Interview with Attorney Tracey Wheeler
#1: What made you choose a career in bankruptcy law?
Initially, our firm did not practice bankruptcy law. However, immediately before the implementation of the 2005 bankruptcy reform laws, many of our clients expressed an interest in filing bankruptcy. Once we began to take on these cases, we were really pleased to be able to give our clients the relief and peace of mind they sought so we began to focus our practice more heavily in this area.
#2: In your opinion, what sets your bankruptcy firm apart from other firms in the area?
Our philosophy is very different from many of the firms in the area. First and foremost, we are truly committed to treating our clients as individuals and we are committed to the community we serve. None of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouths and we all had to work really hard to get where we are. We can relate on a personal level to people from all walks of life and we enjoy interacting with the community. We often volunteer our services at various legal forums that are free and open to the public because we believe everyone is entitled to be educated about their rights and to have access to good legal representation.
#3: Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of:
One of our clients was told by several other attorneys that she did not qualify for a Chapter 7 because her income was too high. However, these attorneys had not taken the time to really explore the client's individual situation and to look at the various options that would enable her to meet the Means Test (income test for Chapter 7). The client was adamant that she did not want to do a Chapter 13, and once we did a thorough assessment of her situation we were pleased to inform her that despite her high income level, she was still able to qualify for a Chapter 7. Needless to say, she was very happy and we were glad to be able to assist her.
#4: What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
With every case, we pay special attention to the client's unique situation and we always explore all available options. We stay educated on the law and trends, and we make sure we fully advise our clients of all the options and give them our honest assessment of where things stand. We do not sugar coat the difficult aspects of a client's situation, because we believe an informed client is an empowered client.
#5: How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
Our role is to be an expert on the law, but we do not make decisions for our clients. We prefer to educate our clients and arm them with the information they need to make informed decisions on all matters.
#6: What sets you apart from other attorneys – why is this important?
We truly care about the quality of our services and the relationships we establish with our clients. Some attorneys are more about the bottom line and really do not care about the final outcome or its effect on the client. This is important because legal proceedings are stressful and scary for most people. We make sure we remind ourselves that what has become routine to us can be terrifying to our clients. Empathy and compassion often means just as much to our clients as our legal expertise. These things go hand and hand, however, many attorneys forget this or have never learned it.
#7: How does having experience benefit your clients?
Having experience allows our clients to breathe a little easier knowing that we are equipped to handle their legal matter. Again, legal proceedings can be scary to some people, so having an attorney who can explain the process, educate the client, and give an honest assessment of the client's case takes a lot of pressure off the client.
#8: What types of cases do you specifically handle?
We handle Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. We also practice in the areas of Family Law, Probate/Estate Planning and Administration, and Real Estate Law.
#9: In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Helping others. At the end of the day, people come to attorneys seeking a resolution to a problem. It is the attorney's job to figure out the most advantageous solution to a client's problem. Being able to assist clients in navigating some their most difficult challenges is very satisfying and rewarding.
#10: What advice do you most often give your clients & why?
We tell our clients that they are not alone. Often times, clients feel uneasy discussing the intricate details of their lives. We let them know that we are there to help, not judge.