Certified Bankruptcy Law Specialists

It’s important to file your bankruptcy with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.

One of the saddest things we see in our office are people who have already filed their own bankruptcy case and then have run into problems. Sometimes they hired a person who is not an attorney to prepare the bankruptcy papers — or they hired an attorney who really does not understand bankruptcy law. They may have filed the bankruptcy case to save their home from foreclosure or their car from repossession and now they have a big problem because the papers were not done right.

Here are some examples of the problems people can have if they filed a bankruptcy case on their own (or with bad advice) before coming into our office:

  • the Chapter 7 trustee proceeds to sell their home
  • the mortgage lender asks the court for permission to continue with foreclosure in a Chapter 7 case
  • the Chapter 7 trustee is demanding that they turn over a tax refund, a car, or other assets
  • the United States Trustee is challenging their bankruptcy papers which seem to show that the person has too much income and should pay the creditors
  • the person filed a Chapter 13 case that has not been calculated correctly requires the person to pay creditors much more than the Bankruptcy Code requires

Many times, after we analyze the true situation and review the papers already filed in the person’s case, the problem can be resolved by filing corrected papers with the court. Sometimes, though, the person’s case was so improperly filed that, while the situation may be improved by correcting the papers, much damage has already been done to the person because he or she did not locate expert legal advice before filing the case.

The vast majority of bankruptcy cases that are not filed with attorney representation (pro se cases) have major problems and most of them are thrown out of court (dismissed). A failed case often leaves the people in much worse condition than before the bad case was filed. This is a serious problem nationwide, including in our area.  The Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles was so concerned about it that it studied the problem for several years.,

Filing a bankruptcy is similar to playing a card game with your creditors, only you have to play your hand with the cards face up and they don’t. What counts in a bankruptcy case is not whether you can pull a hidden ace out of your hand, but how you lay out the cards in your hand on the table by preparing your bankruptcy paperwork.

An expert bankruptcy attorney can lay out your hand with the best patterns of the cards to best protect your assets and your income as much as possible. You do not want to dump your cards on the table and let your creditors or the trustee arrange them in the worst possible way for you.

Representing debtors in bankruptcy is a science, but also an art. Norma and Jim take pride in their expertise in both of these aspects of bankruptcy law representation.

And filing with a Certified Bankruptcy Law Specialist is even better!

The designation of Certified Bankruptcy Law Specialist is granted by the California Bar Association’s Board of Legal Specialization.  In order to become a certified specialist within a field, an attorney needs to:

  • Have practiced bankruptcy law for at least the last five years.
  • Have taken a minimum of 45 hours of California Board of Legal Specialization approved bankruptcy legal education.
  • Have passed a special bankruptcy competency test given by the California Board of Legal Specialization.
  • The California Board of Legal Specialization reviews his or her reputation within the bankruptcy community, which may include evaluations by other bankruptcy attorneys, judges, and trustees.

Does a Certified Bankruptcy Law Specialist charge more than a regular attorney?

Jim Gold and Norma Hammes are two of only seven Bankruptcy Law Specialists certified by the California Bar’s Legal Board of Specialization in Santa Clara County. We do not charge any more than a regular attorney and we follow the Bankruptcy Court’s schedule of attorneys fees in Chapter 13 cases. Unfortunately, some attorneys who have no expertise at all often charge much more money than prescribed by the Bankruptcy Court.

Why Gold & Hammes?

At Gold & Hammes, we only represent consumers and small businesses in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. We never represent creditors, trustees, or multi-million (or billion) dollar corporations. Our priority is helping you protect your property, wipe out as much of your debt as possible, and get a second chance at life.

As noted above, Jim Gold and Norma Hammes are two of only eleven certified bankruptcy law specialists in Santa Clara County. Gold & Hammes has been helping consumers and small businesses file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for over 40 years. Jim and Norma are co-founders of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, the only organization of consumer bankruptcy attorneys in the U.S.  Norma and Jim are leaders in the consumer bankruptcy community, both locally and nationally.

We offer free initial consultations with an experienced bankruptcy attorney — in most cases, Norma Hammes. Jim Gold will also help with your case.

We want to help you build a brighter future. If you have any questions you can message us through this website or you can call to schedule a free consultation.

Regional Application

This information is only applicable to people who live in Santa Clara County, California, USA. In the USA, the bankruptcy law is a federal law that applies in all states. The property that can be protected (“exempted”) by people who file bankruptcy is prescribed by state law, however. Bankruptcy, property, and exemption law is further affected by court decisions that apply in certain geographic areas. If you live in the USA, but are outside of Santa Clara County, please consult an attorney in your own area.

General Information

The information contained in this web site is general in nature. Bankruptcy law is extremely complex and it is easy to misunderstand how a general description might or might not apply to you personally. In order to find out how this information applies to you personally, you will need to discuss it in detail with one of our attorneys.

Debt Relief Agency

Federal law states that attorneys who represent people in bankruptcy cases are “debt relief agencies.” Gold and Hammes represents people (and small businesses) in bankruptcy – in fact, that is the only type of law we practice. Therefore, Gold and Hammes is a debt relief agency.