Call Now!
Call Us 414-326-9231 608-260-7133 Text Us 414-326-4709
${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}

Attorney Miller quoted in Journal Sentinel regarding decline in Bankruptcy Filings

Bankruptcies ease in U.S., state

By Paul Gores of the Journal Sentinel

July 25, 2011 |(1) Comments

BANKRUPT26G.gif

Bankruptcy filings in Wisconsin and the nation are running behind last year's pace, but attorneys say it's too soon to know whether the wave of filings triggered by the economic downturn has crested.

Still, at least in some lawyers' offices, the number of people coming in to declare themselves insolvent has slowed slightly. And more of those filing for bankruptcy today are people who at one time were higher on the economic scale. That compares with many of those who filed earlier in the recession - people who were living paycheck to paycheck and folded quickly when their income was cut, lawyers said.

"I think those that we're seeing now are those who were able to survive the downturn - people who were self-employed, people who had higher-paying jobs, were able to tap into retirement accounts and use the credit card but make the minimum payments," said James Miller, of Miller & Miller in Milwaukee. "There is just not that same mass of people as those who fit into the first category."

U.S. Bankruptcy Court records show bankruptcy filings fell 8.4% in the first half of 2011 in Wisconsin, to 14,682 from 16,024 in January through June 2010. About 80% were Chapter 7 filings, which wipe out debt on things such as credit cards, medical expenses and utility bills.

The Wisconsin numbers mirror a decrease in consumer bankruptcies nationally. There were 709,303 filings in the United States in the first six months of 2011, an almost 8% decrease from 770,117 during the same span in 2010, according to American Bankruptcy Institute.

"What we're seeing is still high filings, but off the peak," said David Leibowitz, founder and managing member of LakeLaw in Milwaukee and Kenosha. "I don't think we can take a great deal of comfort in it. But I do think that there's a direct correlation between the economy and unemployment on one hand and the bankruptcy statistics on the other hand."

Madison bankruptcy attorney Claire Ann Resop of von Briesen & Roper said people who had been making at least midlevel incomes are among those she sees more frequently. Among those on the list: teachers, nurses, sales people, tradesmen, homebuilders and truckers.

"They had higher income and they had more resources to try to keep up for a while," she said.

Milwaukee attorney Robert Waud said he was "kind of surprised" to hear the number of filings in the state declined.

"It's pretty steady coming in the door," he said.

Small-business owners, trades people and land developers are common bankruptcy filers, he said.

Waud, of Todd C. Esser & Associates, isn't convinced bankruptcy filings have peaked, even if the half-year trend is down from a year ago.

"I think it's too soon to say," he said.

Miller said restraints on credit since the start of the recession and financial crisis have cut the likelihood of people charging huge debts that end up in bankruptcy.

"Credit companies aren't taking as many risks on people, so there are not as many credit-related defaults," Miller said.

Lawyers said issues that historically have led to bankruptcy remain the big factors - uninsured major medical costs, divorce and job loss.

"The problem still, as far as I'm concerned, is there are not enough people working," Waud said.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Free Case Evaluation

* indicates required field

Miller & Miller Law, LLC
  • VISA
  • Master Cards
  • Discover
Milwaukee Office map Madison Office map Kenosha Office map

633 W Wisconsin Ave, Suite 500
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Phone: 414-312-6581
Fax: 414-277-1303
Milwaukee Office

2810 Crossroads Drive
Suite 4001
Madison, WI 53718

Phone: 608-260-7133
Madison Office

6123 Green Bay Road
Suite 210
Kenosha, WI 53142

Phone: 262-326-1669
Kenosha Office

Appleton Office
4321 W. College Ave.
Suite 200
Appleton, WI 54914

Phone: 920-280-3838
Appleton Office

Brookfield Office
200 S. Executive Drive
Suite 101
Brookfield, WI 53005

Phone: 262-261-0665
Brookfield Office

Glendale Office
6333 N. Green Bay Avenue
Glendale, WI 53209

Phone: 414-973-8662
Glendale Office

Fax: 414-277-1303 - We also have offices in Appleton, Glendale and Brookfield to better serve you.