Debt Collection Work

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LeninLunchbox

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Debt Collection Work

Postby LeninLunchbox » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:15 pm

Hey TLS,

So I'm a 2015 grad, no debt, but still looking for real lawyer work. Needless to say it's been slow. I just got an offer for a $45k/yr gig with a debt collection firm in a major city. Supposedly the job will involve a lot of time in court and provide real training. My focus has always been litigation, and, assuming I can convince myself to sleep at night, it seems like the work itself might be valuable.

Needless to say, I'm eager to end the ceaseless job search, and I'm strongly considering taking the job. Does anyone have any experience with this flavor of "shitlaw?" Is it an absolute career kiss of death? Will anyone consider it real litigation experience? Is the work so odious no one can stand it long? I'm not looking for validation, I'd really like to hear it worts and all from a lawyer who's done debt collection work.

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:27 pm

I do not work at one of these firms but have litigated against them for pro bono clients (both defending and pursing FCDPA violations). I'd be suspicious of the claim you'll get real litigation experience. Most of it is cut and paste volume work with very low margins and as a result I'm not sure how much real experience you actually get
The lawyers I litigate against seem way overworked. I'd imagine most of the court experience on the offensive side is getting defaults entered or knocking pro se's around.

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I do not work at one of these firms but have litigated against them for pro bono clients (both defending and pursing FCDPA violations). I'd be suspicious of the claim you'll get real litigation experience. Most of it is cut and paste volume work with very low margins and as a result I'm not sure how much real experience you actually get
The lawyers I litigate against seem way overworked. I'd imagine most of the court experience on the offensive side is getting defaults entered or knocking pro se's around.


Worked at a debt collections firm in undergrad. Would second all of this.

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:43 pm

I work in house for a company that uses debt collection attorneys for clients.

If we have an outstanding debt the company goes through the typical collections process sending letters in the mail seeking payment and threatening legal action. If we are unable to collect or set up a payment plan, the matter is sent to a nationwide debt collection service who has contracts with local attorneys who can file suit, seek a settlement, judgment, or somehow collect. The debt collection service is paid on a contingency, I believe they take 30% of whatever they are able to collect. They have some kind of.contingency agreement with the debt collection attorneys who are also on a contingency with the debt collection service company. I don't know what their take home from any collection is. Keep in mind, we see debts anywhere from $3,000 up to $500,000 regularly.
As for the work, it does seem kind of shitty and not substantive on the litigation side, but it also seems fairly easily and not a ton of hours. (Although we actually have one case set for trial in a month which is odd).
I don't think this is a total career killing move, but it might be if you want Big Law, prosecution, or public defense. If your heart isn't set on those, I don't see a problem with grinding out this job for a while. You will be getting experience with the job. What you do with it and how you spin and parlay it into your next job is all up to you.
I wouldn't shy away from it solely because it is a "shit law" field. It might be a good practice area to dabble in if you want to do a general practice one day or you can take it with you to another small firm and practice debt collection (or debt collection defense, creditors rights) family, Insurnace defense, small business, estate planning, criminal defense, immigration, municipal, ect.

I'm hoping for the best for you.

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I work in house for a company that uses debt collection attorneys for clients.

If we have an outstanding debt the company goes through the typical collections process sending letters in the mail seeking payment and threatening legal action. If we are unable to collect or set up a payment plan, the matter is sent to a nationwide debt collection service who has contracts with local attorneys who can file suit, seek a settlement, judgment, or somehow collect. The debt collection service is paid on a contingency, I believe they take 30% of whatever they are able to collect. They have some kind of.contingency agreement with the debt collection attorneys who are also on a contingency with the debt collection service company. I don't know what their take home from any collection is. Keep in mind, we see debts anywhere from $3,000 up to $500,000 regularly.
As for the work, it does seem kind of shitty and not substantive on the litigation side, but it also seems fairly easily and not a ton of hours. (Although we actually have one case set for trial in a month which is odd).
I don't think this is a total career killing move, but it might be if you want Big Law, prosecution, or public defense. If your heart isn't set on those, I don't see a problem with grinding out this job for a while. You will be getting experience with the job. What you do with it and how you spin and parlay it into your next job is all up to you.
I wouldn't shy away from it solely because it is a "shit law" field. It might be a good practice area to dabble in if you want to do a general practice one day or you can take it with you to another small firm and practice debt collection (or debt collection defense, creditors rights) family, Insurnace defense, small business, estate planning, criminal defense, immigration, municipal, ect.

