Two-contract legal agreements deemed legal, a boost for lower-economic communities
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 17, 2021 Van Horn Law Group, P.A. today won a case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida (Case No. 20-8268-LMI), confirming a more affordable process for attorneys to provide bankruptcy services to underserved, low-income communities. In addition, the win ensures a more reasonable option to paying thousands of fees upfront prior to the bankruptcy filing.
Chief Judge Laurel M. Isicoff sided with Van Horn Law Group, its founding partner Chad Van Horn, and attorney Melissa Goolsarran Ramnauth who argued the matter for the firm in a case alleging the firm violated federal bankruptcy law by offering two-contract legal agreements in Chapter 7 cases. These bifurcated agreements – an initial contract and fee for filing bankruptcy and a second contract to complete the bankruptcy process with the fee paid over time with no interest – enables low-income individuals to access the bankruptcy process.
“The legal system should be open to everyone in need, not just those who can afford it,” said Van Horn. “We structure our agreements to help those in dire financial need – many of whom are already facing wage garnishments and barely making ends meet when they come to us. Requiring full payment before filing bankruptcy shuts out low-income communities and denies them access to quality representation for their bankruptcy filing. Our firm is committed to serving individuals and families of every economic stratum, particularly those who struggle the most.”
While Van Horn’s two-contract business model enables the company to fight for low-income clients – having used this process for more than 2,000 cases since inception –it also increases costs to the firm. For example, the firm has had to build and manage an infrastructure to accommodate taking payments. In addition, those payments are not necessarily guaranteed compared to requiring full payments prior to filing.
“We do whatever we can to champion the underdog because we believe it’s unconscionable to shut people out of the bankruptcy process that needs the help the most,” said Van Horn. “We implemented this process because it’s in the best interest of our community and provides an avenue for people struggling with debt to access the powerful bankruptcy system.”
This issue speaks to the mission of Van Horn Law Group: to restore peace of mind to individuals in financial distress by providing first-rate, affordable legal services with compassion, understanding, and respect. Its larger vision is to establish Van Horn Law Group as a relentless advocate for debtors’ rights in the State of Florida and across the country to dispel the stigma associated with bankruptcy, empowering citizens with the knowledge of their rights and providing access to the legal system. Van Horn and his team have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the community by:
In recognition of the firm and its work in the community, Chad Van Horn has received multiple awards. In 2021, his firm was named Law Firm of the Year by Legal Aid Service, and Van Horn was named a Florida Legal Awards 2021 On the Rise honoree by the Daily Business Review. In 2020, he received The Russell E. Carlisle Advocacy Award from Legal Aid Services of Broward County, the Up & Comer Award from South Florida Business & Wealth, the National Philanthropy Day Individual Hero Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Legacy Builder Award from Legacy Lives Here, Inc. In 2018, he received the prestigious 40 Under 40 award by the South Florida Business Journal and was selected for Leadership Broward Class XXXVII. In 2017, he was named Florida Big of the Year out of 15,000 mentors statewide and 2017 Attorney of the Year by Legal Aid Service of Broward County.
Van Horn Law Group, P.A.
Van Horn Law Group, founded in 2009 by Chad Van Horn, 37, is the largest bankruptcy law firm in Broward County based on cases filed, according to Pacer.gov, and practices in the areas of personal and corporate bankruptcy, student loan consolidation and litigation, estate planning/asset protection, LGBT estate planning/asset protection, foreclosure defense, corporate representation, debt consolidation, civil litigation, debt relief, and consumer law. The firm was ranked among the top 5,000 fastest-growing, privately held companies in the United States in 2019 and 2020 by Inc. magazine.
Van Horn, who graduated from Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University with a B.S. in Business Management, discovered his niche in bankruptcy while working as a clerk for a bankruptcy law firm during the day and pursuing a law degree at night. He received his Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center in 2009 and founded his bankruptcy firm shortly after that. Van Horn is the author of The Debt Life, an Amazon bestseller within 24 hours, and Everything You Need to Know About Bankruptcy in Florida. He holds certifications in consumer and business bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification (ABC), a non-profit organization for legal professionals that grants formal certification in specific areas of law.
Van Horn Law Group, P.A. is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a West Palm Beach satellite office. For more information, call (954) 765-3166 or visit www.vanhornlawgroup.com.
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