Bankruptcy isn’t the same for everyone. For corporations, there’s reorganizing under Chapter 11 or liquidating under Chapter 7. Municipalities have Chapter 9 at their disposal to gain protection from creditors. Individuals can access Chapter 13 to work out their financial issues.
Not always easy waters to navigate, law firms realize, so many publish blogs on their web sites that cater to all types of bankruptcy filers.
We have studied several of these blogs and developed a buyer’s guide to help prospective filers tap the ones relevant to them.
What we’ve done is separate the different law firm bankruptcy blogs in two major ways when it comes to their intended audiences. One grouping is for blogs geared towards law and finance professionals looking to stay abreast of the legal landscape surrounding bankruptcy. The other category involves blogs for bankruptcy beginners, namely individuals.
But we didn’t stop there. For each blog, no matter which category they are in, we took a four-pronged analytical approach.
First, we looked at readability, especially when it came to addressing either a professional audience or a less sophisticated one.Then we considered a blog’s utility and timeliness when it came to the subjects discussed. We also scored the blogs on their authoritativeness and the knowledge exhibited.
Finally, we gave each blog an overall ranking, looking at more than the sum of its parts and at the final impressions each left with us.
Our scoring system is from 1 (poor) to 5 (best) in the four categories.
These blogs are intended for lawyers and financial advisers who have a solid grasp on the legal landscape of bankruptcy and beyond. Often, the law firms producing these posts take one of two approaches, either providing cut-and-dried updates on new and relevant petitions or taking a deeper dive into legislation and news surrounding bankruptcy.
COLE SCHOTZ P.C.
This national firm (offices in Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas and Florida) presents a variety of bankruptcy-related content. Some posts are straightforward and give notice about upcoming meetings and new case filings. However, this blog also provides longer, more deeply-researched posts that expand on a concept (such as “death trap” provisions). Content is mostly Delaware-centric—-not surprising since the bankruptcy court, along with New York’s, ranks as the nation’s busiest. But there is information here to be gleaned from concepts that extend beyond the state.
Bulleted lists would work better than a narrative format for the cut-and-dried information. Longer pieces strike a balance between using necessary legal terms and approaching the concepts in a conversational tone, often using subheads to break it down.
Posts usually land more frequently than once per week. The mixture of practical info and expansion on broader concepts provides a fuller picture of the bankruptcy landscape.
This blog keeps you up to date but also takes time to unpack legal concepts and provide an in-depth look at more complex topics.
A nice blend of utility and advanced knowledge, with clean organization.
MORRIS NICHOLS ARSHT & TUNNELL
This law firm provides a broader blog of general legal news, and also a new and tidy service-oriented bankruptcy blog that provides updates and summaries of new filings and other notable bankruptcy news. A national firm based in Wilmington, Del., the posts are often specific to the state.
Posts are visually very easy to scan. Essential facts such as lead case number, debtor name and who the presiding judge is are bulleted out. Provides certain documents, such as the lead debtor’s petition and docket. Straightforward tone without excessive technical lingo.
Frequent postings (about once per week), give necessary info to lawyers or journalists who are tracking cases and want to stay current on bankruptcy news. Posts are Delaware-centric. Provides sheer details of cases, not an analysis.
The hard news is there, but there’s no indication of a deeper knowledge, something to remember depending on what you’re looking for in a bankruptcy blog.
A visually appealing and easy-to-navigate format makes application of the info effortless.
WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES
Historically, this New York firm has been a training ground, with many disciples of the legendary Harvey Miller scattered throughout the bankruptcy bar. Weil, Gotshal’s Business Finance & Restructuring Department, which has offices across the U.S., Middle East, Europe, and Asia, publishes the “Bankruptcy Blog.” This blog targets a widespread and international audience and tackles a variety of subjects, from write-ups about specific cases to the taxation of legal marijuana to an explanation of arcane concepts (such as recoupment).
Heavy use of legal terms in lengthy headlines, but longer articles are broken down into subheads (Facts, Analysis, Conclusion, etc).
This isn’t a resource you’ll be visiting for daily news. Instead, it’s a place to go for an analysis of a bankruptcy case’s broader implications. This is something professionals would be reading on lunch breaks in between looking at case docs. The good news: posts are frequent, usually around six per month, sometimes topping out at 16 per month.
Provides a breadth of wide-ranging content and an in-depth survey of the international bankruptcy landscape.
Can be overwhelming to read if you aren’t deeply immersed in the subject matter, but it’s very comprehensive, organized, and geared towards people already profoundly engaged in the field.
HUGHES HUBBARD & REED
Another global firm (New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, Jersey City, Kansas City, Mo., Paris and Tokyo) whose offering would appeal to people anywhere who are already well-versed in both the law and pending legislation surrounding bankruptcy and financial services. May be of particular appeal to journalists because the firm often provides extensive citations within articles.
Use of subheads and bullet points makes heavy use of legal terminology digestible. Frequent references to legislation and citations of previous cases are no doubt helpful to attorneys and journos conducting research.
One or two posts per month, sometimes skipping a month or two. While it’s not very regular or timely, the information is cited and in-depth.
Citations, longer articles, and many references to previous cases and decisions convey a deep well of knowledge.
Exhaustive use of bankruptcy case law, with the opinion backing that professionals will be seeking, makes this blog a must-visit. Only downside: posts can be a bit lengthy and sporadic.
KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP
Powerhouse Chicago-based bankruptcy firm with global presence (Washington, D.C., New York, California, Texas, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Munich, and Shanghai) has a blog that targets attorneys who need to stay on top of developments in the insolvency field. This blog produces original content and also incorporates curated articles from other resources and organizations. Where else are you going to get pieces on sometimes byzantine topics such as “Bankruptcy Reform in Saudi Arabia: Bridging Islamic Law and Modern Bankruptcy?” and “7 Stages Of Grief: Impact of Oil Downturn on Energy Attys.” This blog is decidedly strong when it comes to an international perspective.
Audience for this content appears to be folks who are particularly well-versed in bankruptcy around the globe. But the posts aren’t stuffy. They are nicely broken down frequently under subheads that note background, conclusions, bulleted facts and so on.
Bad news: very sporadic postings, like one every three months. However, the articles are comprehensive and detailed, making them a valuable resource with a longer shelf life in a somewhat niche field.
Highly detailed reports evoke a comprehensiveness, with bulk given to such things as background and conclusions when it comes to cases. Dives into specific issues that can be very arcane, such as “New Guidelines for Protecting Secured Lenders’ Share Foreclosure Rights in German Bankruptcies,” but then again, bankruptcy can be very, very esoteric.
Too sporadic to be counted on, but a useful reference for people conducting research in this field.
These blogs take a service-oriented approach to bankruptcy and aim to demystify the process for people who have no legal training.
DRESCHER & ASSOCIATES
This Baltimore law firm operates in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia takes a public-service approach with its bankruptcy blog, aiming to educate the average individual about court and financial proceedings, such as dealing with student loans and how to keep your tax refund. One unique feature is recorded interviews with attorneys who discuss various scenarios (with transcripts provided.)
Clear and straightforward, with limited legal jargon. Helpful tags in preview of post, and conversational tone in recorded interviews.
Despite infrequency of posts (one every one to three months), this blog answers the questions consumers have.
Provides just enough basic knowledge to prepare you for a chat with your attorney.
More than enough to get someone well-versed for speaking to a lawyer about bankruptcy.
BERNSTEIN – BURKLEY
Provides a “Service Spotlight” feature and Frequently Asked Questions-like articles on topics such as precision litigation, preferences defense, and asset acquisition. While these can be advanced topics, the Pittsburgh law firm that operates in West Virgina and Florida, as well, clearly has created a blog honed in on individuals with zero legal training. This is one of the few blogs that addresses small business owners, as well.
Very colloquial posts that incorporates lots of anecdotes. Sometimes this folksiness obscures the point, however.
While verbose posts sometime obstruct the facts, new narratives surface at a decent frequency of about two to four per month and are geared towards clients.
A little too informal, undermining the content’s credence. The very salesy tone doesn’t help, either.
Offers some very useful info, but it can be hard to dig through the site and find it.
HAYWARD, PARKER, O’LEARY & PINSKY
This Middletown, N.Y., law firm maintains a blog intended for individuals dealing with bankruptcy. Keep an eye on this one—after a three-year break without posting any content, the gears of this blog seem to be turning once more.
Candid and well-written, this blog uses proper terminology without sounding too pretentious.
With posts landing once every one to three months (and with one three-year break), the blog’s freshness is sporadic and unreliable. Even so, the concepts written about aren’t stale.
Very useful and practical info for individuals considering bankruptcy (“Opening a Checking Account After Bankruptcy,” “Surrendering Your House in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy,” “Your Health Savings Account Might Not Be Exempt, Must Spouses File Bankruptcy Jointly?”) because of its step-by-step instructions.
Conveys knowledge you can use in a tone that isn’t preachy. Biggest problem: too unreliable to become a regular source of info.
JCH LAW FIRM
The Alhambra, Calif., law firm organizes topics by tags and provides a beginner’s guide to filing for bankruptcy, approaching topics using questions that actual consumers might have.
A little too informal, as evidenced by the occasional typo. But the blog’s approach to issues with modest phrasing makes it very comfortable for the average individual to use.
Random updates/posts. Info is useful, but the posts are so infrequent that you must do a decent amount of scrolling for more content. Even so, it may pay to go back and review previous posts if you are dealing with bankruptcy yourself.
Because of readability issues and occasional typos, the certitude of the JCH blog is somewhat diminished. It feels like you’re talking to a friend about these issues, which may be great during a romantic breakup but not when it’s something like bankruptcy.
This blog lacks authority and timeliness, but could be a good place to start for complete beginners.
TREZZA & ASSOCIATES, LLC
This Tucson, Ariz.-based law firm’s “for beginners” take on bankruptcy is by far the best of any in this compilation. This is a blog for everyday folk who are filing for bankruptcy and have no idea where to begin or what it means to file for bankruptcy. Provides step-by-step instructions for absolute beginners (property exemptions, necessary papers to start a case, “Dealing with Secured Creditors.”)
Breaks down large chunks of content into manageable pieces using bullet points, subheads, and speaking points. Written in the second person, so it’s as if you’re having a conversation with your lawyer.
Very useful for relaying the basics for the average individual. Only loses a point due to lack of timeliness (posts about once a month, occasionally skipping a month). However, it could be beneficial to go back and scroll through for a primer when you’re beginning to think about filing.
Exhaustive and detailed.
Only loses a point for lack of consistency and timeliness. Overall, however, it’s a great place to launch from when trying to get a handle on the most complex area of law.