Values and History
A lifelong resident of Maine, I graduated from Bowdoin College summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa where I met my wife, Carrie McGilvery, a Yarmouth native. I briefly pursued a career in Antique auctioneering before attending Boston College Law School. There, I was a writer for the Uniform Commercial Code Reporter Digest. After I graduated from law school in 2005, I returned to Maine, where I have practiced exclusively in the fields of consumer and small business bankruptcy and consumer law in Saco, later in Auburn, and since 2009, in Portland.
I pride myself on offering one-on-one communication with my clients, at a low cost. Many bankruptcy lawyers divide up the work between the partner, associates and paralegals. However, I have found that practice makes my clients uneasy. When you call me for a free consultation, you can be assured that you will meet with me. We will discuss all of the options available, whether you are facing a foreclosure, consumer law issue, or debt management issue. My paralegal Adrianna and I will work with you to determine the best course of action, whether that is seeking a loan modification, mediating a foreclosure, pursuing debt settlement, debt consolidation (unfortunately, I don’t offer this service, but will put you in touch with someone who does), or Chapter, 7, 11, 12, or 13 bankruptcy. When there are court hearings, I will be the lawyer attending them, and I do my very best to answer all emails and calls personally, though Adrianna is an experienced paralegal and can always help when I’m not available. I find that having one lawyer follow a case from start to finish enables that lawyer to better represent his clients and gives the clients a sense of security and certainty in a stressful time.
Chapter 7 is a 90-120 day process that discharges most debts. It is primarily used to eliminate credit card, medical, and utility debts and personal loans. Most property can be protected during this process. The average cost at my office is less than $1,800.00, inclusive of court fees, an uber credit report and all credit counseling fees.
Chapter 13 is a 3-5 year repayment plan, in which you repay what you can afford to your creditors. It can also be used to eliminate second mortgages in some instances, repay income tax debt while eliminating most penalties and freezing interest, or “cram down” debt to the value on many cars or business equipment. Some people use it to protect property that can’t be protected in Chapter 7. The average up front cost at my office (there are additional fees paid through the plan) is less than $1,800.00 including all fees and costs.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is similar to Chapter 13 in that you repay what you can afford over 3-5 years. Unlike Chapter 13, it is available to people with more than $395,000 unsecured debt or around $1,200,000 secured debts (mortgages) and to businesses seeking to reorganize. A new version of Chapter 11, Subchapter V, offers many of the benefits of Chapter 13 for small businesses and individuals with too much debt for Chapter 13. Chapter 12 is available to family farmers and fisherman. It offers greater benefits that Chapter 13. Particularly, it allows people to modify their loans by changing terms and potentially stretching out their repayments on mortgages, fishing boats and faming equipment up to 10 years or more.
A Common alternative to bankruptcy is debt settlement. Beware of debt settlement companies! Most offer an attractive monthly payment, but do little or no work until their fees (around 15% of the total debt) are paid. In the meantime, creditors continue calling, charging interest, and often file lawsuits! We accept lump sums in escrow, negotiate settlements (usually around 40-60%) and get the accounts closed quickly. However, any time debt is settled, you may get a 1099 for the amount forgiven, which the IRS considers income to you.
Homeowners have a right to mediation in foreclosure. We can use that as a vehicle to get a loan modification that might otherwise take a year or more to be approved. We often modify a first mortgage through mediation, then file Chapter 13 to eliminate a second mortgage or home equity loan. If no modification is available or the one offered is not affordable, Chapter 13 lets you cure the arrearage over up to 5 years.
Whether you are in bankruptcy or dealing with a debt collector, there are laws protecting your rights. Often creditors and debt collectors violate those rights. We can determine if you have a claim for monetary damages and pursue that claim on your behalf, frequently at no cost to you.
While I focus my practice on representing consumers, I also represent individuals who have claims against other people in bankruptcy. Just because someone files bankruptcy doesn’t mean an ex-spouse or wronged lender doesn’t have rights. However, there may be a very short time to take action to protect those rights.
Maine Bankruptcy Lawyer video