Consumer Bankruptcy Journal Spring 2015 - Page 27

Judge Spotlight new phrase: “I’m sorry your honor, but”, or, “I don’t mean to upset you, your honor, but”, or “with apologies,” but scrap “with all due respect.” 14. What do you think are the most important attributes of a successful bankruptcy practitioner? Creativity, flexibility, good people skills. The more senior you get in practice, the less what you do has to do with what the law is because you either know that or you have an associate to research it for you. And the facts are what they are and you can’t change that. So your job as a bankruptcy practitioner is to take whatever the law is, and whatever the facts are and to manipulate the humans through it in a rational, and hopefully cost effective way. So I think listening to your client and listening to the other side is critical. I think your reputation is important -- a reputation for saying what you mean and meaning what you say. People should be able to rely on the fact that, when you promise something, you are going to do it, and, ideally, that you have a good read on where your client is coming from so that you can accurately predict what he or she will or won’t be willing to do. And good writing skills are always important. 15. What common mistakes do you see practitioners make and what remedies would you suggest? Well, you’ve got to have good calendaring system, some good way of managing what’s going on with your cases, and adequate staffing. I understand there is a reason you want to practice on your own, and that it is very hard to afford someone to work for you, but cases require attention and require time. There are some lawyers that do a great job of bringing in the work but do a terrible job staffing and actually working their cases. So if you happen to be one of those fortunate people who can bring the work in, don’t bring in more than you can actually do because the cases are going to tank and you are not going to do anyone any favors. They should call someone like you. That’s what you’re there for, right? (Thanks for the plug Your Honor). This is a total pet peeve and this only comes up in trial, but I tell everybody this at every pre-trial conference. I do most of my evidentiary hearings with direct testimony by declaration and then have attorneys bring their witnesses for live cross examination. The direct testimony declarations come in with the exhibits attached to them because you need to lay a foundation for the exhibits to come in. What I don’t want to have happen is for people to come in with their exhibits books and tab their exhibits as one thing, and when they filed their declarations, they tabbed their exhibits as something entirely different. So we spend two hours at a trial going through what exhibit is what. Pick a letter or number -- and I have instructions in my trial procedures as to who uses letters and who uses numbers -- but assign one letter or number to the exhibit and whenever you use it, call it that. I don’t care if you give me a declaration that has exhibits A, F, B, Q in that order. I don’t care as long as every time I look at exhibit Q, it is always exhibit Q, and not a different document. This seems really basic but it is a constant problem. 16. What are your goals for Central District California? To find out what our goals are. I mean, clearly I want us to keep functioning effectively and serving the public well in a diminishing resource environment, and so that’s kind of the overarching goal - to do a good job no matter what obstacles may be thrown in our path. But, other than that, in terms of what needs to be done or what isn’t working, I don’t know what the problems are that need to be fixed yet. I’m out there trying to find out. I encourage people to tell National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Spring 2015 me if there is H