I'm hoping for the best for you.


Above first anon and this is sort of how it works from my perspective as well. There's always a "national counsel" who works in some office in the Midwest and drafts all the cut and paste documents, and a "local counsel" who knows nothing about the case but does the filings and makes the court appearances (the local will often be affiliated with the national firm but also have a separate practice.) It's done this way since the work is low volume.

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:52 pm

edit: double
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

hunt godlink

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Postby hunt godlink » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:54 pm

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Last edited by hunt godlink on Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

yay

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby yay » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:56 am

LeninLunchbox wrote:Hey TLS,

So I'm a 2015 grad, no debt, but still looking for real lawyer work. Needless to say it's been slow. I just got an offer for a $45k/yr gig with a debt collection firm in a major city. Supposedly the job will involve a lot of time in court and provide real training. My focus has always been litigation, and, assuming I can convince myself to sleep at night, it seems like the work itself might be valuable.

Needless to say, I'm eager to end the ceaseless job search, and I'm strongly considering taking the job. Does anyone have any experience with this flavor of "shitlaw?" Is it an absolute career kiss of death? Will anyone consider it real litigation experience? Is the work so odious no one can stand it long? I'm not looking for validation, I'd really like to hear it worts and all from a lawyer who's done debt collection work.


if possible, i'd advise against it. i have seen way too many bad examples. i too have worked against debt collection attorneys pro bono and it's just a really shitty area of law and you will probably have a permanent stain on your resume. it's not just the area of law but these people are the worst in the field, where they just sort of grow being accustomed to harassing pro se and people with little to no means. they also violate the shit out of consumer protection laws and don't give a shit about anything. for example, a pro bono client and some debt collector had a contract to settle a debt for X amount. after diligently paying a few years, the debt collector would illegally start charging interests from the original amount and blame the consumer for being ignorant. this kind of shit tactic is apparently quite common. these of course are all anecdotes.

debt collection attorney jobs are reserved for the truly TTT bottom tier grads who passed the bar on their ninth try. i would steer clear.

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reasonable_man

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:36 am

I would avoid this job at all costs if I were you.

The market is terrible and if you're starving, then do what you have to do. But this is not a stepping stone to a "real" litigation position. It will most likely hurt, not help, your resume.

If you are looking for real litigation experience target firms that do mid to high level insurance defense work. You'll learn how to actually litigate a case and will walk away with some transferable skills. A job at a debt collection mill is a place to tread water and the only people earning anything close to a respectable salary are the guys with their names on the door. You won't acquire substantive experience, you'll get good at taking defaults against pro se people with no money.

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Re: Debt Collection Work

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:58 am

It depends. If you are just do consumer/retail stuff, such as credit cards/medical bills, then you are not likely to get any real experience and it will be just about managing a massive caseload. If you do commercial collections, you will get some litigation experience as there are actual disputes, e.g. Uniform Commercial Code, contractual disputes, etc. In those, you will get to issue/respond to discovery, take depositions and get to try cases. Minus some rare commerical cases, the issues are pretty straight forward like disposing the vehicle/collateral in a commercially reasonable manner, so most every case is the same.

I agree with whomever said you won't make much money/you will top out unless you make partner, which you won't. You are just kind of a body they need. The partners I know in it make a lot of money, but again, not really realistic and it appears you want to jump ship right away.

I am surprised that there are lots saying they file FDCPA actions on behalf of pro bono clients and go against shitalw attorneys. Normally, firms do not defend themselves; they hire BigLaw attorneys for FDCPA defense.

If it is consumer collections where you are just dealing in a really high volume, you are likely pigeonholing yourself. You may not have any other options though. A lot of my classmates took up criminal defense work farmed out from the state, although you will make even less there doing that, and it is not exactly going to give you a lot of other translatable experience. Good luck.



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