What is the Bankruptcy Clinic?
The Bankruptcy Clinic is a cooperative project between Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Oregon Law Center, and the Oregon State Bar Debtor-Creditor Section that provides information and, in some cases, representation to clients who are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy or who are already in U.S. Bankruptcy Court as pro se litigants. There are currently clinics operating in the Portland, Oregon City, Beaverton, and Bend areas. Each clinic holds classes which give you information about consumer and bankruptcy law. You will learn what bankruptcy can and can't do, your rights in dealing with creditors and collection agencies, what it means to be "judgment-proof," and what you might be able to do instead of filing for bankruptcy.
After the class, volunteer lawyers meet with clients who have previously made appointments through Legal Aid.
All of the lawyers and judges involved with the Bankruptcy Clinic are volunteering their time, and therefore offer their services at no charge to clients.
Who Can Get Help at the Bankruptcy Clinic?
Anyone who is thinking about filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or who would like more information about bankruptcy, can come to the class. You do not need to make an appointment to come to the classes in the Portland Metro area. However, only people living in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill, Columbia, Hood River or Wasco County, who have low incomes and limited assets, can meet with one of the lawyers. If you are scheduled for an appointment, the lawyer will review your case and tell you if you would be helped by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is appropriate for you, the volunteer lawyer may be able to represent you.
In the Central Oregon Region, Residents of Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties, and the Warm Springs Reservation should call should call the Central Oregon Regional Office in Bend at (541) 385-6944 to register for the clinic. Appointments with volunteer attorneys are arranged after the clinic.
What Kind of Cases Does the Bankruptcy Clinic Handle?
The Bankruptcy Clinic is for people who are interested in filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Usually, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges unsecured debts, in exchange for you giving up property that is not exempt. "Unsecured debt" is money that you owe to a creditor, when you have not given the creditor a security interest in the property. For example, medical bills and most credit card bills are unsecured debts, while mortgages and most car loans are not unsecured debts. Some debts, like child support, cannot be discharged.
How Much Does It Cost?
There is no charge for the class or the volunteer attorney's time. However you may be charged for out-of-pocket costs, such as copying costs, long distance telephone charges and similar expenses. If you file for bankruptcy, you will have to pay the court fees. The filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $299, which can be paid in installments.
How Can I Get an Appointment?
There are a limited number of appointments for each clinic. If you are low-income and live in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill, Columbia, Hood River or Wasco County, you can call Legal Aid to schedule an appointment. Call your local office (listed below) to obtain an informational packet about the Bankruptcy Clinic. It will contain information about the recent changes to the bankruptcy laws and information about how to be scheduled for an appointment.
Clients in Clackamas, Hood River, Multnomah or Wasco Counties should call the Portland Regional Office at (503) 224-4086 or (888) 610-8764.
Clients in Washington, Yamhill or Columbia Counties should call the Hillsboro Regional Office of Oregon Law Center at (503) 640-4115 or (877) 296-4076.
Clients in Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties, and the Warm Springs Reservation should call the Central Oregon Regional Office in Bend at (541) 385-6944 to register for the clinic.
What Should I Do to Get Ready For My Appointment?
The Legal Aid office will mail you a questionnaire that you MUST FILL OUT and bring to your appointment. You should give complete and honest information about your income, property and debts, so that the lawyer can help you.
What if I Need Help Before the Next Bankruptcy Clinic?
If you need immediate help, the Bankruptcy Clinic may not be able to assist you. The Debtor-Creditor Section of the Oregon State Bar and Legal Aid are not able to respond to emergencies involving bankruptcy.
The Oregon State Bar has taped information about bankruptcy issues available by telephone. Call Tel-Law at (503) 620-3000 or 1-800-452-4776, if you are outside of the Portland area.
If you would like to hire a lawyer, the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to a lawyer in your area. Call (503) 684-3763 or 1-800-452-7636, if you are outside of the Portland area. Or call the Lewis and Clark Legal Clinic at (503) 768-6500 (this clinic is not able to take emergency cases or cases outside the Multnomah County area).