Bifurcated Fees Under Examination

Bankruptcy and appellate courts in increasing numbers are considering whether it is appropriate for debtors filing for Chapter 7 relief and attorneys representing them to enter into bifurcated fee agreements. It has been recognized that one of the reasons that debtors may decide to file Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7 is that attorneys require payment of the Chapter 7 fee “up front. Up-front payment is sought because, under the Bankruptcy Code, a debtor’s pre-petition commitment to pay attorney fees after the bankruptcy filing may be discharged as part of the bankruptcy process. The system created . . .

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William-1_print_2019
Editor/Adviser, Academy for Consumer Bankruptcy Education

The Honorable William Houston Brown retired in 2006 as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Western District of Tennessee, and he had been designated to sit also in the Middle District of Tennessee, Southern District of Florida, Eastern District of Michigan and Western District of Kentucky. Judge Brown served a four-year term on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Sixth Circuit from 1999 through 2002. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he was Order of the Coif. Judge Brown is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, having served on its Board and Executive Committee, and he is a Fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy. He is the author or co-author of several texts, including Bankruptcy Exemption Manual, 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Legislation with Analysis 1st and 2d editions, Bankruptcy and Domestic Relations Manual, The Law of Debtors and Creditors, as well as bankruptcy form books, all published by Thomson West. He is also a principal contributing editor for Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice 3rd, published by Thomson West. Judge Brown prepares a quarterly update of consumer cases for the Federal Judicial Center, which distributes those materials to all bankruptcy judges, and he is a speaker at the Federal Judicial Center’s annual seminars for bankruptcy judges. He also speaks regularly at seminars throughout the United States, on consumer bankruptcy topics. Judge Brown co-authors Chapter 13 Bankruptcy 4th ed., a digital publication, available at ch13online.com. Judge Brown also acts as a mediator in bankruptcy-related disputes, has conducted mock trials, and has testified as an expert witness in bankruptcy court proceedings.

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