Access to Bankruptcy Court is a nonprofit corporation formed by a group of Detroit-area civic-minded bankruptcy professionals to provide bankruptcy representation to low income pro se debtors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Access to Bankruptcy Court currently serves clients in the Eastern District of Michigan.
Without counsel, debtors file their bankruptcy petitions pro se – often with disastrous outcomes, including dismissal of their cases and denial of a bankruptcy discharge to which they would otherwise be entitled. Although bankruptcy judges and trustees try to help pro se debtors, there is only so much they can do within the confines of their respective roles; especially considering that Detroit-area bankruptcy judges have the heaviest caseloads in the nation. Courts and bankruptcy trustees spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to educate pro se debtors but the sheer number of pro se debtors slows down the bankruptcy courts.
Access to Bankruptcy Court accepts tax-deductible donations from members of the Michigan bar and other professionals working in the bankruptcy area, such as financial advisers, appraisers, auctioneers and real estate brokers. The donations are used to pay consumer bankruptcy attorneys a reduced flat fee to represent low income debtors at no cost to the debtors. Access to Bankruptcy Court is an Access to Justice Fund with the State Bar of Michigan Foundation so that donations to Access to Bankruptcy Court can satisfy the state Bar of Michigan's Pro Bono Standards of monetary contributions in lieu of pro bono hours of service.
To qualify for an Access to Bankruptcy Court panel attorney, the debtor must fill out an application showing that they have income at or below 150% of the Poverty Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.