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Meet Michael Benson – How COVID-19 Impacted Bankruptcy Lawyers

Today we have selected Michael Benson to take his interview. He is an Attorney and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) of Bankruptcy Lawyers. 

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

We’re doing okay. It’d be very remiss of me not to mention that these last two years dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19 have been difficult. However, A Bankruptcy Law Firm, LLC is a family-owned business that has been operating since 2007. We’ve survived some rough years, like the market slump during the ‘08 housing crash.

We’re still chugging along, and I know we’ll be able to serve our communities for years to come. I’ve had to work many late nights this year, and I’m hoping for a more balanced schedule in 2022. 

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded A Bankruptcy Law Firm, LLC.

Before attending law school, I was an accountant at EdwardJones, responsible for external financial reporting to the SEC. Working with numbers and finances has always been a passion. I was working long days and taking on a lot of responsibilities at EdwardJones. 

I decided I wanted to try to go into business for myself. I went to law school and received my Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law. I initially opened a practice focused on family law and estate planning. While I did enjoy helping couples amicably separate, I wasn’t as involved in financial matters as I wanted to be. 

I pivoted to bankruptcy law, and A Bankruptcy Law Firm, LLC was formed. To this day, I’m still one of only a handful of attorneys to possess a CPA license and a Series 7 license. 

What has A Bankruptcy Law Firm, LLC done to innovate and remain competitive?

We are constantly trying to invest in better technology and streamline our processes to offer our clients the lowest possible rates. We offer some of the lowest prices for filing a bankruptcy in our area. We’re also very transparent about our pricing, which isn’t always the case with law firms. We have a bankruptcy pricing page, where we break out exactly what it’ll cost a potential client to file bankruptcy and what expenses are included. There are no gimmicks or additional fees – we charge a true flat rate. 

We also try to meet clients’ needs in any way possible. We started offering remote video consultations in 2020. In most cases, almost every interaction with our clients can be done remotely. Usually, the only in-person meeting required is the meeting of creditors. I think many of our clients appreciate handling most of their bankruptcy without having to travel. 

How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you Coping?

Demand for bankruptcy works contrary to how you think it would work. When times are tough, people don’t want to file bankruptcy because they don’t want to fall into accumulating more debt after bankruptcy. People tend to file bankruptcy when they get a new job or when the market appears to be growing because they know they’ll truly be able to have a fresh start after bankruptcy. 

Covid created a lot of uncertainty, so the demand for bankruptcy dipped. Even now, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with the various variants floating around, labor shortages, and the possibility of continued inflation. We’re still filing cases, but the demand for bankruptcy is lower than it would usually be.  

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Yes, like many small businesses, we had to make some difficult decisions. We had to let go of one of our attorneys because the work was so sparse. When the pandemic first hit, we had paused our marketing efforts for a few months. I think that was a mistake because the competitors that were still advertising were able to get ahead. If we were to do it all over again, we would have sacrificed other areas within the budget and kept the marketing budget healthy. 

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We’ve been using Zoom to host remote meetings with clients. We’ve also started sending out SMS messages with Twilio for appointments and review reminders. 

How do you plan to stay in the game?

We’ve ramped up our digital marketing efforts to remain competitive online. We’re gearing up for a stronger advertising push as we approach tax season for 2022. We have some of the most competitive pricing in the market, and we go above and beyond for our clients. It’s just a matter of getting our firm out in front of more people that could use our help. 

Any final thoughts or closing remarks?

Bankruptcy is legal protection you hope you’ll never have to take advantage of, but life tends to throw unexpected curve balls. If you’re struggling with debt in St. Louis or Southern Illinois, we are here to help. Filing for bankruptcy isn’t something to be ashamed of. The federal government has awarded all US citizens this protection, and it’s designed to be used by those who need it. 

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