South Florida bankruptcy attorney and National Bankruptcy Forum contributor Jeffrey Tromberg recently participated in an interview to discuss the state of the South Florida economy and how it has impacted his bankruptcy practice in Fort Lauderdale. As the managing attorney of the Florida Debt Relief Center, Jeff fielded questions on topics ranging from mortgage modification to common misconceptions about the South Florida bankruptcy process. This post is part one of a two part series, Jeff’s answers are below. To learn more about the bankruptcy process in South Florida or to visit Jeff’s website directly, click here.
How long have you been practicing in the area of bankruptcy in South Florida?
Jeff: “Since May 1991. I have 19+ years of experience as a lawyer in South Florida.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Jeff: “Practicing consumer bankruptcy law in South Florida is one of the few areas in law where you can actually make a big difference in a short amount of time. Let’s face it, the economic downturn has really hit home in South Florida. Most bankruptcy clients have been struggling for debt for years and have lived with stress few others can understand. For these clients, filing bankruptcy puts an immediate end to this stress. Of course, bankruptcy doesn’t help with problems relating to income but it most certainly resolves debt issues one way or another and, most importantly allows the client to move forward with their lives. I enjoy hearing about all of the great things people do once they get the “monkey off their back.”
Is this the worst you’ve seen the South Florida economy?
Jeff: “Absolutely. I’ve been helping people deal with issues like foreclosure for years. But, in the past, people had jobs to fall back on and their problems were caused by temporary setbacks. In today’s economy, especially here in South Florida where unemployment is high and incomes have been stagnant for years (if you are one of the “lucky” ones to actually have a job), saving a home from foreclosure is an almost impossible task for many. Plus, with the fact that roughly 50% of the homes are worth less than the amount owed, the incentive to even try and save a home is often not there. So, yes, these are the toughest times I’ve experienced in South Florida and I don’t expect things to improve for a few more years due to the job market and the housing crisis.”
Where is your office located in South Florida?
Jeff: “My office is located in Plantation in the heart of Broward County on Sunrise Blvd. between University Blvd and Pine Island Blvd. The address is 8551 W. Sunrise Blvd., Suite 300, Plantation, FL 33322.”
Are you active in any consumer law organizations?
Jeff: “Yes, as a South Florida bankruptcy attorney, I currently serve as Florida State Chair for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA). NACBA is the only national organization dedicated to serving the needs of consumer bankruptcy attorneys and protecting the rights of consumer debtors in bankruptcy. It was formed in 1992 and now has more than 5,000 members located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.”
If there was one thing you wish South Florida residents knew about the bankruptcy process what would it be?
Jeff: “I wish more people fully understoof their options and would realize that filing bankruptcy is a legal process with more oversight than any other option. For example, unlike with debt settlement or credit counseling scam artists, a United States Bankruptcy Judge and a Trustee appointed by the U.S. Trustees Office in Washington D.C. actually oversee all bankruptcy cases. In addition, I along with all the other South Florida bankruptcy attorneys had to not only go to college and law school but we receive continuing education all along the way. In other words, there are no less than three professionals with years of experience involved in each case making sure that everything goes well. You cannot say that about a commission-based salesman trying to push unsuspecting Debtors into repayment plans they cannot afford or should never be in from the beginning.”
What types of professions are you seeing filing for bankruptcy in South Florida?
Jeff: “I’ve represented doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. You name it, there are few professions and occupations I haven’t represented over the years. I’ve even represented fellow bankruptcy lawyers. Yes, even bankruptcy lawyers sometmes have to file bankruptcy. I suppose it is easier for us to make that sort of decision because we better understand the truth about bankruptcy and know that the end result is certainly worth it.”
Be on the lookout for part two of our interview with South Florida bankruptcy attorney Jeff Tromberg, appearing on National Bankruptcy Forum later this week.