The Stubbs Bankruptcy Clinic
Having served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for over 20 years, Campbell Law Dean J. Rich Leonard saw first-hand the challenges and difficulties faced by people who need and deserve the protection of federal bankruptcy laws but are unable to afford quality representation. With this experience in mind, he led the effort to create the Stubbs Bankruptcy Clinic, which began operation in January 2014.
Working under the supervision of clinic director David F. Mills, an attorney in private practice with a long history of representing clients in bankruptcy court, the students gain experience in areas such as client interviewing and fact gathering, client counseling, analyzing options and potential outcomes, observing deadlines, and client communication. As opportunities arise, students may also appear in court on behalf of their clients. In short, students have the chance to use the skills and knowledge they learn in law school to help real clients with real problems.
The clinic receives referrals from legal services, private attorneys, the bankruptcy trustees, as well as the court when a person’s pro se efforts appear to affect the proper administration of justice.
Students have a unique opportunity to engage with debtor and creditor attorneys, courtroom staff, trustees, the Bankruptcy Administrator’s office, federal judges, and, most important, real clients. This opportunity is enhanced by the clinic’s location in the Century Station Federal Building on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, where the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina holds court.
Students involved in the clinic have recently handled matters as varied as:
* Counseling clients, gathering information, and preparing the documents to file Chapter 7 liquidation cases, and appearing at statutory meetings with the trustee with the client.
* Preparing, filing, and prosecuting a Chapter 11 case—a complex type of bankruptcy—in order to help a disabled woman with two children stop a foreclosure, lower her mortgage payments, and keep her home.
* Defending a college student who is not involved in a bankruptcy case, but who was nonetheless sued by a Chapter 7 trustee seeking to take away property intended for the student by his great-grandmother.
* Preparing, filing, and prosecuting Chapter 13 cases, and preparing and filing reorganization plans by which the clients avoided foreclosures and stayed in their homes.
* Helping a gentleman reopen a closed bankruptcy case in order to seal private confidential information that had been filed publicly in his case by his previous attorney.
* Going to court to help a man who was being harassed by a debt collector in violation of the bankruptcy laws.
* Acting as primary contact with the clients, returning phone calls, preparing the clients for court appearances, and keeping the clients informed as to the status of their cases.
A maximum of eight students are enrolled in the clinic each semester, with preference given to third-year students. In addition to one classroom session per week, students are also expected to perform three or more hours of clinical work each week.
The clinic is named in honor of prominent North Carolina bankruptcy attorney Trawick “Buzzy” Stubbs, Jr.