The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) was founded in 1992 by a small group of attorneys, NACBA now has over 5,000 members across the country. According to their website, NACBA’s primary mission is to “advocate on behalf of consumer debtors and support its members.” NACBA works through its committees and members via legislative action to protect the rights of consumer debtors. They educate bankruptcy attorneys, the media, individuals and organizations about consumer bankruptcy law reform. Most recently NACBA has had to guide these entities while they try to maneuver through the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. This Act had tremendous detrimental effects on consumer debtors and NACBA is actively trying to change these provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.
NACBA is composed of a Board of Directors and Officers, State Chairs, staff and its members. The Board of Directors is NACBA’s governing body. They are elected by its members. The State Chairs are volunteers who “coordinate legislative activities in their area” (NACBA website) and are the local contact for that state’s members, both new and existing. Missouri’s State Chair is Wendell Sherk. NACBA’s staff deals with the hundreds of administrative duties that are essential to the existence of this discourse community. NACBA members must be attorneys. Although they may be retired, judges, trustees or clerks, according to the NACBA website, they have to “support the objective of NACBA.” In other words, they cannot represent the interests of creditors.
NACBA regularly communicates with its members, the courts, national and local legislative bodies, and the media. NACBA mainly communicates with its members via listserv, conventions/seminars and direct mail. NACBA’s listserv is really quite impressive and as a bankruptcy paralegal, I find it extremely useful. Almost all posts evolve into major discussions, so you get an immense amount of information from a single post. Attorneys use the listserv primarily to ask questions. Typically they have a client with situation “x” and want to know what they should do about it. There are always lots of immediate, helpful responses. Nine times out of ten, other members have dealt with this situation before and will attach forms, motions, decisions, disclaimers and letters that may be useful.
Wendell Sherk (the State Chair for Missouri mentioned earlier) has created a local listserv not affiliated with NACBA, known as DAMSL (Debtors Attorneys of Metro Saint Louis). This listserv is primarily used to ask questions, but is helpful, as laws do vary across the country so the information you get is specific to your district.
The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) communicates with the general public in a few different ways. First of all NACBA has an impressive website that everyone can browse. You can read all about NACBA as an association and their various missions. You can look up your local officials as well as local attorneys that may be able to help you. You can also browse the latest legislative and NACBA related news. This site is important to visit every once in a while, as the laws are always changing and as a consumer it is important to be aware of legislature that may affect your rights.
NACBA also holds an annual convention, which, according to the NACBA website, consists of seminars on “topics solely devoted to consumer bankruptcy law, such as recent developments in the law, ethics, tax, and law office management and also cutting-edge issues of the day, ranging from credit reporting and scoring to attacking mortgage servicing claims.” This convention provides an extraordinary amount of beneficial, up to date information in a field where the laws are constantly changing
NACBA communicates with the courts via amicus briefs. An amicus brief is a brief submitted to the court by a party that is neither a plaintiff nor defendant in the actual case, but has an interest in the outcome. NACBA will file amicus briefs for Supreme, appellate, and lower court cases which “will significantly impact consumer rights.” (NACBA website). Their briefs have had a great deal of impact on some landmark cases. Since NACBA is not a practicing law firm, they cannot bring any actions with the courts by directly filing a case, so these briefs are the best way they can communicate their interests to the court and ultimately impact the outcome of a case.
NACBA communicates with the media via periodic press releases. These press releases provide “information about its activities and commentary about news events affecting the practice of consumer and small business bankruptcy.” This is incredibly important, as we are all consumers and the general public does need to be aware of laws that may have a great deal of impact on their rights.