Missouri (see In re Allen).


Are Bifurcated Chapter 7s Actually Legal? [Part 1 of 2]

If you’ve ever wondered if bifurcated Chapter 7s are actually legal or not, this is the episode for you.

The surprising truth is that after a tidal wave of legal innovation, many bankruptcy lawyers routinely offer zero down Chapter 7s. You just have to follow the arcane rules involving bifurcating your cases into prepetition and postpetition portions. And as it turns out, no judge has ever ruled that a Chapter 7 cannot be bifurcated, so long as it’s done correctly.

This is part 1 of a 2-part episode, where we start by busting the top three bifurcation myths, including:

  1. Why bifurcated Chapter 7s do NOT violate the automatic stay or discharge injunction, even though you’re collecting money postpetition from debtors
  2. How “saddling” poor debtors with a postpetition payment plan for a bifurcated bankruptcy is way better than the alternative of no traditional bankruptcy at all
  3. Why it’s a total myth that there are many US Trustee enforcement actions that prove that bifurcated Chapter 7s are illegal

I also go over the 5 specific mistakes you need to avoid in order to get into hot water with the US Trustee.


Turn 80% of your appointments into clients with Jake Parent’s “Irresistible Bankruptcy Sales Script”​

In this episode of Bankruptcy Law Success, I interview Jake Parent, a sales genius who developed a sales script that’s so effective that it can convert 80% of appointments into retained bankruptcy clients. In fact, it’s so effective that I call it the “Irresistible Bankruptcy Sales Script.”

If you’re a bankruptcy lawyer that’s not converting 80% of your appointments, you need to stop what you’re doing and listen to this podcast. Then you need to listen to it again. And then you need to practice the sales script obsessively and use it for every bankruptcy consultation.


How Don Golden turned himself into a volume bankruptcy filer by firing himself as a lawyer and reinventing his practice

In this episode of Bankruptcy Law Success, I interview Don Golden, a bankruptcy attorney in Brandon, Florida who dominates his local Google “map pack” and files about 40 bankruptcies a month.

In this interview, Don is remarkably candid about how his bankruptcy practice was hobbled by Google’s Penguin update, and how he turned things around by obsessively tracking his numbers and building systems. These are my favorite kinds of interviews, because when bankruptcy attorneys “listens” to their numbers, they end up inventing all sorts of awesome ideas that we can steal…

Some of the highlights in this interview include:


How Dan Garrison helps lawyers maximize their filings with zero-down Chapter 7s

In this episode of Bankruptcy Law Success, I interview Dan Garrison, a bankruptcy attorney who co-founded Fresh Start Funding with Matt Hartley to help other attorneys offer zero-down Chapter 7s.

I learned two things talking to Dan. First, after talking to Dan, I am much more confident that bankruptcy attorneys should go ahead and offer zero-down Chapter 7s today, as long as they do it properly as described in this interview. (I was more wary before.)

Second, I was impressed by Fresh Start’s “mid-single digit” default rate, as well as its revenue share being up to 75% of post-petition fees.

One last thing… In this interview, Dan talks about practices growing by 25-30% after implementing zero-down Chapter 7s. I think Dan is being fairly conservative. From what I’m seeing, once you figure out how to sell zero-down bankruptcies (and you figure out your marketing), you can double or triple your filings.

Some of the highlights in this interview include:


Why Steven Skelton thinks bankruptcy attorneys throw money away when receptionists pick up the phone

In this episode of Bankruptcy Law Success, I interview Steven Skelton, a trained salesperson who answers the phone for his bankruptcy attorney clients.

Steven has spent his career in sales, even before he started helping his wife, Susan Skelton, increase sales at her bankruptcy practice. Simply by exercising his sales muscles, he was able to help his wife’s practice go from a one-room subleased office, to become a consistent top-10 filer in the Eastern District of Missouri.

Some of the highlights in this interview include:


How Michael Hoverson profits by slaying “zombie debts” that bankruptcy ignores (like student loans and tax debt)

In this episode of Bankruptcy Law Success, I interview Michael Hoverson, a bankruptcy lawyer in Minneapolis who has filed bankruptcies for 31 years. Over the years, he’s also noticed that there are many debts that bankruptcy completely ignores.

So he’s learned legal techniques to slay these “zombie debts,” like student loans and tax debts. That’s one reason he’s been able to spend less on marketing, yet still keep busy in a shrinking bankruptcy market.

Some of the highlights in this interview include: